Manon / Real Madrid: Postoristoro

Manon / Real Madrid: Postoristoro

Centre culturel suisse, Paris

May 8, 2021
Real Madrid: Postoristoro
May 9–July 18, 2021
Centre culturel suisse, Paris
38 rue des Francs-Bourgeois
75003 Paris

T +33 1 42 71 44 50

A trailblazer on the Swiss performance and art scene since the mid-1970s, Swiss artist Manon (b. 1940, lives and works in Zurich) is a seemingly inexhaustible source of thought-provoking radical social commentary. Her subversive way of tackling shifts in society, feminism, and the sexual revolution resonates with the current debate on hierarchical power relations and notions of identity, particularly gender identity.

Her photographic series and photo-performances reflect the gradual elaboration and metamorphosis of her persona—Manon. The figure presents itself—or she presents herself—in serial masquerades of potential identities, and variously as a sexualized body, an androgynous character, or a cross-dresser (La dame au crâne rasé, The Lady with the Shaved Head, 1977–78; Elektrokardiogramm 303/304, 1979). More recently, her self-portraits are pervaded by fragility, age, and illness (Borderline, 2007; Hôtel Dolores, 2008). This tension between intimate space and its dramatization, personal experience and artificial appearances was the base note in her first ever work, Das lachsfarbene Boudoir (The Salmon-Pink Boudoir, 1974). The luxuriant cosmos bursting with rhinestones, lingerie, feather boas, and fetishes, a sheer explosion of encoded hyper-femininity, was her own bedroom. 

Manon also pioneered the practice of performance as a staged tableau or installation, creating immersive environments or edgy voyeuristic scenarios to investigate male-female power dynamics, exhibitionism, and role reversal. 

To this day, she deploys provocative readings of female existence as a feminist strategy, challenging heteronormative roles and constraints, and exploring how the gaze can make or break patterns of objectification and power shifts. In addition to her work of photography and large-scale installation, Manon continues to fathom her field of existential inquiry by writing every day.

Real Madrid: Postoristoro
Real Madrid has been using this collective name since 2015, to highlight causes of populations stigmatized, excluded, and oppressed by the dominant and normative sectors of society. The autonomous and proud protagonists of their universe are LGBTQIA+ communities, people with sexually transmitted infections, especially HIV, and young people in search of places to meet and be free in public space. To subvert the degrading or condescending public discourse that targets these people, Real Madrid lets their imagination run wild and breathes life into these stereotypical objects of prejudice: small cartoon figures, urban furniture, decaying fruit, and product packaging populate their installations. Through these everyday objects, elements with an anodyne Pop aesthetic gleaned from the collective imagination, Real Madrid reveals that the root causes of social exclusion and discrimination are skewed perspectives, phobias, and mechanisms of “othering” (i.e., of treating someone as “other,” unfamiliar, and disturbing).

This long-term project of Real Madrid has gained new relevance in the current crisis, given that public health management is now in the spotlight, while stigmatization and social inequality are on the rise yet also increasingly invisible. 

For Postoristoro, Real Madrid drew inspiration from a place (posto) of refreshment (ristoro), taking as their model those small-town bars, open 24/7, which have the dreary air of a gas station or train station restaurant. The exhibition title is taken from a short story from 1980 by P.V. Tondelli, which, although set in the 1970s, against a backdrop of workers’ struggles, sexual liberation movements, job losses, and the heroin crisis, is still imbued with hopes of a better life and an elsewhere.

Until the reopening of the French cultural sites on May 19, exhibitions are open upon request to professionals by writing to accueil [​at​]

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Centre culturel suisse, Paris
May 8, 2021

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