October 9, 2016 - Frac Franche-Comté - Max Feed / Dominique Blais: Le Temps matériel
October 9, 2016

Frac Franche-Comté

(1) Max Neuhaus, Water Whistle, 1971. © Estate Max Neuhaus. Photo: Tom Bennet. (2) Dominique Blais, Spherics, 2009. Courtesy the artist and Xippas Gallery, Paris. Photo: Akatre.

Max Feed
Dominique Blais: Le Temps matériel
October 9–December 30, 2016

Frac Franche-Comté
Cité des arts
2 passage des arts
25000 Besançon
Hours: Wednesday–Friday 2–6pm,
Saturday–Sunday 2–7pm

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Two new exhibitions are presented at the Frac Franche-Comté Regional Fund for Contemporary Art from October to December 2016. The first, a collective exhibition, draws on the work and legacy of Max Neuhaus (1939­–2009), a pioneering figure in sound art. The second, a solo show, is devoted to the French artist Dominique Blais.

Max Feed
Seth Cluett, Trisha Donnelly, Nina Katchadourian, Myriam Lefkowitz, Simon Ripoll-Hurier, Sébastien Roux, Matthieu Saladin, Oleg Tcherny, Olivier Vadrot and Max Neuhaus
Curator: Daniele Balit

Second part of the exhibition: Mix Feed, with Samon Takahashi at the Institut Supérieur de Beaux Arts de Besançon, from November 10, 2016

Max Feed is the first collective exhibition drawing on Max Neuhaus’s work and legacy. The exhibition celebrates his career, 50 years after LISTEN, his manifesto-work that marked the beginnings of his experimentation inviting the audience to listen to the post-industrial soundscape of New York. Regarded as the “father” of sound installation, Neuhaus gave up his career as a percussionist and performer in the mid-1960s to focus on creating “aural topographies”—a term referring to installations within both the public sphere and the neglected areas of museums and galleries, giving rise to “social situations” in dialogue with daily life.

Max Feed brings together some 30 studies and drawings, some of which are on display for the first time, as well as a substantial body of archival documents. The selected works relate particularly to Neuhaus’s activity in France. Visitors will also be able to discover two rarely activated sound works: Silent Alarm Clock, an alarm clock created in 1979 that wakens the sleeper with silence, and Five Russians, a sound work originally designed in 1979 for the Clocktower Gallery in New York, reconstructed for the first time following only once before at the Outpost Gallery in 2015.

Max Feed seeks to address Neuhaus’s art, over and above the conventional practice of resorting to his drawings. Nine artists have therefore been invited to resonate with his pioneering work, mostly with new productions. This involves questioning the idea of legacy, not in the sense of an unequivocal transmission, but rather as a releasing of multiple processes, giving rise to a transformative and retroactive action. Indeed, the exhibition’s title touches upon the notion of "feedback," taking the name from a device created by Neuhaus in 1966 (the Max-Feed) for experimenting at home with the effects of feedback on radio and television broadcasts.

Thus, Myriam Lefkowitz probes the listening body in greater depth with the aid of choreographic pulses, while Olivier Vadrot guides that body through the language of design and scenography. Trisha Donnelly silently explores the aural garden principle, while Nina Katchadourian reorients the experience of the urban environment by playing on the fragile boundary between natural and artificial sounds. The pieces by Seth Cluett are an invitation to set oneself likewise at the border between two areas, exterior and interior, by focusing on the translational relationship between territory, architecture and sensory experience. Oleg Tcherny slips into the folds of a seemingly motionless time in order to sway perception. Simon Ripoll-Hurier has us listen to listening itself; Sébastien Roux adds a further layer of refractions between different mediums and languages, and Matthieu Saladin casts doubt on what is fitting to the act of listening.

Through a multiplicity of sensorial experiences and mediums, Max Feed is an invitation to foster the ability to reorient attention. The exhibition is a commitment to a mindful practice acting on ordinary experience—whether in the transformation of perceptive landscapes or in the greater awareness of individual acts within a community.

Dominique Blais: Le Temps matériel
Sylvie Zavatta, director of the Frac Franche-Comté

The Dominique Blais exhibition is organized around the work entitled  Finale (Les Adieux), created for the occasion. It is a transposition of the last movement of Symphony No. 45 (known as the “Farewell” Symphony) composed in  1772 by  Joseph Haydn  who had decided that his musicians should leave the stage one by one, after snuffing out the candle that lit their music stands, gradually plunging the stage into complete darkness up until the last note. Dominique Blais’s project is to have the piece “replayed” by pupils from the Conservatoire de Besançon (CRR) music academy, and to capture the scene using a pinhole camera.

By giving visual expression to the time and beat of the musical performance, enabling us to see what is intrinsically invisible, Dominique Blais is pursuing an artistic line that, since his debut, has focused on materializing the immaterial (time and sound), energy, flux… whether pertaining, for instance, to the electrical properties of glass or to natural radio frequencies.

Many of his works draw on now-obsolete practices such as the pinhole camera or silver photography, or at times on ancestral methods such as glassblowing. Others are reminiscent of archaic or quirky objects and machinery, often virtual in operation. Within this ensemble that is also evocative of transmutation, fire, light, energy, the cosmos or the cardinal points, the works—many of which bear anachronistic titles, humorous borrowings from Latin or Greek—invariably suggest an esoteric universe from another time or, at least, a potential poetic twist on science and mechanics.

The work La Mécanique du temps présent, at the Musée du Temps (Museum of Time) in Besançon, stands in echo.

Frac Franche-Comté
The Frac Franche-Comté Regional Fund for Contemporary Art is one of the 23 Frac created in 1982 to disseminate contemporary art within each region of France. The Frac have three complementary missions: to collect the art of our times, to take it out into the public, and to educate people about art. The Frac Franche-Comté builds and manages a public collection of contemporary art assembling 598 works by 303 artists. Since 2006 the collection has focused on works investigating the broad question of time, this issue being a perennial theme in art history, as well as a topical concern, rooted in the region's history. Since 2011, within this collection of works exploring the notion of time, the Frac has sought to develop an area devoted to so-called "sound" works.

Frac Franche-Comté
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Le Temps matériel
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