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The Crowd (0-infinity) at Espace d'Art Contemporain La Tôlerie

By Rhizome

Artists: Anna Adahl (Sweden), Maurizio Cattelan (Italy), Annika Eriksson (Sweden), Felix Gonzalez-Torres (Cuba, USA), Jiri Kovanda (Czech Republic), Kristof Kintera (Czech Republic), Nicolas Moulin (France), Roman Ondàk (Slovaquia), Claude Rutault (France), Laure Tixier (France), Marie Voignier (France), William Wegman (USA)

Curated by Guillaume Désanges, assisted by Mélanie Mermod (Work Method)

Espace d'Art Contemporain La Tôlerie
May 6th to July 25th 2008

In the lineage of works by Elias Canetti, the motif of the crowd as an echo of the political notion of community can extend to the history of forms. Conceptually, the crowd results from the paradoxical formation of a "collective individuality," a physical gathering of units momentarily sharing a common goal. As a group capable of reaching the "innumerable," the crowd fascinates as much as it frightens through its physical monstrosity and immeasurable power. From a more formal point of view, the crowd's motif refers to the representation of a whole as a sum of specific elements, therefore to the idea of fractals. It also relates to the ornamental tradition of the grotesque, as a chaotic succession that gives a form of order to disorder. An investigation of the crowd, the mass, or the multitude cannot be made without considering the necessary counterpoint: absence, void, the isolated individual facing the world, and his/her relationship to otherness and the group. Therein lies the first stage in the constitution of a community. From this perspective, The Crowd (0-infinity) is constructed according to a continuous script that leads from the one to the multiple.

The first chapter of this evolving exhibition project voluntarily excludes any representation of human crowds. It approaches this complex theme in an abstract, paradoxical manner. The choice of the art works is more sensory than illustrative, more formal than figurative, more intuitive than manifest. The monochrome is thought of as an erasing of the subject. Chaotic or falsely controlled multitudes -- including organic or social structures that operate like the "crystals of masses" -- develop embryos of unit behavior. The issue is to challenge the image of the crowd in a sensitive manner, shedding some light on precarious ties between art works that individually escape thematic circumscription.

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