Saturday, December 3, 2011

Bigger Is Better

Sophie Calle, Christian Boltanski, Claude Viallat, Bernard Venet... all the artists are French for this exhibition "Tour de France/Florida: Contemporary Artists from France in Florida's Private Collections" at the Frost Art Museum on the Florida International University campus in Miami. Two large rooms are filled with art, bought by collectors.
A little piece of Boltanski, a little piece of Sophie Calle... It made me reflect about the impact of the size of installations.

Last Summer, I visited the Galerie Rudolphinum in Prague. The exhibition "Undeniably me" featured, among other works, a room in the palace filled with 547 photographs, in black and white, covering the four walls of one room from floor to ceiling. The portraits of the dead were looking at me in the dark room and my eyes, when accustomed to the darkness, could only see the photographs. Physically immersed in Christian Boltanski's work, I got the full impact of his message.

At the FIAC, his installation lining a wall was moving with the anonymous portraits surrounded by small starry lights. But the lonely photograph with one light, on top of boxes at the Frost was lost in a corner. The single portrait makes the person become family, a crowd is overwhelming and evokes destiny, cultures, history.

I also recently visited the installation of Sophie Calle in New Orleans , part of Prospect.2 in one of the Pontalba buildings on Jackson Square. The visit involved the construction of the artist's story and avidly, I followed the path along the exhibition and became a participant. At the Frost, the photograph with accompanying text was just another framed art work.
Idem for Bernard Venet's works, a small sculpture becomes an object to decorate an office or a living-room.

If Christo, whose latest project is to wrap forty miles of the Arkansas river (scheduled in 2014), wraps the rosebush of a collector, it would tarnish his legacy.
The dimension of the work brings its significance.
Size does matter.

photographs by the author:
"Chases High School 8" Christian Boltanski, 1986-1987

"Monument", Christian Boltanski, 1996

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