Exhibition Review: Double Je (Le Palais de Tokyo)

April 5, 2016

On my visit to Paris, I luckily had a free day before running the marathon on the Sunday. My brother recommended to me that the Palais de Tokyo was one of the best places in Paris to see a nice exhibition or two. And it did not disappoint - there were a few good exhibitions on when I visited but the best of all was Double Je. The concept of this exhibition was pretty interesting - to tell the story of the mystery behind the apparent murder of an artist through a series of installed spaces containing the work of artists and artisans.

The problem I always have with objets d’arte in an exhibition is that they are out of context, the isolated pieces don’t seem to make a clear statement or impact in the same way that individual works of fine art do. This is not the case here. These constructed spaces - the apartment of the artist, his workshop, his garage, etc. - consist of a melange of objects, both functional and decorative, finished and unfinished. The effect en ensemble is to show the fascinations, the obsessiveness and the creativity of this individual expressed though these spaces. Some links are drawn between the free creative exploration of the artist and the anti-social behaviour of the criminal.

As the exhibition goes on, I increasingly feel like I’m falling down the rabbit hole. The links between artist and criminal are strengthened and we feel as though we are arriving at a conclusion. What seems at first as prolific expression of creativity is subverted into something more and more dark and ominous.

Maybe it was my bad French understanding, but I don’t think we were ever told in plain terms what had happened, but it did all the same feel that there was a payoff to the journey. This is good. Usually in a work of art we don’t want to be told what the meaning is, just to let our response arise naturally to what is presented. And what is presented here is both visceral and liberating.