Exhibitions - MUDAM Luxembourg

07.03.2015 - 31.05.2015
Curator: Marie-Noëlle Farcy

“In the space between science fiction and reality, between fantastic zoology and scientific creativity,
David Altmejd accomplishes the feat of uniting the colourful magic of material, the endless fantasy of
forms and the poetry of ancient artistic skills in one and the same melting pot.” (Louise Déry)
In a career spanning nearly twenty years, the Canadian sculptor David Altmejd has produced a
wide variety of formally and thematically complex works in surprisingly diverse materials. The
artist’s interest in biology and architecture combines with a fascination with metamorphosis to
produce compellingly strange images reminiscent of the dreamlike or nightmarish worlds of David
Cronenberg and David Lynch, or the labyrinthine narratives of Jorge Luis Borges.

Altmejd’s works are characterised by a wealth of detail that lends formal momentum to individual
elements, which in some instances seem to originate from within the elements themselves.
Animated by inner forces and radiating a taut sense of energy, they are like snapshots of single
moments within a continual process of evolution. The natural forces illustrated in his sculptures
are counterbalanced by currents of energy (as epitomised by the gold chains in The Index). Altmejd’s
works unfold a disturbingly ambiguous narrative: even as they challenge viewers with unanswered
questions, the sculptures validate their feelings and interpretations.

From the beginning of his career as an artist, Altmejd has been using a wide variety of forms
and materials in his sculptures. The werewolf, a prominent motif in his work, appeared early on,
whether in the shape of individual heads or as complex presentations on pedestals. Epoxy clay,
crystals, plexiglass and mirrors are recurring materials in his work. The heads presented in this
exhibition, from the years 2006 to 2015, convey Altmejd’s central concern with the inherent tension
in the work, the potential energy it generates, and the possibility of releasing that energy.
The Builders (2005); The Outside, The Inside and The Praying Mantis (2005); and The Trail (2006)
are developments of earlier table-like pedestals. As model-type architectures, they constitute
a mixture of independent microcosms and set-ups for scientific presentation. Upon closer
examination, these works, which at first glance seem to be structured in an architectonic, rational
manner, turn out to be rampant geometric growths and surreal labyrinths with organic, exotic
elements. Altmejd overcame the horizontality of these presentation structures with a series of
giant, vertical figures; although the figures are enormous in scale, Altmejd worked meticulously on
each section and component independently, rather than in the context of the massive whole. With
their hermetically block-like, classically inspired, or open, deconstructed character, these colossal
statues inhabiting the museum’s Grand Hall, like animated “landscapes” or as completely mirrorclad
forms, trigger associations with golems and cyborgs. They are complemented by the series
Bodybuilders, plaster figures which seem to embody their own production process.

The artist’s more recent plexiglass works provide a spatial framework for his sculptural
compositions, restraining them within a transparent cover while at the same time allowing
glimpses into their inner coherencies. In Le Guide (2010) and Le Souffle et la Voie (2010), the focus
is on a symmetrically structured representation of inner energy currents; in sculptures such as
The Orbit (2012), architectonic elements, mirrors, fruits and anatomical fragments again enhance
the complexity of the works. For Altmejd, the dynamic movement in these pieces, which repeatedly
breaks through the inner and sometimes even outer (plexiglass) boundaries, is a sign of powerful
vital energy.

David Altmejd was born in Montreal in 1974. He lives and works in New York.
Exhibition organised in collaboration with: Musée d'Art moderne de la Ville de Paris,
Musée d'art contemporain de Montréal
In partnership with: Embassy of Canada in Luxembourg


07.03.2015 - 31.05.2015
Curator: Marie-Noëlle Farcy

Franz Erhard Walther's concept of the artwork as such developed from the late 1950s, at a time
when many artists were starting to question the parameters of art. Traditional forms of art were
not capable of expressing Walther's artistic aspirations at the time; he found it more interesting to
examine material processes, action and even modes of exhibition as components in the definition of
an artwork.

Thus, according to Walther's concept, art had an immaterial, performative character and took
place within the individual physical and mental processes enacted by those encountering particular
works. The role of the artist shifted from being the creator of works with a particular meaning to
becoming the mere facilitator of a conscious and personal experiencing of aesthetic phenomena.
This practice had already been adumbrated in early actions such as Versuch, eine Plastik zu sein
(Trying to be a sculpture, 1958), and, after many years in which Walther experimented with a variety
of materials, led finally in 1963 to the discovery of the technique of sewing, a working method that
met Walther's need for formal rigour. The works he produced up to 1969 using this technique
were to be collected in the so-called 1. Werksatz (First work set). The 58 individual works sewn
from sturdy fabric that comprise the 1. Werksatz, which Walther called “Work pieces” or “Action
pieces”, were for him simply “forms” that prescribed concrete patterns of action and were reliant
on being actually handled by one or several participants for attaining the character of an artwork, a
character that remained bound to the action itself.

Walther's 1. Werksatz, which was prepared and accompanied by countless drawings, of which a
selection is shown in the exhibition, is mostly presented in a kind of “stored form” or as items
that can be individually accessed and must be concretely activated before they take on artwork
character. In 1972, Walther put together 45 so-called Schreitbahnen (Walking bases), a motif that
he was consequently to try out in many variations. In 20 Schreitbahnen (1975-77) or in the Gesang
der Schreitsockel (Song of the walking pedestals, 1975-77), as well as in the various works on the
theme Raumformen (Space forms), which are also presented for activation either in “stored form”
or individually, the focus is on the possibility of their being used, which in each case would lead to
specific experiences in the space.

The fact that an action taking place only potentially or in the mind can be just as constitutive of a
work as one that is actually performed was already embodied in the action pieces of 1962-63 and
the radical 1. Werksatz. The work-actions and the "stored form" were always of equal importance.
However, with the Wandformationen (Wall formations), which he produced from 1978, visual and
architectural elements that no longer required physical activation to correspond to his concept of
the artwork took on an increasing importance in his work.

The wall formations Statt einer Rede (Instead of a speech, 1981), Neuere Geschichte erweitert
(Recent history enlarged, 1981-82) and Die Erinnerung untersockelt (Drei Zitate) (Memory put on a
plinth [Three quotations], 1983) are all works tailored to human measure, for each of which Walther
saw three different possible positions for the viewer: “In front, close-up and within”. The active
participation of the viewers increases according to their position, right up to their entering the work
in a kind of “physical reading” that leads to its activation.

The Wall Formations were followed in Walther's oeuvre by a series of detailed wall works. In
response to criticism of what was seen as a return to a conventional concept of art, Walther pointed
to his enduring interest in the – only apparently banal – question that had centrally informed all
the art of the 20th century: “What is an artwork?” And with these works based on the drawings and
diagrams of the 1960s, he did indeed examine the aggregate state of an artwork: while some works
intimate participatory possibilities, others, like Plastischer Text (Plastic text, 1987) and Formantwort
1 / 2 / 3 (Formal answer 1 / 2 / 3, 1989-90) explore the borders of particular genres (picture, relief,
sculpture). Walther interrogated the different meanings they had in stored form and as a wall
arrangement. He examined their spatial references and their “objectness” and ran through the
different emphases of form and colour in a great number of variations.

Finally, in Raumabnahme BLAU (Hamburger Raum) (Space mould BLUE [Hamburg piece], 1997-98)
he comprehensively explores the pictorial quality of the space. The dark-blue reconstruction in
fabric of his Hamburg studio, which is adapted to suit each exhibition venue, encourages the viewer
to re-enact its directly visible process of creation.

The possibility of putting the created “forms” to use has always been inherent as an essential
characteristic in Walther's concept of what constitutes an artwork, a concept that has undergone
continual development during his now more than five decades of artistic activity. Walther, who
in this way shared the role of the “artist” with the viewers/users of his works, also used the
processual nature of this concept to emphasise its open and unfinished quality; or, as he put it in
the title of his 1969 exhibition in the New York Museum of Modern Art: “The work can never be

Franz Erhard Walther was born in 1939 in Fulda, where he lives and works.
Exhibition organised in collaboration with: The Franz Erhard Walther Foundation


08.11.2014 - 25.05.2015
Sylvie Blocher . S'inventer autrement
Press view: Friday, November 7, 2014
Curator: Enrico Lunghi

Since the early 1990s the French artist Sylvie Blocher has built up a body of video work that
takes the human as its material – one that is fragile and unpredictable but charged with extreme
presence. She engages with a poetics of relation, emancipation, the questioning of identities, the
writing of history, the permeability of the masculine/feminine border, and codes of representation
in a world under control. Created in different geographic regions, her works are based on
exchange: they often involve the participation of external people, who are invited to present
themselves in a completely new fashion before the camera, as the artist “shares her authority
with her models” to create what she calls Living Pictures.

“It will be the story of an event at a museum in Luxembourg in which the visitors will not be content
to look politely at the works, but decide impulsively to experience leaving the world for a few
minutes, in a journey filmed and broadcast, a story of fragmented, floating bodies. Then a movie, the
start of another story.” (Sylvie Blocher)

The solo exhibition to be presented at Mudam Luxembourg revolves around an ambitious project
titled Dreams Have a Language, which combines a participative work, a video installation and the
production of a movie. During the first weeks of the exhibition, the museum’s Grand Hall will
become a fully active film studio that centres on the operation of a flight machine twelve meters
tall. Through the placement of an ad in various media, Sylvie Blocher will invite the public at
large to visit the museum to leave the ground for a few minutes and to “rethink the world”.
“Shooting conditions: allow one hour and present yourself at Mudam with an idea to change the
world. It might be poetic, political, aesthetic, emotional, revolutionary, scientific, architectural,
educational, financial, culinary, sonic, etc.”

The images of suspended bodies are screened in a video installation at the centre of the exhibition,
while the encounters with the participants will be the starting point of a film combining documentary
and fictional writing co-directed by Blocher and Donato Rotunno, the release of which is scheduled
for spring 2015.

In the galleries on the basement floor, the exhibition includes about ten recent works that highlight
various issues central to Blocher’s work: identity, otherness, the power of the imagination, the
concept of “wasted time” and that of “shared responsibility” between the artist and the people
she films.

By using music to give new life to important speeches and manifestos made in contemporary
history (by Angela Davis, Édouard Glissant and Barack Obama, among others), the five videos
that comprise the series Speeches (2009–2012, Collection Mudam Luxembourg), engage with the
political dimension of the imagination, individual and collective.

Other works, like the diptych Change the Scenario (Conversation with Bruce Nauman) (2013) and
the three videos recently created by Sylvie Blocher in Texas, tackle historic and racial aspects in
the construction of the individual.

Placed at the entrance to each of the galleries, a series of drawings that the artist has made every
day for a year, based on the front page of the newspaper Libération, places emphasis on the
passages between the personal and the political initiated by her practice.

The exhibition S’inventer autrement at Mudam Luxembourg is realised in collaboration with the Centre régional
d’art contemporain Languedoc-Roussillon in Sète and is supported by the Institut français du Luxembourg.
The project Dreams Have a Language, presented in the exhibition, is realised in collaboration with Tarantula
Luxembourg and with the support of Film Fund Luxembourg.
Partner of the exhibition: BGL - BNP PARIBAS

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