The Otherwise Art Festival
Exit Festival spring 2012
MAC (Maisons des Arts de Créteil), France
March 8-18, 2012
Bernie Lubell, Left: ‘Aphasiogram/Making a point of Inflection’. Right: ‘Fur’s Facebox’
by Angie Eng
Sensory perception and audience participation were reoccurring themes in this year’s Exit art festival in Créteil France on March 8th-18th, 2012. Exit is one of the first spring contemporary art festivals I’m sure to not miss in or around Paris.
Left: Place Salvador Allende, Créteil. Right: Left Fronters at Bastille, March 2012 photo by Stuart Krusee
Exit’s welcome mat, Place Salvador Allende already gives MAC Creteil (Maison des Arts et de la Culture/ House of Arts and Culture) an advantage over most art centers. Sitting beside a lake and at the far end of a Vasarely swirling marbled XXX-large plaza it is surrounded by futuristic buildings designed by architect, Pierre Dufau in the 1960’s. In a category with Oscar Niemeyer, at Allende square, which also includes city hall, we imagine to be in former communist Eastern Europe. The 6th largest populated area of metropolitan Paris, Créteil has consistently been politically far left since Mitterand. Also note, in 1823 a tramline was built from Créteil directly to place de Bastille once the prison/chateau taken down by the people in 1789 and presently the most frequented place to spot a protest.
Once you traverse the immense, empty square save for the four skateboarders, a surprise awaits. Unpredictability is what I like most of this festival that focuses on hybrid and new media art and performance. Such risk-taking (a rarity in proximity of institutionalized Paris and its deep-rooted tradition) can be hit or miss. This year’s exhibition veered less toward innovation as witnessed in past shows and closer to an accessible whimsy with one foot in today and one in yesterday.
Artistic Director, Didier Fusiller has a knack for organizing diverse contemporary art for an inclusive audience. This is a rare occurrence in the age of the digital art festival geared for academics, scientists, researchers and the educated art elite. How many urban contemporary art institutions receive a public that equally represents their diverse demographics? Stress is made on the Republic’s motto of egalité. The MAC team has managed to find a solution to engage/welcome a public, which resembles a Benetton portrait over the group shot Vanity Fair cover.
This year, Exit festival took a break from the algorithmic, sensor-based, DIY, 3D interactive installation/net art scene. Discovery is much less exciting the 2nd, 3rd and 4th time around. Thus, MAC’s artistic head curator, Charles Carcopino, similar to their Berlin counterpart- Transmediale, threw a curveball in 2012 by mixing the digital with analogue, new with nostalgia. Its good to break your own rules once in a while.
Left: Diane Landry, ‘Chevalier de la resignation infinie’
Right: Bernie Lubell, ‘Aphasiogram/Making a point of Inflection’
For the exhibition, ‘play’ replaced the trendy term ‘interactivity’. Bernie Lubell’s mechanized pine wood contraptions visualized our information processing as a cooperative experience. In ‘Aphasiogram/Making a point of inflection’ a participant circled from a list of words to define ‘heaven’. Around the corner an attached machine created a visual map of the words you selected. Your train of thought and the personalized definition of heaven resulted in your ‘path’ around the corner. A poetic hit!
Pierre-Laurent Cassièreùs ‘Schizophone’ Center: Wim Janssen, Static
Right: Zylvinas Kempina ‘White Noise’
Some projects focused on the hyper sensory, such as: Pierre-Laurent Cassièreùs ‘Schizophone’ or his ‘Vent Tendu’ and even Diane Landry’s plastic bottle filled with sand installation, ‘Chevalier de la Resignation Infinie’. Like eating oysters, which gives the pleasure of a dip in the ocean, Landry’s audio effect felt like a walk on an empty autumn beach. If you enjoy listening to the nostalgic sounds of the film projector, Zylvinas Kempinas’ ‘White Noise’ allowed one to reminisce of the pre-digital recording age with a running videotape wall.
Left: Ryota Kuwakubo, ‘The Tenth Sentiment’
Right: Verdensteatret’s ‘And all the Questionmarks started…’
Optical wow was also a leitmotiv. Wim Janssen visualized light waves with a polarization filter. If you wondered what it felt like to be inside a pixel or if your vision has morphed into your screen, Janssen described such a sentiment in ‘Static’. Ryota Kuwakubo’s poetic shadow puppet installation transported us back to child development where simplicity and the micro fascinate. A toy train with a bright high beam threw light and dramatic shadow from quotidian object: salad spinner, screws and rolls of duct tape. It challenged the high tech interactive installation driven by computers and hours of custom code (absent in this year’s fest). However, one should be careful not to over-indulge in child humor that may fit the tourist plaza rather than the museum. Nicky Assmann’s giant soap bubble mural or Zimoun’s motorized ping-pong balls attached to cardboard boxes could be much better placed in a street festival.
In the center of the space and also one of the highlights of the festival sat or rather constantly transformed a performance and kinetic video installation by Verdensteatret. Looking down one fell into the crack between Brothers Quay and Jean Tinguely. Somber, mysterious giant pigeons and ominous storm clouds paralleled bizarre sound-movement synchronization reminiscent of a Richard Foreman play. Performers interacted like machine with machine. At times they steered dangling wires, microscopes and bicycle gears and then methodically they walked away to leave the mechanized to drive us through a surreal happening.
As Festival Exit wound down to a close in mid March, 100000 supporters of the Left Front met down the invisible tramline from Créteil to Bastille. To the southwest, art lovers decided to lighten up like a Hollywood derision from the seriousness of the current grim political and economic climate neck deep in crisis. Like a Fred Astaire tap dance that begins and opens a film, MAC Exit welcomed and left us with Facebox. A 3D joke on social networking allowed one participant to see another through an emptied-out computer monitor where one could also physically poke their friend with a stick.
Alley rally up: Feed the world, Band Aid, Occupy Wall Street, another Bastille manifestation, the art festival, etc. Lighten up and unite, it’s the end of the world only according to the Mayan calendar. Let’s think otherwise, the way Exit comments on hybrid new media art of today.
Festival EXIT (http://www.maccreteil.com/fr/exit)
Témoin de la création contemporaine, la Maison des Arts et de la Culture de Créteil est un lieu de production et de diffusion pluridisciplinaire et généraliste. Elle présente largement les oeuvres de référence, soutient et favorise les formes exploratoires en art, particulièrement les collaborations artistiques hybrides. À ce titre, à Créteil, une troisième salle, le Satellite, permet d’accompagner de jeunes artistes dans leur travail d’exploration sur des formes artistiques largement diffusées lors du festival EXIT.
Angie Eng (http://angieeng.com) is a media artist who works in video, installation and time-based performance. Her work has been performed and exhibited at established venues such as, Whitney Museum at Philip Morris, Lincoln Center Video Festival, The Kitchen, New Museum of Contemporary Art, Renssalaer Polytechnic Institute, Eyebeam Art and Technology Center, Roulette Intermedium , Bronx Museum, Artists Space, Art in General , Anthology Film Archives, Experimental Intermedia and Cité de la Musique. Her videos have been included in digital art festivals in local and international venues in Cuba, France, Greece, Japan, Holland, Germany, Former Yugoslavia and Canada. For her multimedia and new media projects she has received grants and commissions : New Radio and Performing Arts, Harvestworks, Art In General, Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, New York State Council on the Arts, Jerome Foundation, Alternative Museum, and Experimental TV Center Finishing Funds and Foundation for Contemporary Arts. She has worked with composers, dancers, theatre, sound and video artists including: Ron Anderson (Molecules), Rhys Chatham, Audrey Chen, Luke DuBois, Vincent Epplay, Yuko Fujiyama, Jon Giles, Andy Grayton, Sofi Hémon, Jason Kao Hwang, Simon Hostettler, Jessica Higgins, Hoppy Kamiyama, Zach Layton, Okkyung Lee, David Linton, Jarryd Lowder, Shoko Nagai, Matthew Ostrowski, Jean Jacques Palix, Zeena Parkins, Ludovic Poulet, Rémi Préchac, Liminal Projects, Kyoko Kitamura, David Linton, Thierry Madiot, Geoff Matters, Ikue Mori, Pauline Oliveros, Jane Scarpantoni, Peter Scherer, Kevin Shea (Talibam), David Simms (Jesus Lizards), Jim Staley, Satoshi Takeishi, Yumiko Tanaka,Keiko Uenishi, Elisabeth Valletti, Vire Volte Theatre, Nancy Meli Walker and David Weinstein. She is also a European correspondent for AOA (Artist Organized Art) to support a critical dialogue between artists, art practice and dissemination via public events. She lives between New York City and Paris.