Cellar Door (Once is Always Twice)
25 April – 22 June 2008
“This is the story of the Studio, a vast workshop distended in space and time. Even now, machines are whirring, plans are planning, and electrons spinning, all according to a most fantastic choreography.” – From the Cellar Door librett0
The ICA is proud to present the first UK solo exhibition by French artist Loris Gréaud, entitled Cellar Door (Once is Always Twice). Gréaud, one of the most innovative and distinctive artists to emerge on the international art scene in recent years, is presenting a new installation consisting of three almost identical rooms, and which draws on his interweaving interests in art, architecture and music.
Gréaud’s practice is characterised by a desire to fuse different fields of knowledge and activity, in a manner which is both futuristic and utopian. His modus operandi is comparable to that of cinematic production and he often works with experts from diverse disciplines (including architects and scientists). Gréaud’s work is orientated to ideas and processes rather than finished form, and his projects are liable to manifest themselves in different ways over time, and move between rumour and fact.
Cellar Door is an ambitious artistic experiment that has a range of manifestations. One is Gréaud’s installation at the ICA; another is a major exhibition at Palais de Tokyo, Paris (until 27 April); a third is an opera – scored by Thomas Roussel with a libretto by Raimundas Malasauskas and Aaron Schuster – which will be staged at the Paris Opera at the end of the year; and a fourth is the actual studio space which Gréaud is building for himself on the outskirts of Paris. The notion of an artist’s studio is fundamental to Cellar Door: operating as a symbol of imagination and potential, and as the starting point of a perpetual cycle of activity; but also manifesting itself as an actual physical space, one which will provide Gréaud with the tools to realise future projects. The artist considers all of these diverse manifestations of Cellar Door as a single object.
Gréaud’s installation at the ICA, with its three almost identical rooms, reveals another of the artist’s key preoccupations – the notion of doubling and repetition. The repeating elements within the rooms include: high-speed automatic doors which open like shutters; special light-emitting speakers designed by the artist (used to play the opera); a wall-mounted text piece rendered from mirrored lettering (When people tell me that I know how this story is going to end I usually tell them: wait till the end and you will see yourself…); and a carpet with a pattern derived in part from architect Buckminster Fuller’s experiments with the geodesic dome (Fuller is a forefather of the current debate on architecture and global economy, and an emblematic figure for Gréaud).
The title of Cellar Door is inspired by JRR Tolkien’s essay English and Welsh (1955), in which the author and linguist remarked on the beauty of the words ‘cellar door’ – a famous example of euphonious phrasing. A further twist to the project is found in the creation of Celador: a taste of illusion – a bag of sweets (dispensed from a vending machine in the ICA’s bar), specially conceived by the artist, which – disconcertingly – have no taste whatsoever. The artist’s intention is that the consumer can project whatever flavour they like onto it – thus reflecting the open-ended and collaborative nature of the Cellar Door project as a whole.
Loris Gréaud (born 1979 in Eaubonne, lives in Paris) studied at the Conservatoire de Musique in Paris and at the École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-arts de Cergy. Trained across a broad range of disciplines, in the past Gréaud has set up his own record label and in 2004 he created DGZ Research – with architects Marc Dölger and Damien Ziakovic – a multidisciplinary production studio to realize his projects. His solo exhibitions include Silence Goes More Quickly When Played Backwards, Le Plateau, Frac Île de France, Paris (2005), Illusion is a Revolutionary Weapon, Swiss Institute, New York (2006) and Devils Tower, Prix Paul Ricard 2005, Centre Pompidou, Paris (2006). His solo performances include Crossfading, Whitney Museum, New York (2006) and Tremors Were Forever, Mori Museum, Tokyo (2007). His group exhibitions include BMW, IX Baltic Triennale, CAC, Vilnius (2005) and Airs de Paris, Centre Pompidou, Paris (2007).
Loris Gréaud: Cellar Door (Once is Always Twice) is accompanied by an artist’s book featuring the libretto of Cellar Door (published by JRP / Ringier), and a CD featuring a recording of the opera (produced by La Manufacture du Disque). The exhibition in the ICA’s lower gallery runs concurrently with Nought to Sixty, a season of solo projects by emerging artists from the UK and Ireland, taking place in the ICA’s upper galleries (5 May – 2 November 2008).