By Patricia Boccadoro
25 October 2002 - Louise
Bourgeois, "le jour la nuit le jour" is the title of an
exhibition organized by illy caffè to celebrate their tenth
anniversary. The Italian espresso coffee maker has chosen to pay
tribute to French-born artist Louise Bourgeois at the Palais de Tokyo,
the new venue dedicated to contemporary artistic creation in Paris.
The show is conceived as a journey erasing physical space, leading the
spectator on a mental voyage in ninety-year-old Louise's company.
film is projectednot autobiographical, but showing fragments of
her lifea life where she tells us, "I break everything I
touch because I am violent. I destroy the relationships I have with my
friends, with my loves, and with my children." She adds she
breaks things because she's afraid, and then spends her time mending
she hasn't yet broken four or five sculptured armchairs, the backs of
which are eyes which resemble side views of giant-sized snails,
seemingly the only tangible proof of her presence here. Placed in a
decor reminiscent of the back streets of West Side Story, they
provided the valiant visitor with an escape from the teeming hordes
around an endless buffet, where piped music put a stop to any
Bourgeois: Eye-Benche II, 2002
Black granite from Zimbabwe 122 x
195 x 118 cm.
Photo courtesy of Palais de Tokyo
is there to see here? " Apples", said a colleague. "Lots
of red apples". Indeed there were, piled high in metre-high
transparent plastic containers, everywhere one looked. "And a
mirror", he added. Effectively, on the top exhibition floor there
was a solitary, oval, concave mirror, which one could admire whilst
listening to ninety-year-old Louise crooning nursery rhymes in a
little creaky voice over the loudspeaker.
I didn't get to taste any illy
caffè, as for many French, coffee is "the drink that wakes
us up in the morning", and isn't drunk at night. Neither did I get
a sample in the take-away kit I was offered at the end; someone had been
in my bag before me. However, I'd been left an originally designed
Louise Bourgeois coffee cup, sugar pink and baby blue, with the words, "Je
t'aime" across it.
the only interesting feature of the exhibition was a rectangular table
laid with coffee cups designed by such artists as Nam June Paik, Mimmo
Paladino, and Jeff Koons. A few were most attractive, some extremely
garish, most, simply curiosities.
feeling wasn't mutual, for as unique as ninety-year-old Louise may be,
neither her work nor this show were quite my cup of tea.
Bourgeois, "le jour la nuit le jour" is on view at
the Palais de Tokyo, Paris through 24 November 2002.
Boccadoro writes on visual arts and dance in Europe. She contributes to
The Guardian, The Observer and Dancing Times and is a member of the
editorial board of Culturekiosque.com.