Gabriel Orozco at Centre Pompidou
  • 30
  • Nov
  • 2010

Extract from VingtParis

Orozco01_body Text: Martyn Dunn

Images: Marian Goodman Gallery

The glass walls of the Pompidou’s Galerie Sud provide a fitting home for Mexican artist Gabriel Orozco, whose exhibition (on through 3rd January 2011) manifests the twin senses of exploration and receptiveness. It is hard to imagine the selection of sculptures and photographs amid the white walls of the museum’s upper stories, which feel unexpectedly ‘stuffy’ in comparison; a word not often attributed to our most challengingly modern of structures (even though the show’s major spectacle, La DS – a modified Citroën car, could certainly travel up the escalator).

The exhibition is conveniently split into three main areas, each with its own definite tone, but with plenty of surprises following the spectator along their tour. Upon entering, one encounters Orozco’s Working Tables (1990), three worn wooden market tables littered with artefacts. I will hold back details as much of the enjoyment derives from the sense of discovery. The first table appears as a collection of childhood souvenirs and the selection of spherical stone objects that litter the surface appear both primitive and atavistic when seen next to a model aeroplane and spacecraft.

Various objects reflect an admiration for our lost ability to freely examine and experiment, with forms and objects which have long become banal to us. Two Socks (1995) are, unsurprisingly, two socks, but swollen by a papier mâché balloon with new dimension. Not far away a miniature reproduction of the Citroën gives a sly wink to its older brother across the room.

Cats and Watermelons The second table is remarkably spacious in comparison to the first and evokes an utterly different reaction in the spectator. Here clay and terracotta works lie encased in antique display cases, while others, remarkably seal-like, lie serenely on the wood. Among famous works such as Horses Running Endlessly – the artist’s equine dominated take on the chessboard – is a novel piece created especially for this show. In French Flies (2010) – numerous flies and other winged insects encased in clay, are multiple mementos of a summer the artist spent in the French countryside. Watch your back here as imported Mexican ‘guards’ are in position to prevent you getting too close.

The second section of the exhibition grows in scale and impact, beginning with the modified Citroen car, cut along the centre by the artist himself and grafted back together, minus the centre section, creating a distorted size that comes closer to Orozco’s own love for racing vehicles. This object is definitely the exhibition showpiece, an effortlessly cool design attracting multiple onlookers from its opportune placement near the windows of the south gallery. Space and its distortion are developed as we progress onwards.

An entire lift, shrunk to the specifics of the artist’s height, is deposited in the centre of the gallery. Once inside a strange atmosphere exists. Orozco’s physical dimensions surround you, causing you to hunch forward or stretch out to replicate them. The baton of child-like experimentation is taken up here and run with. A pressurized vulcanized rubber ball looks like an inner tube blown to bursting point, and Eyes under Elephant Foot (2009) echoes the content of children’s nightmares, or literature, which you can gather from the piece’s description “Beaucarnea trunk and glass eyes”.

Yielding Stone (1992) stands as a motif for the artist’s work on display. The giant plasticine ball that was rolled down streets in New York and followed on subsequent travels now bears the imprint of the debris against which it came into contact. The values of experience are displayed within the photography that leads to the third and final stage of the exhibit. Circling the right hand side, images are both spontaneous, unmediated snapshots of travel, and constructed, with the placement of alien objects in mundane scenes. Eleven pairs of cat’s eyes peer from the tips of watermelons, in the aptly named Cats and Watermelons (1992).

The tour ends with the famous geometric patterns that are Orozco’s signature pieces, but which deviate into a more modernist vein than we have seen up to this point within this most personal of shows. However, as one looks upon the varicoloured circles that appear in grandiose scale and turns to look back over the entire show, the proliferation of circles and spheres is hard to ignore. Possibly this reflects the artists occupation with the revolution of youth to adulthood and the nostalgic look backwards, or is maybe a nod to the Mexican’s other great passion, a football…

Until 3rd January 2011

Centre Pompidou

Marché de l’Olive
  • 25
  • Nov
  • 2010

Out of Vingtparismagazine
Text : Emily Sands-Bonin

Newly refurbished and opened in late September this year, the Marché de l’Olive has been hailed as very “Baltard” by Bertrand Delanoë, mayor of Paris, an allusion to French 19th century architect Victor Baltard, designer of Les Halles, Paris’ mythical central market. But if Les Halles, destroyed in 1971, has given way to the Forum des Halles, a tacky shopping district located in the heart of Paris, overrun by tourists and nocturnal drug deals, the marché couvert La Chapelle, located far from the beaten path, is alive and well.

The marché couvert La Chapelle, commonly known as the “Marché de l’Olive,” is located in northeast Paris, where épiceries exotiques loaded with plantain bananas brush shoulders with colorful batik cottons, and where, the Mairie of Paris hastens to point out, the “last pockets of insalubrity are disappearing,” as the quartier slowly gentrifies.

The 18ème is vibrant and lively; one can be literally carried along by the late afternoon crowds and the scent of fried food, the stately 19th century Art Nouveau architecture sitting proudly above France’s postcolonial melting pot.
Situated on a little square off the main boulevard, Marx Dormoy, the market is surrounded by cafes and grocers. Through the automatic doors, stately wrought iron arches support a glass pavilion roof, flooding the space with natural light and rendering the piles of fruit and vegetables even more enticing. There were very few people in the market on a weekday afternoon, but the spacious corridors between the stalls can accommodate Saturday morning crowds with ease. Like the surrounding neighborhood, many of the commerçants are North African or Asian. The presence of a Moroccan traiteur with a steaming bowl of couscous reminds us, yet again, of France’s postcolonial plurality.

The Marché de l’Olive is definitely not for vegetarians, or for the faint of heart.  The meat is lustrously displayed; sausages and patés are abundant and the chickens still have plumed heads curling hooked black claws. I saw furry rabbits hanging above a butcher’s stand and, in the corner stand, above a selection of preserves, a stuffed fox looks on, posed next to what appears to be a stuffed crow, gripping a round box of camembert in his beak. The scene evokes the fable by La Fontaine, “The Fox and the Raven.” Flattered by the wily fox, the raven opens his beak to respond and drops his cheese, which the fox snatches up for lunch.

The Marché de l’Olive itself is similar to many a farmers’ market, but it is the newly renovated 19th century hall, as well as the bustling, multicultural quartier surrounding it, that make it part of the contemporary Parisian experience.

Marché de l’Olive – Marché couvert La Chapelle,10 Rue de l’olive, 75018 Paris , Tuesday – Saturday  8h30 -13h / 16h – 19h30, Sunday 8h30-13h, M° Marx Dormoy

  • 19
  • Nov
  • 2010

In the 19th century places where workers could buy a cheap but healthy soup to eat with their bread, were known as a “bouillon”. In Paris there existed many. Unfortunately, a lot of them disapeared. Some became ordinary cafés, sometimes a nice brasserie, some still exist ( Bouillon Chartier) or in case of Thoumieux were revamped and became a nice restaurant.

The chef Jean-François Piegé was trained by Alain Ducasse, gave the restaurant of Hôtel Le Crillon – Les Ambassadeurs 2 Michelin stars, but preferred to start his own restaurant. He did work together with Thierry Costes , bought Thoumieux, revamped it and it became a success story.  Classic French cuisine with a modern twist, good value for money.

Thoumieux, 79, Rue Saint-Dominique, 75007 Paris, tel 01 47 05 49 75, open 7 days a week ( it’s a place to eat on Sunday !) M° La Tour Maubourg

Mois de la Photo – Off
  • 15
  • Nov
  • 2010

Text: Aidan Mac Guill for VingtParis

Every two years in Paris the month of November is designated ‘Mois De La Photo’. Of course in Paris it seems like everything eventually gets its own month, or week, or day. In fact I’m fairly sure October was ‘Mois De La Everybody Gets The Flu’, and this writer is considering launching a campaign to make December ‘Mois De La Soul’, a month-long celebration of the early nineties hip-hop pioneers.

Anyway, right now Paris is the world capital of photography, with exhibitions, discussions, workshops and parties being held by institutions like the Maison Européenne De La Photographie, the Jeu De Paume, the BNF and the Fondation Cartier, as well as countless galleries scattered across the city. It’s a chance for photographers to exhibit, learn and network, and for the curious passer-by to enjoy extraordinary images from around the world.

Of course no self-respecting festival is complete without its strange, unsettling and often more interesting twin brother – the fringe. So running parallel to ‘Mois De La Photo’ is the ‘Mois De La Photo – Off’. The aim of ‘Mois Off’ is to provide a showcase for emerging and “unconventional” photographers neglected by the main festival, with exhibitions in young, unknown galleries or in unexpected public places. Over 100 shows will eventually be held around the city and it’s suburbs.

Of course the problem with organizing so many shows in tiny, unknown galleries is finding out what’s on and how to get there. The organisers have tackled this problem by embracing the brave new world of social networking.
On its website the programme has been divided into 10 ‘routes’ that will direct you to shows that are located nearby to each other. Guided tours of the routes and a special ‘night route’ will be organised to allow visitors to meet with the photographers and gallery owners. Details of these will appear on the festival’s Twitter feed, as well as their Facebook page.
There is a mobile version of the site for your iPhone, with information and directions via Google Maps on how to get to shows. As well as all that there are 10,000 good old-fashioned programmes available free in galleries and shops around Paris. There’s also a bunch of Flickr pages where users can upload their own photos of their ‘Mois Off’ experience, creating an satisfyingly meta online exhibition within the exhibition.

So get online now and don’t miss your chance to discover some new galleries, check out the next big thing in the photography world, or at least score some free wine at a vernissage.