Loris Gréaud's trail of destruction at Dallas Contemporary

Demolition man: Loris Gréaud's smashing takeover of Dallas Contemporary Primary tabs
(Image credit: press)

What would you do if you witnessed a piece of art being destroyed? It's this exact unnerving situation that the French conceptual artist Loris Gréaud put his guests through during the unveiling of his first major US exhibition, 'The Unplayed Notes Museum', at Dallas Contemporary. At the opening, the show - which occupies the institution's entire 26,000 sq ft space and spans sculpture, paintings and film - was destroyed by a band of seemingly normal guests - just as Gréaud had planned.

'I wanted to create a museum within a museum,' says Gréaud of the anarchistic concept, which saw the gallery's alarms go off and lights shut down as people violently overturned works, defaced paintings and smashed sculptures. He continues: '[The destruction] is a nihilistic gesture, but its more than just commenting on the art world. It's a way for people to confront their feelings of fear and desire. We've all wanted to act out, revolt and destroy something.'

Working with actors and stuntmen, Gréaud carefully choreographed the destruction that would take place in mere minutes, with numerous rehearsals taking place in the weeks running up to the big reveal. Of course, Gréaud first had to fill Dallas Contemporary's five gallery spaces, which he did with real work made over the course of a year.

Gréaud sought to create a new natural history museum of sorts and his creations weave together elements of botany, sexuality, chemistry and zoology. From a herd of unrecognisable animals surrounding a tree from Vietnam, its roots exposed in the air, to a brooding group of abstracted classical statues, the exhibit is pure Gréaud, whose work has consistently manifested itself as fearless, and mutli-faceted experiences. A cluster of towering angels, each six metres tall, stand in a stoic circle in one gallery. One lies smashed on the floor.

Speaking to us a few days before the opening night's debauchery, Gréaud said, 'I feel really proud of the work now that the installation is finished,' admitting that he was anxious about what would happen on the evening itself, despite having the full support of Dallas Contemporary. 'We destroyed one piece during a rehearsal, and it was really painful,' he says.

Post-destruction, the untouched exhibition is a provocative reaffirmation of the intentions and events of that one night. 'More important than the event is what's left,' Gréaud said after, stating that his ultimate intention was to focus on the show's two opposing states: perfection and destruction. Asked whether he would do it again, Gréaud's answer is a prompt no.

Loris Greaud Dallas

On the opening night, the show - which occupies the institution's entire 26,000 sq ft space and spans sculpture, paintings and film - was destroyed by a band of seemingly normal guests

(Image credit: press)

Loris Greaud Dallas

Gréaud first had to fill Dallas Contemporary's five gallery spaces, which he did with real work made over the course of a year

(Image credit: press)

Loris Greaud Dallas

'I wanted to create a museum within a museum,' says Gréaud of the anarchistic concept, which saw the gallery's alarms go off and lights shut down as people violently overturned works, defaced paintings and smashed sculptures

(Image credit: press)

Loris Greaud Dallas

The artist sought to create a new natural history museum of sorts and his creations weave together elements of botany, sexuality, chemistry and zoology

(Image credit: press)

In one gallery, a cluster of towering angels, each six metres tall, stand in a stoic circle...

In one gallery, a cluster of towering angels, each six metres tall, stand in a stoic circle...

(Image credit: press)

Loris Gréaud's trail of destruction at Dallas Contemporary

...while one lies smashed on the floor

(Image credit: press)

Loris Greaud Dallas

Working with actors and stuntmen, Gréaud carefully choreographed the destruction that would take place in mere minutes

(Image credit: press)

Loris Greaud Dallas

Says the artist: '[The destruction] is a nihilistic gesture, but its more than just commenting on the art world. It's a way for people to confront their feelings of fear and desire. We've all wanted to act out, revolt and destroy something.'

(Image credit: press)

Loris Gréaud's smashing takeover of Dallas Contemporary

Post-destruction, the exhibition will remain untouched for its entire run. What is left is more important than the event itself in the eyes of Gréaud

(Image credit: press)

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Dallas TX 75207
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Pei-Ru Keh is the US Editor at Wallpaper*. Born and raised in Singapore, she has been a New Yorker since 2013. Pei-Ru has held various titles at Wallpaper* since she joined in 2007. She currently reports on design, art, architecture, fashion, beauty and lifestyle happenings in the United States, both in print and digitally. Pei-Ru has taken a key role in championing diversity and representation within Wallpaper's content pillars and actively seeks out stories that reflect a wide range of perspectives. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband and two children, and is currently learning how to drive.