Thursday, December 13, 2007

Cartier Foundation

Lee Bul and Robert Adams, the two exhibitions on view now at the Cartier Foundation, on Boulevard Raspail, are complete contrasts in style and medium, but they work well together on some level and it’s definitely worth a stop by the museum.

On the main floor are the seductive, glittery, gorgeous sculptures by the Korean artist, Lee Bul. Lee Bul has been exhibiting regularly since the mid 1980s, doing performance and collaborative based work that involved a lot of costume and set design, as well as sculpture and installation. The exhibition titled “On Every Shadow,” at the Cartier Foundation consists of about twelve large sculptures made primarily with crystals, aluminum and resin. Some of the work is suspended from the ceiling while others are set on the floor, which has been covered in a mirrored surface to allow the work to reflect and resonate throughout the space. Set in the beautiful glass box building by Jean Nouvel, these works are like shimmering jewels with a dark edge. In one sculpture, a clear resin rock formation, lies a body (fake), of a man wearing sunglasses-like a modern day cave man, while in another, a sublime pool of black ink sits in a tub surrounded by small, white mountains. It feels like the fjords in Norway surrounded by oil. This museum works best when the work presented looks good with lots of natural light and open space. As you walk through the space, with the reflected floor, the glass paned walls and the surrounding garden, there is a sense of vertigo- a sensation of being both in and outside at the same time, which is a welcome experience in wintery, gray Paris. Sadly there are no photos allowed indoors so the image is my attempt to photograph from outside.

Downstairs, in the “proper” white walled gallery space is a large exhibition titled “On the Edge,” by the American photographer Robert Adams. Adams has been working since the 1960s, documenting land and space in the American West. His work is classical, formal and simple, but in a very poetic way similar to photographers like Steven Shore or more recently, Tim Davis. But Adams is even more refined, more documentation for documentation’s sake. Like Al Gore, he was way ahead of the world in pointing out the harm being done to the earth by all the development and deforestation. His work has captured early housing developments across the west, desert landscapes in phases of destruction as well as documenting details of leaves and trees. This exhibition brings together a series of landscape images of the Pacific Ocean and the deforestation that borders the ocean in British Columbia. He states that if you stand on the shore and look east, you see the massive forest which is becoming less dense and less massive day by day thanks to the lumber industry. Trees that once stood for 500-1000 years are now cut down for wood chips after 35-50 years. If you turn and face west you behold the vast Pacific Ocean, not immune to its own destruction, but also seemingly filled with hope, change, infinitude. All of the images are 8x10” and in black and white. This is an exhibition for contemplation and serious reflection.

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