Remix (Photography), the final exhibition of the Making Things Happen cycle, shows the work of six young French artists. It traces the weight of photography across other mediums of the young artist cycle—painting (Elsa Tomkowiak, Zhu Hong), sculpture (Boris Chouvellon, Mengzhi Zheng, Sylvie Bonnot), drawing (Zhu Hong, Zheng, Bonnot), performative action (Mary Sue, Chouvellon), architecture and structures (Zheng, Chouvellon, Tomkowiak), as well as art photography and moving image proper (Bonnot, Mary Sue, Chouvellon). All six artists start by interrogating spaces and collecting visual field notes on contemporary society. And in all cases the camera enters their creative process, but at different stages and for different forms of exposure.
Fully proficient in photographic art and technique, the young practitioners of Remix opt to engage with the theme of the object and image. Bypassing the artifice of the digital, the overtly political, or even the use of the medium as a conceptual tool, all six focus on photography-based objects and signal the conceptual through the material. Fully conscious that our image-making gaze is a product of social powers and unconscious desires and not strictly optical, they masterfully redeploy photographic indexing and iconographic currency. In the process, they create works based on real experiences, which might be collectively significant or personally dear.
Sylvie Bonnot (1982, FR) is a determined photographer focused on uncharted natural and urban landscapes; back in the studio, she makes her images rupture, volumize as sculptures, or materialize like skin. Remix highlights her new work. Zhu Hong (1975, FR born CN) and Mengzhi Zheng (1983, FR born CN) start with circumstantial photography, and the exhibition includes their Amsterdam-rooted works. Zhu Hong’s lens captures the visual material that our eyes would omit; she then brings it back to light in painting and drawing. Zheng’s focus is on architectural details, which he first registers in drawings and etched plates; his aims are, however, painterly three-dimensionality and architectonic color. Responding to photography in her vision of color, Elsa Tomkowiak (1981, FR) paints to achieve visual transparency or opaqueness; her new small spectral drawings make a vibrant painterly contribution to Remix. Mary Sue begins in reverse by drawing out the artifacts for her performances: these initial comic strips become laboriously turned out as videos, sculptures, and photographs that exploit her eponymous alter-ego. For Boris Chouvellon (1980, FR), photography takes a place on par with the rest of his output in video, sculpture, and installation. The title of his continuous geographic study cum series, Boris Chouvellon—Photographer, sets out this position and contributes to the overall theme of Remix.
Young Artists Remix (Photography) rounds up the 2017/18 Making Things Happen cycle at TMH. The project was conceived by Marsha Plotnitsky, TMH Founding Artistic Director, and the art writer and curator Hubert Besacier, who followed the careers of all participants. At the heart of the program is TMH’s duel mandate: to bring out each artist’s enterprise through exemplary installations and catalogues and, from within the exhibition projects, to articulate a line of thought that could be shared and yet avoid the too familiar. The cycle, and its concluding segment Remix, aim to broach the question: How do young artists insert themselves into the history of their chosen art medium?