From 20 April 2017 to 8 July 2017

Prix Marcel Duchamp
A look at the French scene

After their exhibition-event in the Centre Pompidou, Hangar hosts the four artists distinguished by the 2016 Prix Marcel Duchamp

Kader ATTIA (born in 1970), winner
Yto BARRADA (born in 1971)
Ulla von BRANDENBURG (born in 1974)
Barthélémy TOGUO (born in 1967)

“First and foremost, the Marcel Duchamp Prize is the collector’s eye and the enthusiastic view of enlightened amateurs on the current French scene. But in addition to offering a vast panorama of the artists of our times, our Prize bears a humanist message illustrating that French spirit of openness and balance to which I am deeply committed.”  
Gilles Fuchs, President of the Association for the International Diffusion of French Art (ADIAF) 


Created in 2000 by the ADIAF to highlight the French scene, each year the Marcel Duchamp Prize honours a winner from among four French artists or artists residing in France, working in the field of the plastic and visual arts including painting, sculpture, video, photography and installation.  

The Marcel Duchamp Prize deliberately directs its attention to the recognition of the most innovative artists of their generation in the aim of encouraging and confronting every artistic form. Some 70 artists, including 16 winners, have been distinguished by the Prize to date.  

Organized from the outset in partnership with the Centre Pompidou, this collectors’ prize has acquired great prestige, placing it today among the top national benchwork prizes on the international scene.

General text in entrance
Kader Attia, Yto Barrada, Barthélémy Toguo and Ulla von Brandenburg propose works offering a cathartic experience relating to contemporary anthropological and political issues. Consequently, the projects on show are haunted by the rituals and the thresholds of symbolic emancipation. Barthélémy Toguo questions the processes of migration and exchange, whilst Yto Barrada chooses to explore the liberating power of poetry and the illicit crossing of borders. Kader Attia is concerned about the collective significance of individual traumatism, envisioned as a place of wider social transformation.  Mindful of anchoring their research in scientific and ethical questioning, the exhibition allows the artists to portray themselves implicitly as the potential healers of wounded societies. This is the meaning of the shamanic ritual of rebuilding a new community economy based on gift-giving shown in Ulla von Brandenburg’s work.  

Ground Floor
Together the artists engage in a complex post-colonial context that they attempt to understand and repair. In this way, Kader Attia’s series of paintings of stamps dating from the independence of African countries, La désillusion des Indépendances (2014) explores the complex heritage of colonialism in Africa and the Middle East. By staging the utopias of young independent states in quest of modernity, they show the failure of these representations today reduced to tatters, somewhat like this universe-sculpture on the ground, entirely resewn together and encapsulating the unresolved theorem of the contemporary world - chaos+repair=universe (2016). Further on, Barthélémy Toguo’s ladders carry giant sculpted administrative stamps. Created for the last Venice Biennial “All the world’s futures” (2015), they evoke exile and migration, militarization as well as contemporary diseases, marking the walls with their solemn seals and interspersed with messages of hope for the future. Opposite to this conceptual and critical device, Ulla von Brandenburg’s dance of the shamans responds with a ritual gesture of potential healing.   


Ulla von Brandenburg
Confronting film, drawings and threshold-objects, like the big curtain or banner of sewn ties shown here, Ulla von Brandenburg’s filmic installation constructs a space for a contemporary ritual. At the heart of this device, the film It Has a Golden Sun and an Elderly Grey Moon, 2016 treats the notion of colour. A challenge to the confusion of the senses and a force in abstraction, colour is sharply cut into the immaculate space of the staircase, a metonymy for the “white cube” or the contemporary temple of the sun. More particularly, it acts as a social message and signal of exchange: yellow – historically the colour of social misfits – appears like a narrative fetish. The sound of percussions guides the bodies onto the staircase conceived like a social ladder which raises and casts people aside. The ritual performed during the work stages a gift-giving scene symbolized by the sharing of a quilt-cover of aesthetic and political worth: a vital social or “all-over” cover essential to today’s threatened solidarity.   

Yto Barrada
Yto Barrada’s project is inspired by the Sufi poet al-Shaykh Abderrahman el Majdoub, who lived between Fes and Meknes. His quatrains or “Rubaiyat” make up a collection of indocile and often critical proverbs and commentaries on 16th century Moroccan society. Transposed into textile elements that the artist incorporates into flags, the “Majdoub” hold a dialogue with the film La contrebandière about those frontier-women who wear every piece of illegal clothing in their possession in order to cross borders freely. The installation is in keeping with a cycle of works by the artist about the subjective forms of dissidence and the importance of local practices. She emphasizes the significance of the poetic word, a pre-history word, dispersed by collective stories.  

Kader Attia
Kader Attia proposes an installation mixing objects and film, conceived like an analytical space around a film: Réfléchir la mémoire. This is a poetic essay comprised of interviews with surgeons, neurologists and psychoanalysts about the phenomenon of the “phantom limb”, resulting from an amputation, where the subject has the feeling that the missing limb is still connected to his body. This symptom, no doubt caused by “mirror” neurons, liberates the instinctive actions linked to man’s own “mimetic rivalry” as described by the anthropologist René Girard. Between personal and collective wounds, material and immaterial symptoms, the device extends the study of physical and individual amputation to that of the phantoms in contemporary history (slavery, colonization, communism, genocide) and to the question of their repair. Photos of amputated people that have become “sculptures” coexist with the film’s space that has now become plastic.  

Barthélémy Toguo
A group of drawings shows Barthélémy Toguo’s poetic cosmogony, inhabited by the finitude and the hope of redemption, by the instincts of life and death, in an unresolved tension between animal, human and spiritual emotions. The artist explores his own biography to devise an existential story of the world, anchored in its contemporary reality and beyond. The power of corporal embodiment in Barthélémy Toguo’s drawings echoes the “actionist” dimension of his work which often includes performance.