21 April – 19 June 2005
Attention à la suite
opening Wednesday 20 April 2005 at 6pm
exhibition open: Tuesday - Sunday, noon to 6pm - free entry
"The passion for order, codes, and rules is switched on by the anarchy of the gray matter, the free gesture..." (Luc Debraine, "Les étranges rébus de Paul Viaccoz," Le Nouveau Quotidien, 12 December 1992)
The above phrase, which refers to the painting of Paul Viaccoz, is just the thing in fact to begin an attempt to describe the artist's current work.
Scale models built like little theaters and furnished with chairs, tables, or rigorously aligned beds are made to come alive with moving images. Between the exemplary organization of the different pieces of furniture, each executed with the meticulousness of a watchmaker, and the disorder emanating from the films shown inside the models, the contrast is indeed striking.
What are these films about? Dreams, fits of madness, fantasies? Viaccoz, the undisputed hero of each episode, really goes to town. With impish pleasure he puts himself in the role of the hero, not the kind seen on TV, but one that is a perfect match for the hero each of us dreams up as a kid, the hero that allows us to spice up our daily life and transform our misery into marvelous adventures. It is a ridiculously human hero whose mission is not to save the world, but simply to face his own fears. For Viaccoz the hero, it's more his compulsions and dread he has to face.
Paul gets off on his own escapades. He assumes several roles (magician, killer, pratfaller, mushroom hunter, etc.) and the action progresses in a whimsical way. There is no dramatic resolution strictly speaking, but rather a moment of lucidity when, like a dreamer awakening, you open your eyes and say to yourself, Whew, that's over with, Paul is safe.
Safe from his demons? The artist invents a world that would, without his sense of humor, lead us smack into the field of psychiatry. Those spare rooms where nothing is left to chance, where everything is measured, speak of incarceration and shutting up. They flaunt their ambition to regulate the overwhelming flood, but clearly can't halt the explosion of images haunting them.
The spare character of these room-cells, which fixes their identity while depriving them of it, conjures up the world of prisons and psychiatric wards, even concentration camps. Fascinated by rules because they guarantee order, Viaccoz makes his way over a terrain the underside of which he well knows. Order is synonymous with fussiness in the extreme, that is, a retreat into oneself, or it brings together the conditions for the advent of a surveillance state. Viaccoz thus frantically sets about creating distractions that breach this ominous organization and infiltrate the processes of imprisonment at work here.
The Center for Contemporary Images will be showing for the first time a series of videos produced between 2001 to 2005, along with several of the artist's scale models.
In the first gallery stands a large table on which twenty scale models of houses with surrounding gardens are neatly aligned in two opposite rows. Separating these two rows of identical houses, a train runs back and forth from one end of the table to the other. It seems like a well-organized ideal world where each person cultivates his or her garden.
Yet, by association, train and houses quickly shift this idyllic vision, sparking a certain dread by recalling the deportations of another time. This change of perspective is confirmed by the images that are playing out on a television screen. They retrace a journey by train that runs from one station in some European city to another according to an itinerary that is geographically improbable but follows a trajectory of memories bound up with catastrophes or incidents that left their stamp on the sites.
The second gallery displays ten models, in each of which a film is being shown. The ten models offer us in as many episodes the continuing adventures of Paul. Reading a few of the titles throws us into that strange, whimsical world of the artist's that juxtaposes order and chaos: The Race, The Inventory, Dreams, Fits of Madness, Pratfalls and Comedies, Hallucinations, Magic Tricks, and so on. Each scale model represents a hospital room, every one of which bears a title. The Two-way Mirror, Isolation, The Visiting Room, The Operating Room, these conjure up the ghost of psychiatry.
The third gallery offers visitors an epilog to Paul's adventures.
A catalog of 150 photos designed as a flipbook will be on sale in at the Center.
Paul Viaccoz, born in 1953 in Saint-Julien-en-Genevois, lives and works in Geneva.
Graduating in 1976 from Geneva's School of Fine Arts, he first embarked on a career as a painter and draftsman.
A recipient of the Federal Fine-Arts Grant in 1978, '79 and '80, and a grant resident at the Swiss Institute in Rome from 1981 to 1983, the artist regularly exhibited during the 1990s, in particular at the Alice Pauli Gallery in Lausanne and the Jenisch Museum in Vevey.
In addition, Mr. Viaccoz has made numerous interventions in the field of architecture: the main lecture halls in the Calvin and Candolle highschools in Geneva; the Rond-Point de la Jonction Residential Block in Geneva; and the Psychiatric Hospital in Yverdon-les-Bains.
He began shooting his first videos in 2000.
Along with his artmaking activities, Mr. Viaccoz has also taught at the Advanced School of Applied Arts of Geneva since 1998.
Solo shows (selection)
Invitation of the Sciences and City Foundation, (Art and science), Bern
The Circus of Ideas. Arteplage, Yverdon
The Martigny Town Manor
Alice Pauli Gallery, Lausanne
Jenisch Museum, Vevey
Alice Pauli Gallery, Lausanne
Group shows (selection)
Center for Contemporary Printing, Geneva
Artcanal, Erlach (Switzerland)
Alice Pauli Gallery, Lausanne