In extenso hors-les-murs à Mains d’Œuvres, Saint-Ouen
With works by Annabelle Arlie, Melanie Bonajo, Anne Bourse, Lorraine Châteaux, Gaëlle Choisne, Jade Fourès-Varnier, Amandine Guruceaga, Anne Renaud and Caroline Saves
Growing up during the 90’s1 and becoming an artist afterwards, often gives rise to artistic practices quite different from those appearing through this decade. Recent exhibitions having that era for subject did not state much or few about what culture in a broader sense, might have produced and the consequences it had on children and teenagers’ minds. While they certainly feel concerned about it, it is not essentially the art of the 90’s2 that helped shaped the taste and aesthetical orientations of the artists now in their thirties (rarely are the children spontaneously going to contemporary art venues) but a popular culture widely broadcasted by media from that time such as television, radio and magazines. A culture (sportswear, street culture, packaging, music, home design, cultural studies, video clips, blockbusters, spread of drugs…) of which they are so filled with, they feel free and comfortable towards it, to the point they settle it at the very core of their practice, not symbolically (this had been the strategy of pop art), but rather by using its signs as constituents, raw materials, its original meanings and functions being most of the time evacuated.
Meanwhile, the 90’s confirmed the postcolonial studies’ spread out of the academic field, the shift of mindsets towards the ex-colonized and the relative improvement of the acceptance of minorities, through mass culture (see for instance the influence hip-hop culture had on white middle-class teenagers). Hence, the postcolonial issue’s awareness did not happened directly through the academic canals of Edward Saïd or Gayatri Spivak, but rather through the messages of rappers such as A Tribe Called Quest or KRS-One, techno music, Jordans, Spike Lee’s movies and even perhaps the unavoidable, though dubious, Benetton’s advertising campaigns. This period thus witnessed a sort of effective “creolization”, a cultural bariolage similar to multicolored and multi-patterns African fabrics.
After the influence of the 60’s and the 80’s in creation and fashion these 15 past years, the 90’s are now breaking through and spreading, something that the artworks of the artists shown here might bear witness of, but also on a larger scale, their taste, political slant, musical interest, clothing choices… Because artworks are also made of those details that are often wrongly considered a priori meaningless. It is not a question of nostalgia strictly speaking since this interest for the 90’s does not turn down what is going on nowadays, neither does it reject preceding influences: just like anything else, this interest merges into this great cultural maelstrom that could represent our time, made of a plethora of references, of which the origin, uncertain most of the time, favorably feeds creativeness in a broad sense.
Benoît Lamy de La Chapelle
1_ This isn’t a « new generation » type of exhibition, nor an exhibition about the 90’s.
2_ Relational Aesthetic, Young British Artists, Generative Art, Net art, AIDS, « Body politic » and Identity Politics…
In collaboration with Mains d’Oeuvres, Saint-Ouen