Tuesday 30 August 2011


HUMAN VALLEY – The other side of contemporary history

FROM 13 JUNE 2011-– 14 AUGUST 2011

AUTUMN: «L’amour en e Majeur»
suivi de village à trois: ménage bête
a proposition by Heike-Karin Föll, Jean-Michel Wicker and Gregorio Magnani
26 AUGUST – 30 OCTOBER 2011


The French artist Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster (born in 1965, lives and works in Paris) is known for her film projects, photographs, room installations, collaborations with other artists, scenographies and display situations. Her room installations describe particular moments, evoke atmospheres through memories and projections and enable the emergence of transitory locations. The relationship of the individual to his or her “environment” – between the physical and spiritual “interior” and the “exterior” – is the focus of attention here.

The Kunsthalle Zürich invited Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster to create an area for lingering on the ground floor of the Museum Bärengasse. Working in cooperation with Tristan Bera (born in 1984, lives and works in Paris), they created a hybrid space containing books, films and display cases which are continually open to new uses and the contents of which change according to the different projects being, herald a fictitious and real programme.

Reminiscent the entrance of a small cine-club but also a Godard domestic scenotope (Une femme mariée, 1964) and including a projection room for oblique documents, HUMAN VALLEY is a oneyear display for hybrid presentations of borderline topics. It is also a collective and organic process, open to new encounters along the way...

The project starts with «Balzac Nouvelle Vague» or the question how the French Nouvelle Vague has been shaped by the Balzacian ambition of fiction as big as life – like Eric Rohmer who structured all his cycles in relation to la Comédie humaine, Jacques Demy’s recurring characters coming back from film to film, which is a Balzacian literary finding, or like François Truffaut whose main characters are obsessed with Balzac from Antoine Doinel in Les 400 coups (1959) to Pierre Lachenay in La peau douce (1964), including Jean-Paul Belmondo reading La Peau de chagrin (1831) in La sirène du Mississippi (1969) or Delphine Seyrig quoting Madame de Mortsauf from Le Lys dans la vallée (1835), which Godard also wanted to shoot in 1966, but also like Jacques Rivette who adapted four novels of Balzac.

Often seen as a classical dry author with endless boring descriptions, Honoré de Balzac is the inventor of an incredible optical system that operates with an endless number of characters, and stages them on the front page or the background of a panoramic series of novels. He also invented the notions of prequel, sequel and spin-off among other exciting literary findings. Some of his characters, La femme de trente ans, La Torpille, Eugène de Rastignac, have become archetypes for social studies and in Brazil a forty-year-old woman is now known as a balzaquiana. His less famous, dark and fantastic oeuvre had a large influence, first on the decadent novels and then on the noir modern literature. And as Godard says: “We always talk about an old movie but never about an old Balzac novel...”

In the Bärengasse frame of HUMAN VALLEY – like savage detectives or a combo of passionate readers and movie-goers – Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster and Tristan Bera present their sentimental research on stimulating links between Balzac and the Nouvelle Vague. In relation to this presentation of the first chapter of HUMAN VALLEY there will also be a reading by Catherine Millet (fall 2011) and film screenings – see list on www.humanvalley.ch

After «Balzac Nouvelle Vague» HUMAN VALLEY will invite guests to present their own borderline research – check dates on www.humanvalley.ch

On Sunday, 12 June, HUMAN VALLEY will also present a new gang of fanzines by:
Jean-Michel Wicker
Pablo Leon de la Barra
Jean-Max Colard
Gisele Vienne & Dennis Cooper
Philippe Rahm
Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster & Tristan Bera

Become a member of the HUMAN VALLEY club by sending an email to club@humanvalley.ch and receive invitations to exclusive events by invitation only.

Tristan Bera (born 1984, lives in Paris). Fond of Decadent aesthetics and cross-over exhibitions, he worked on mainstream shows like Dada (2005/2006) at the Centre Pompidou, Richard Wagner, visions d’artistes (2005) and Gainsbourg 2008 at Cité de la Musique in Paris, and worked at Studio Frédéric Sanchez (2008). He received a MA in philosophy and a BA in art history in 2009. He is currently working at Le Pavillon/Palais de Tokyo’s creative lab. Now preparing the shooting of a short film together with Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster and working on a book about J.K. Huysmans.

Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster (born 1965, lives in Paris). Her practice includes environments, films, stage, and architecture. Recently Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster created the site-specific work Desert Park (2010) for Inhotim, Brumadinho, Brazil, and performed K.62/K.85 with Ari Benjamin Myers in New York and Bruxelles and T.1912 at the New York Guggenheim Museum in 2011. Among her recent solo exhibitions are projects for The Turbine Hall, Tate Modern, London (2008); MUSAC – Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Castilla y Léon (2008); Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris / ARC, Paris (2007). Now preparing the shooting of a short film together with Tristan Bera.


Monday 29 August 2011


Feddie Mercurie at the 4th Plinth in Trafalgar Square, London, a proposal by Aleksandra Mir

Freddie Mercury model at Irena Sedlecka's studio

Freddie Mercury models at Irena Sedlecka's studio

Freddie Mercury at current location in Montreaux

Freddie on the Plinth is a proposal by artist Aleksandra Mir to bring the statue of Freddie Mercury back to London on loan from Montreux for one year and to place it on the 4th Plinth in Trafalgar Square. Sign The Petition! http://www.freddieontheplinth.co.uk/petition/

Dear Friends,

For the last 9 months I have been working on documenting the life story of Irena Sedlecka, a now 82 year old Check sculptor who was a celebrated Socialist Realist superstar in Prague before she came to London in 1966. Here she initially supported herself and raised three children by making souvenir models for the shop at the British Museum, slowly returning to her trade in sculpture via 'Talking Heads' in marketing and eventually, twenty years later, landing the commission to create a monumental statue of Freddie Mercury in 1995. This is where Socialist Realism and Glam Rock truly meet.

It has been fascinating and incredibly humbling to learn from a true master, not only of sculpture, but of life itself. Read my interview with Irena here:


The statue itself has an equally fascinating fate. It currently lives in Montreux, where Freddie's rock star exuberant pose, once struck at Wembley stadium now faces the calm waters of lake Geneva. It is has become a popular pilgrim site for fans from all over the world who gather here on what would have been his Birthday, September 5th, yet it seems oddly misplaced.

To make use out of all of this, I have now also created an independent and unsolicited proposal to bring this masterpiece back on loan to London for one year, to return Freddie from his exile and to put him on the 4th plinth in Trafalgar Square. But also, for our generation to take a good look at and experience 'Sculpture' again and maybe to shake up our investment in it a little.

If you like the idea, please read more and sign my petition. It would mean a lot to have my friends blessing before I unleash this on the Freddie Mercury fans!


Thank you!

Aleksandra Mir

PS. The project is - not - an invited or even official 4th plinth commission, so it really can use your support. Forward this mail and break free!

Freddie on the Plinth Proposal
Freddie on the Plinth is a tribute to two people with an unlikely but beautiful connection: the legendary rock star Freddie Mercury (b 1946 – d 1991) and a Czech sculptor called Irena Sedlecka (b 1928). As a student at the Academy of Fine Arts in Prague, Sedlecka was awarded the State Prize for excellence and thereafter created many socialist realist large-scale commissions before fleeing the Communist regime for England in 1966. It was in London, after Freddie’s death from AIDS in 1991, where she received the commission to create a larger-than-life memorial statue in bronze of the rock star.

At that time, 20 years ago, the remaining members of Queen and the executors of Freddie’s estate decided to commission the memorializing bronze statue as the whereabouts of Freddie’s ashes was a closely guarded secret. The statue depicts him at the height of his rock-star power performing at Wembley Stadium, his body in full-stretch rock exuberance, triumphantly gesturing towards an imaginary sea of mesmerized fans. Facing the statue, it is as if you can hear the crowds screaming, the band playing and Freddie’s heart beating – a living spirit captured in bronze by a sculptor at the height of her powers.

Despite the statue’s excellence, Freddie’s enormous contribution to music and the love of his many fans in the UK and worldwide, it was rejected by Westminster Council amidst rumours about homophobia, fear of AIDS and vandalism. Numerous attempts to place the statue on public view elsewhere in London failed and a permanent home for it was never found. Instead, the work was offered to the city of Montreux, Switzerland where the band kept a recording studio, where Freddie had found a retreat from the paparazzi and where the gift was welcomed with open arms. So the statue, with its bursting energy and urban soul was placed facing the quiet and calm waters of Lake Geneva. It has since become a site of pilgrimage for fans from all over the world who gather here every year to mark Freddie’s birthday.

Freddie on the Plinth is also an independent, unsolicited proposal to bring the statue of Freddie Mercury back to London, on loan from the city of Montreux for one year and to place it on the empty 4th plinth in Trafalgar Square: to honour both Freddie Mercury’s and Irena Sedlecka’s artistic legacies; as an exploration of the connections between socialist realism and glam rock; to contemplate the void created by all silences; and to channel love through the celebration and sheer expression of life.

Let's put Freddie on the Plinth
Sign the Petition!
Below are the links that you need to sign the petition, to read the amazing and fascinating interview with Irene herself, and see photographs of the statue as it was being made, and cast.

From Jackie, president of the official Queen fanclub:
"I am in Montreux this coming weekend, to sit with friends from all over the World, in the shadow of the great man - to have that fantastic and beautiful statue here in London, however briefly, would be a dream come true."

Freddie on the Plinth - Petition

Freddie on the Plinth - Proposal

Freddie on the Plinth - Interview

Freddie on the Plinth - Picture Show

Saturday 27 August 2011


From: Mario Garcia Torres
Date: Tue, 28 Jun 2011 13:18:41 -0500
Subject: The Evening Before the Morning After

Yo! I am organizing a small show, or gathering, or event-exhibition, or cocktail menu at Celeste Champagne Bar in Mexico City. I proposed to present each month an artist cocktail in the bar, and I would love,- be honored-, if you accept this invitation. I am asking you to send me the recipe or name or whatever of a cocktail that you like, or that you have mixed or customized yourself to be included in this menu, and which would either have your name or a title that you wish to put to it. How does this sound? It would be amazing if you accept to participate. Here is below an intro text that I wrote for it, and that will be printed in our menu. I look very much forward to hear from you.

All my best,

PS: In case you feel lost on this cocktail world as I was not too long ago, I invite you to enter into it through the Mixilator: http://www.cocktaildb.com/mixilator


The Evening Before the Morning After
Thursday August 25, 2011
Celeste Champagne Bar

Alcohol (as well as drugs) consumption has been historically, and most probable mistakenly, connected to a creative act. Yet there has been a number of visual artists that have resort the old idea of drinking and getting drunk to create their work, both as a medium and as its “content” as the English duo Gilbert & George argued with their Drinking Sculptures series where they took pictures of themselves in that very same act. In one of their most iconic works, besides the one which this menu take its title from, is Gordon’s Gin Makes Us Drunk (1972), the couple is seen on a video piece indulging in the mentioned spirit. Similarly, the entire Andy Warhol film Drink (1965) is a long take of the filmmaker Emile de Antonio downing a bottle of whiskey. The Act of Drinking Beer with Friends -I wouldn’t limit it as only such beverage- is the Highest Form of Art (1970), declared Tom Morioni as he inaugurated what now is called a social situation type of artwork.

By chance, and several years before this, the experience of art through a cocktail was extended after the fact, some would say into the morning after. Those who attended the opening of the French artist Yves Klein at the Galerie Iris Clert in Paris on April 29, 1959 could acknowledge it. For this exhibition the space had been painted with white enamel and stripped of all objects and furniture except for a white, empty cabinet. The almost bare gallery could not be seen from outside as the windows had been painted blue and the door was covered with a heavy curtain of the same color, and two Republican Guards kept watch over it. Nevertheless the artist had arranged for a specific cocktail made with Gin, Cointreau and Curacao to be served. To the French artist’s delight -who had been painting deep blue monochrome paintings made out of a self invented recipe for such pigment- all who enjoyed the drink eventually found their pee stained blue.

Thinking about this and proposing, again, to use the idea of the cocktail as a medium, or more so to use the mixology that such a drink requires to provoke a specific aesthetic experience, or… maybe just as a decoy to have a good conversation, I have invited a number of artists friends to present their own cocktail, either one that they like, have customized or that have put together themselves. Each month a new cocktails by artists will be presented until a full bar menu is completed. As an honorary place, the menu will open with the historic blue cocktail.

Mario García Torres


The Klein International Blue by YVES KLEIN
Gin Bombay Sapphire, Curaçao Amerlalis, Cointreau, lemon juice $95.00

Clamato, vodka Three Olives, green bean pickle $90.00

The Luis Barragán by PABLO LEÓN DE LA BARRA
Tequila Herradura Blanco blessed by a priest $75.00

Happy Stan by STAN DOUGLAS
Vodka Chopin, tequila Corralejo, lemon juice $135.00

Ron Bacardi Blanco, lemon juice, mineral water, ginger syrup, cucumber, mint $70.00

Blueberry tea, Black tea, Amaretto Disaronno, Grand Marnier $150.00

Lemon Soda, Rioja La Vendimia Rioja Red Wine, vodka Three Olives $220.00

Luis G. Urbina by ZELIKA GARCÍA
Moet & Chandon Brut Imperial Champagne, vodka Belvedere $360.00

Araki by ARAKI NOBUYOSHI $25.00

Monday 22 August 2011


The Maya vitrine

Aztec rock figurines

The Maudslay/Palenque lintel casts

The Maudslay cast of the idols in Copan, Honduras, my favourite works in display

My recent studies into Conceptual Maya Archeology took me to revisit the Mexican Gallery at the British Museum. Opened in 1994, at the end of the Mexican presidency of Carlos Salinas de Gortari , it was part of the celebration of the ilusions created by his neoliberal regime and its cultural policies (which included the mega exhibition Splendors of Thirty Centuries at the MOMA, NY). The Mexican Gallery was designed by Teodoro Gonzalez de Leon, who for more than 40 years has been the regime's official architect, and whose buildings are inspired by the monolithic language of Prehispanic ruins, as well as by Le Corbusier and Brutalism.

Seventeen years after it opened, the small (7x11 mts) Mexican Gallery feels escenographical and outdated. A fake Maya arch covered by slate traverses the space and occupies the length of the room, while the floor and side skirtings are covered by white Ancaster Limestone. Different sculptures are located standing over a pyramidal plinth/base (more Egyptian than Aztec!) covered with the same limestone, and a blue/ultramarine semi-suspended showcase contains the Aztec turquoise masks and double serpent, (unfortunately a few years ago it was found that the crystal skull of the collection was not really Aztec and it was removed from the Mexican collection). Cases containing objects from the different Mesoamerican cultures are located in three of the peripheric walls, while the back wall, separated by a portico, is painted in blood red and holds the Maudslay-Yaxchilan original lintels (casts of the other lintels are located in the stairs outside).

If Gonzalez de Leon had used less fancy materials, and maybe had been inspired by Sottsass and the Memphis style instead, we would have had a much more exciting archeological room!


Visit Jorge Pardo's more recent escenographic display in Los Angeles for LACMA's Prehispanic Collection, here.

(post dedicated to Vanessa Arelle, my expedition companion in this visit)

Sunday 21 August 2011


As part of the exhibition 'Incidents of Mirror Travel in Yucatan and Elsewhere' at Museo Tamayo and in collaboration with Alias Editorial, (a non profit publishing and translating project of artist Damian Ortega) we published Robert Smithson's Hotel Palenque in Spanish.

On Alias Editorial:

Alias Editorial's purpose is to spread the work and ideas of authors who are particularly significant to contemporary art. Creations that, for reasons and circumstances, have not been translated, published or disseminated in the Spanish-speaking world; or if published, then are either out of print or were never distributed in Mexico.

A meaning of the Spanish word alias, now in disuse, but the one we prefer, is “differently” (“de otro modo”). Alias publishes books differently, with a style and form all its own. We propose an alternative publishing mode: by copying the original or adapting to it, Alias detaches the text from its origins and places it in a new context. Alias is the twin book, the “alias book”.

Order your copy of Hotel Palenque here:

Saturday 20 August 2011


Cover of the John L Stephens travelogue

Frederick Catherwood/Robert Smithson

Beatriz Santiago / Cyprien Gaillard

Lara Almarcegui / Cerith Wyn Evans

Carla Verea / Los Super Elegantes

Mariana Castillo Deball / Rodrigo Fernandez

Naufus Figueroa / exhibition view

cover of 'The Traveling Book'

A mini catalogue/insert of my exhibition 'Incidents of Travel in Central America, Chiapas, Yucatan and Elsewhere' done at the Centro Cultural de Espana in Guatemala in 2010, was recently included in 'The Traveling Book' the catalogue of the exhibition 'The Traveling Show' curated/edited by Adriano Pedrosa at/for the Coleccion/Fundacion Jumex.