La vie magnifique: a trio of artists celebrate the banal at Palais de Tokyo

La vie magnifique: a trio of artists celebrate the banal at Palais de Tokyo

Ugo Rondinone, Ragnar Kjartansson and Mélanie Matranga take over Paris’ Palais de Tokyo with a trio of shows that celebrate the beauty of the everyday

As part of the ’La Vie Magnifique’ season at Paris’ Palais de Tokyo, a trio of artists are set to take over the museum with shows that celebrate the beauty of the everyday.

Spanning three generations, the artists – Swiss-born, New York-based Ugo Rondinone, Icelandic Ragnar Kjartansson and young French practitioner Mélanie Matranga – run the gamut in terms of medium and approach.

Headlining the season is Rondinone, who has chosen to curate a retrospective of the work of legendary American poet and performance artist John Giorno; a major figure in the 1960s American underground and the subject of Andy Warhol’s 1963 film Sleep.

The show, which becomes a work in its own right, is described by Rondinone as a ’declaration of love’. ’I structured the exhibition in eight chapters,’ he explains, ’each representing a layer of Giorno’s multifaceted work.’ 

Inspired by pop art’s appropriation of found images and advertising slogans, New York-based Giorno has always strived to make poetry more accessible. In 1968 he launched Dial-A-Poem – a phone service for listening to poems that will be reactivated for the duration of the show (call 0800 106 106!). In addition, look out for Céline’s series of visually striking artworks, which will be displayed around the city during FIAC in support of the Giorno exhibition.

Occupying space on the same floor as Rondinone is Kjartansson, an Icelandic performance artist who presents his first solo show in France, ’Seul celui qui connaît le desire’. Named after a poem by Goethe that sits at the crossroads between music and literature, the show explores the boundary between the banal and the sublime.

Highlights include Bonjour, 2015, a performance depicting a fleeting encounter between a man and a woman that will repeat during the show; and Scenes from Western Culture, 2015, a slideshow of cinematic portraits that simultaneously celebrate and deplore the desires fuelled by Western culture.

Meanwhile, on the museum’s entrance level, Parisian artist Mélanie Matranga (the winner of last year’s inaugural Frieze Artist Award) has installed several immersive and intentionally elusive environments. Titled ’反复 [FANFU]’ (meaning ’again and again’ in Mandarin), the exhibition marks Matranga’s first significant solo show. Reflecting upon interiority with elements linked to social attitudes and habits, Matranga has created two large mezzanines, including a smoking room with Isamu Noguchi-inspired paper lights, loudspeakers and photographic prints and drawings that cover several walls. 

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