Ragnar Kjartansson “Seul celui qui connaît le désir”, Mélanie Matranga “??” and “UGO RONDINONE : I ? JOHN GIORNO” at Palais de Tokyo, Paris
Ragnar Kjartansson “Seul celui qui connaît le désir”
“Sometimes you need to add a little theatre to life and vice versa.”  — Ragnar Kjartansson
Palais de Tokyo is presenting the first solo show in France of the Icelandic artist Ragnar Kjartansson whose singular work is a cross between performance and cinema, sculpture and opera, plein air painting and music. In a poetic and surprising manner, the exhibition portrays everyday desires, longing for the transcendent, blurring the boundary between mundane and sublime.
Ragnar Kjartansson has created several original pieces for his show at Palais de Tokyo. These include Bonjour (2015), a performance which will repeat, during the entire duration of the show, the fleeting encounter between a man and a woman in a life-size setting, and Scenes from Western Culture (2015), a video installation made up of a set of cinematic and idyllic portraits, which simultaneously celebrate and deplore the desires produced by western culture, or Only the one who knows desire (2015), a large scale free standing paintings of icy mountains and rocks, in the tradition of theatre set painting.
The exhibition project conceived by Ragnar Kjartansson for Palais de Tokyo follows a meaningful series of experiences inspired by World Light (1937-1940), the Nobel laureate Halldór Laxness’ well-known four volume epic novel. Considered as the masterpiece of this leading figure of 20th century Icelandic literature, as well as some sort of bible for a lot of artists in the country, the book tells the tragic and eminently romantic story of a cursed poet.
For the title of Ragnar Kjartansson’s show, Palais de Tokyo has adopted the name of a poem by Goethe. A complex object, at the crossroads between literature and music, this poem has been variously adapted and translated. Coming from a novel of apprenticeship, it became a musical composition by Tchaikovsky (1869), then a Frank Sinatra song in 1949.
Curated by Julien Fronsacq.
 Ragnar Kjartansson, interview by Markús Thór Andrésson “Ragnar Kjartansson – A Simple Act of Forgiveness”, Flash Art, Nr. 281, November-December 2011, pp. 78-81.
until 10 January 2015
Ragnar Kjartansson “Seul celui qui connaît le désir” installation views at Palais de Tokyo, Paris, 2015
Courtesy: the artist; Luhring Augustine, New York; I8 Gallery, Reykjavik. Photo : Aurélien Mole.
“UGO RONDINONE : I ? JOHN GIORNO”
With: Angela Bulloch, Anne Collier, Verne Dawson, Judith Eisler, John Giorno, Mark Handforth, Matthew Higgs, Pierre Huyghe, Françoise Janicot, Scott King, Elizabeth Peyton, Ugo Rondinone, Erik Satie, Michael Stipe, Billy Sullivan, Rirkrit Tiravanija, Andy Warhol.
“In the early 1960s, I had the good fortune of meeting a lot of artists. Andy Warhol, Jasper Johns, Robert Rauschenberg, John Cage, Trisha Brown and Carolee Schneeman. These artists and painters were the real influence on me, as a poet. Whether it was a performance or a painting, they did what arose in their minds, and made it happen. It occurred to me that poetry was seventy five years behind painting and sculpture and dance and music. I said to myself, if these artists can do it, why can’t I do it for poetry?”  John Giorno
“UGO RONDINONE : I ? JOHN GIORNO” is the first retrospective of the life and work of the American poet John Giorno (born 1936, lives and works in New York), a key figure of the American underground scene of the 1960s. The exhibition is conceived by Swiss artist Ugo Rondinone (born 1964, lives and works in New York) as a work in its own right. “I structured the exhibition in eight chapters, each representing a layer of Giorno’s multifaceted work. Taken as a whole, they reflect how he works and help us to understand the dual influences that American culture and Buddhism had on his life and art,”  Rondinone explains.
Giorno was an iconic character in Andy Warhol’s early films who found inspiration in the appropriation of found images by Pop artists and captured the real-life colloquial language of advertisements, television, newspapers and street slang. A leading figure in the lineage of the Beat Generation, he revived the genre of “found poetry” and worked to make poetry accessible to all.
Since the mid-1960s, Giorno has developed viral strategies to share poetry with as many people as possible. In 1968 he created Dial-A-Poem, a telephone service offering random access to poems, sound artworks, songs and political speeches. A new version of the work will be accessible for free on the phone number 0800 106 106* (from 19th October 2015 to 10th January 2016), retracing a century of sound poetry, from 1915 to now. You can thus discover the original voices that have marked art history, cultural life, and social movements, from the abolition of the death penalty, to women’s rights… The randomly played pieces reveal the diversity of registers proposed by Giorno, from Antonin Artaud to Louise Bourgeois, Serge Gainsbourg, Simone de Beauvoir, Bernard Heidsieck, Brigitte Fontaine or else Eric Duyckaerts…
Whether they are recorded on an album, painted on a canvas, delivered on stage or deconstructed in the pages of a book, Giorno considers poems as images that can be endlessly reproduced using different technologies. “In the age of sampling, cut and paste, digital manipulation of text, appropriation as art form – which finds its peak in hip-hop and the textual orgy of the World Wide Web – the world is finally catching up with techniques and styles that Giorno pioneered several decades ago.” 
Combining poetry, visual arts, music and performance, the exhibition reveals the significant influence of Giorno’s life and work on several generations of artists who have portrayed him, from Andy Warhol’s cinematic masterpiece Sleep (1963) and its remake by Pierre Huyghe, to R.E.M, Rirkrit Tiravanija, Elizabeth Peyton, Françoise Janicot, Verne Dawson, Billy Sullivan and Judith Eisler.
Famous for his anthropomorphic sculptures, black masks and hyper-realistic clowns, for this exhibition, Rondinone has reinvented the retrospective format as portraiture and recaptures a form of spirituality through the connections between art and poetry.
“The title ‘UGO RONDINONE : I ? JOHN GIORNO” is a collective ‘I’ in which Ugo Rondinone invites each of us to share and to feel the spiritual and political commitment of an iconic figure of American counterculture. This exhibition is not just the first Giorno retrospective; it is a declaration of love that heralds the invention of a new genre.” Florence Ostende
Curated by Florence Ostende.
 Taken from Hans Ulrich Obrist’s interview with John Giorno in 2002, in Hans Ulrich Obrist: Interviews Volume 2, Milan: Charta, 2010.
 Taken from Florence Ostende’s conversation with the artist in December 2014.
 Marcus Boon, “Introduction”, in Subduing Demons in America, Selected Poems 1962-2007, Soft Skull Press, New York, 2008, p.X.
until 10 January 2015
“UGO RONDINONE : I ? JOHN GIORNO” at Palais de Tokyo, Paris, 2015
Courtesy: the artists. Photo : André Morin.
Mélanie Matranga “??”
“I use emotional structures more than formal structures, emotions generated by listening to music, the awkwardness caused by seeing an erotic scene in a public space without expecting it… I take very convoluted routes like these structures to express something without ever truly being able to.” Mélanie Matranga
Ever loyal to its mission to promote young French artistic creation, Palais de Tokyo is presenting the first significant solo show by French artist Mélanie Matranga (born in 1985, lives in Paris).
Her exhibition articulates several environments, several moments, through an ambitious set of works and architectural elements: two large mezzanines, a smoking room made in silicone, paper lights and loudspeakers, photographic prints and drawings that cover several walls. Mélanie Matranga combines signs that reflect upon interiority with elements linked to social attitudes and habits. Together, they make up places where the singular is expressed by the common, and where intimateness is uncovered, exposed. They are places to be lonely with others.
“By working on clichés on youth, their representation and their supposedly passive narcissism, Mélanie Matranga plays with the visitor’s attention and humour; this way she creates holes in the systems of representations we take for granted.” (Benjamin Thorel and Thomas Boutoux, curators)
The title of the show is in Mandarin, ??, pronounced [fanfu] – and means, “again and again.” Intentionally elusive, it participates in the creation of a particular atmosphere, of a state of uncertainty; it then echoes the characters in a short film of the same name by Mélanie Matranga, which is presented in the exhibition.
until 10 January 2015
Mélanie Matranga, “??” installation views at Palais de Tokyo, Paris, 2015
Courtesy: the artist and Karma International, Zurich. Photo : Aurélien Mole.