Project Project

Is It Nice?

One of the points of departure of Is it Nice ? is connected with the issue of place. Nice, needless to say, can be presented as a geographical place, the city where the artists and groups of
artists in this inaugural exhibition work (or have worked). But this is not a show in the vein of the “vitality of the art scene in Nice”, aimed at setting up a second “Nice School ». Rather, the intent of this exhibition is to take a look at – and put into perspective – the concept of place in artistic work.

Is it Nice ? shows artists who all share the same concern : the quest for theoretical and practical models beyond the art world. Whence the importance of place, seen as a socio-cultural area. Focusing on a loss of references, they formulate strategies aimed at bending and shrinking the artwork, so as to dissolve it in the sphere of the here and now, and work it into reality circuits. So their works suggest a thematic violence which straightaway bans any aesthetic appreciation.

The onlooker is plunged into a universe governed by communication networks with chaotic ebbs and flows. Into this universe are mischievously injected all forms stemming from the absurd, the playful, the dubious, the dangerous and the real. By tracking the work down in the interstices of the social fabric, these artists have shown up this intriguing wager : the production of tools capable of transforming their own link with the world, capable of perceiving this world and no longer merely representing it.

Caught in the vortex of the devices introduced by these artists, all art centres should without fail achieve a switch in their very status. Rather than presenting the simple results of their various artistic experiments to the visitor who is invited, all in all, only after the party, art centres (this, in any event, is the mission that the CAN has espoused) should rather be seen as real places of experimentation, passage, stratification – kinds of platforms for exchanges, a sort of life arena… For it is, indeed, true that current artistic practices are now adjusting their meaning to a desire to fuel other areas of knowledge, and that they are flirting endlessly with reality formats, to convert them into behavioural models.

This kind of conception, seeing art no longer as a product but as the indicator of a connection, a fraction bar, to borrow Duchamp’s expression, would thus help to imagine an art centre as a labyrinthine region for use by the visitor, where, at stroboscopic speed and in unruffled set planes, the rose would alternate with the dung-heap, terra firma with violent earth tremors, breezes with lethal viruses, kisses with the rat-a-tat-tat of machine-guns, silk with blood Roles here are reversed at the very moment when seem to be identifiable : Snow White discovers her calling as a porn star, the Minotaur surprises himself by imitating the billing and cooing of Tino Rossi, and garden gnomes turn into dangerous terrorists, lurking, close by, behind a bush.

Marc-Olivier Wahler translated by Simon Pleasance

Opening March 11 1995
Exhibition from March 12 to May 14 1995