Camille Henrot

Camille Henrot

Westfälischer Kunstverein

Camille Henrot, The Pale Fox, 2014–15. Exhibition view, Westfälischer Kunstverein, Münster. © ADAGP Camille Henrot. Photo: Thorsten Arendt. Courtesy kamel mennour, Paris and Johann König, Berlin.

February 27, 2015

Camille Henrot
The Pale Fox

21 February–10 May 2015

Westfälischer Kunstverein
Rothenburg 30
48143 Münster

The Pale Fox, the expansive installation building on Camille Henrot’s previous project, Grosse Fatigue (2013), deliberately sets out to overwhelm and overtax the viewer. The sheer number of objects, the concentration of the stories behind them, the splicing of different disciplines from the most diverse fields of knowledge, competing principles of classification and, not least, the sensory experience within the space itself, blanketed in an atmospheric, endlessly looped soundtrack (composed by Joakim Bouaziz) and the brilliant azure of the walls and the floor, coalesce en masse to demonstrate the excesses of an unbridled urge to collect and horde, an excessive, almost pathologically compulsive desire for order, which ultimately is condemned to spill over once more to create its own disorder. 

Her interest in and engagement with the history (of the origins) of our universe no less culminated in her video work Grosse Fatigue for which she was awarded the Silver Lion at the 2013 Venice Biennial and that is shown in a separate room. Based on this research and as an extension of this specific methodological approach of connecting external (historical, philosophical, literary and other) sources with personal experience and internal processes, Henrot began her work on The Pale Fox, in which she concentrates upon our endeavour to make sense of the world and our existence via objects that surround us and the way in which they relate to one another.

The “pale fox” in the exhibition’s title is of particular importance here, inasmuch as it represents the very creativity and creation as well as chaos to which we are prone by virtue of the obsessive “cataloguing psychosis” demonstrated here. It forms an essential part of the mythologies and origin story of the West African Dogon people who were the subject of an eponymous, detailed anthropological study conducted by Marcel Griaule and Germaine Dieterlen, which decisively influenced Western perceptions of African culture when it was published in 1965. In the complex cosmology of the Dogon, the “pale fox” assumes the role of the inexhaustibly creative individual who repeatedly undermines and destabilises seemingly perfect “divine” plans.  

We are all exposed nowadays to an excessive abundance of visual information and knowledge. In our world of instantly available knowledge about the world, we are all too familiar with the feeling of restlessness that both the installation and, above all, the video Grosse Fatigue amply communicate. Thus, in the figure of the pale fox, Camile Henrot has identified a symptom of our digital age: the avid human driven by curiosity and impatience, whose pale complexion reflects the luminous play of the computer screen through which he peers at the world at night from the sanctity of his burrow.

Camille Henrot was born in Paris in 1978 and lives and works in New York. Among her latest solo exhibitions are presentations at the New Museum, New York (2014), the Schinkel Pavillon, Berlin (2014), the New Orleans Museum of Art (2013), as well as at the Slought Foundation, Philadelphia (2013).  In 2013 she held an artist research fellowship at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington where she produced the video work Grosse Fatigue. Henrot also won the Kunststiftung NRW’s Nam June Paik Award (2014). 

The Pale Fox is commissioned and produced in partnership with Chisenhale Gallery, London, Kunsthal Charlottenborg, Copenhagen, and Bétonsalon – Center for art and research, Paris. At Westfälischer Kunstverein, The Pale Fox is supported by Kunststiftung NRW and Brillux.

To accompany the exhibition Camille Henrot has produced a new limited edition silkscreen print titled Working/Resting, 2015. 

An artist book co-published by Westfälischer Kunstverein is forthcoming in 2015.

With thanks to kamel mennour, Paris, and Johann König, Berlin.

Westfälischer Kunstverein
Founded in 1831, Westfälischer Kunstverein is one of the oldest art associations in Germany and has developed an internationally recognised reputation for working with artists at pivotal stages in their careers. Westfälischer Kunstverein is supported by Landschaftsverband Westfalen-Lippe and the City of Münster.

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