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night may never sleep so soundly

Fondation Cartier pour l'art contemporain
261 boulevard Raspil 75014 Paris

In 'by night', the sleepy hours between sunset and dawn are explored
through the art of 80 artists ranging from Lewis Carol , Victor Hugo,
Brassi, Henri Michaux, Felician Ropes, Weegee up to Bill Viola, Larry
Clark, Nan Goldin and Christian Boltanski. This wide range of artistic
expressions and personalities works rather well in creating a sense of
sleeplessness within the realm of dreamy flickering lights.

The convergence of the principles of artificial light, the rich potential of
dream states, the functional ability to simulate drunken perception, and
the lapsing efficacy of passive energy is implicated throughout this
exhibit. The dream here has outdistanced the "normal" and now encompasses
virtually every moment of our perceptions with unreachable presumptions."by
night" to me suggests that the fashionability of the link between darkness
and imagination, darkness and desire, darkness and the body, and darkness
and liberation from reality, reside in the night's newly computer mediated
form. Instead of a simplistic connection between style and illusion, "by
night" could have done more to draw on the euphoria of digital make-believe
with its timeless passion and sleepless obsession. Immersive dark
environments feedback to our hearts many powerful possibilities.

For the arts, access to a darkness that wholly engages the participant,
could be a conclusive blow to the frayed tradition of the photographic and
hand made image. The image of the night may never sleep so soundly again as
in this show. The array of ideas about the night presented here are
striking though. Indeed it could be said that the show touts the
immateriality of the wee hours itself by suggesting how quickly ideas of
night life in the 20th century have affected sleep patterns. The challenge
of the new computer era, with its round the clock time zone, puts forth
within this social abstraction what I think can be seen as a shift away
from a more sensual and aesthetic definition of what darkness once was for
and towards a new American style anti-subjectivity. Our new sense of
eternal light places a certain type of human experience at the center of a
cone of light, there by illuminating a darkness previously hidden: human
power.

If the exhibit seems to hope that darkness still offers us creativity and
intercourse, it must also be prepared to admit that these notions are not
the privilege of art. Creativity and darkness are merging everywhere.
Whether it is in the warehouses of Nintendo, Silicon Graphics, SONY, etc. -
it is less a matter of incubus than an issue of amplification.

The concerns for the dispersal of dark knowledge do not yet seem to
overwhelm our concerns with immediate monetary reward however. Darkness,
after all, is not continuously gay.

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