About

apfc-july-0941small4web-copie_0 A Problem For Critics : The name of this artist collective, already sounds like a challenge to define it with a single word, an invitation to propose a definition, already inadequate, impoverished and frozen, as if since its birth, the collective could foresee a disarmed critic.

Thus, the collective appropriates and extends the ‘A Problem For Critics‘ exhibition of 1945 at 67 Gallery, New York, when, in the middle of the triumph of a new ‘-ism’ Howard Putzel highlighted the frantic necessity to classify emergent artistic forms through a constraining eye, as a means to provide an orderliness and packaging to the work that the spectator could contemplate and claim for himself, at the risk of impoverishing and reducing the work’s polysemy.

Sixty-five years later, Putzel’s ideas on the vanity of classification take on a new meaning. While the notion of an aesthetic movement, structured by a critic or the publication of manifestos or other revues which used to accompany the genesis of the avant-garde seem to have lost their magnitude in contemporary art spheres, the critic or the art historian’s role from now on is to be confronted with new practices, playing and toying with creation and codes of exhibition.

On July 2009, at L’Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts de Paris, A Problem For Critics’ first exhibition introduced a constellation of young artists : Dmytro Afanasenko, Hicham Berrada, Vincent Cavanagh, Sarah Derat, Marc Johnson and Mickael Mergui, mixing sculpture, photography, video, performance, painting and music. While on the contemporary scene, any proclamation of a new cohesion could appear obsolete, A Problem For Critics, through a series of manifestations, has chosen to question the implications of exhibiting collectively nowadays. In an era diagnosed by Jean-François Lyotard as “the end of metanarratives” the collective approach emphasizes a reflection on the possible way to acquire a visibility in an art world that is diluted and in constant mutation.

To employ the term of exhibition on the subject of the manifestations orchestrated by the collective resembles an underestimation, it would be necessary to redefine an appropriate word. In fact, these young artists, through the confrontation of different media, invite us to a true sensory experience, in which music and performance inhabit the space in order to activate, capture a renewed attention, turning the spectator’s visit into a journey in constant evolution, both visual and sonorous, where perennial or so called perennial forms, known under the label of fine arts, enter in resonance with movement and the ephemeral. More than an exhibition, these artists create an environment, an invitation to dive into their unusual, fantastic and disturbing universe made out of unstable materials, performances and musical creations doomed to disappear in order to reappear somewhere else, in a different way but always improved.

From ‘A Problem For Critics’ in July 2009 at the gallery of L’Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts, to ‘Il y a…‘ at the Parisian gallery L’ Espace Lhomond in November 09 or ‘Scenes from the Imaginary Landscape‘ at the Kino Ciné in Lille in December 09, venues which are respectively : a prestigious art school with its classical, historically-rich architecture, a ‘white cube’ characterised by its neutral space ripped out of the real world and a renowned art house movie theatre / concert hall. Three different spaces, three different manifestations all questioning the exhibition space, its nature and the end of the supremacy of the museum provoking the need to refract it all through A Problem For Critics’ hybrid practises. Maybe even going some way to providing a means for other collectives to follow.

Beyond a critical problem, this artist collective invites you to a direct experience, often disconcerting, and to an environment reconstructed by the art, where the only conclusion would be the birth of a new scene filled with their fugitive visions.

Anaïs Grateau, Curator – A Problem For Critics