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For the third iteration of Palais de Tokyo’s “Carte Blanche” series, in which the entire museum is turned over to an artist, Camille Henrot has created “Days Are Dogs.” On view through January 7, 2018, the show is formed around the days of the week, examining our relationship to human time on both a micro and macro scale. Whitewaller asked the project’s curator, Daria de Beauvais, about Henrot’s exploration of dependency and the banal aspects of human life.
WHITEWALLER: How do you work with the artist differently for “Carte Blanche” than when you are putting together a typical solo or retrospective show?
DARIA DE BEAUVAIS: A “Carte Blanche” is an incredible opportunity for a curator to share, during the few years of preparation (we started discussing the project in 2014), an artist’s universe, researches, and obsessions. I’ve known Camille Henrot and her work for more than ten years, and it is fascinating to witness how her practice has been developing.
Henrot offers a new reading of the building, changing our visiting habits, sometimes modifying the architecture itself. For this “Carte Blanche,” she brings together an extensive group of her own works along with contributions from international artists with whom she maintains a productive dialogue: Jacob Bromberg, David Horvitz, Maria Loboda, Nancy Lupo, Samara Scott, and Avery Singer.
WW: The show “Days Are Dogs” is structured around the days of the week. How was that method arrived upon?
DDB: The exhibition explores the ways in which the invention of the seven-day week structures our relationship to time. It reveals the way the notion of the week reassures us—giving us routines and a common framework—just as much as it alienates us, creating a set of constraints and dependencies.
WW: Can you provide an example of, say, what a Tuesday would represent?
DDB: Tuesday (mardi in French) is the day of Mars, god of war in ancient Roman religion and myth. This section of the exhibition consists of a series of sculptures and a new film. They are combined to demonstrate the binary power structures of sadomasochism, ritual, authority, and control, in order to reveal, through Henrot’s distinct visual language, how these roles are both symbolic and reversible. Tuesday is about relation to force, about passive-aggressive attitude— positions of dominance and weakness forming a dynamic structure.
WW: How is the theme of dependency— at an intimate, collective, and ideological level—explored by Henrot?
DDB: The exhibition is concerned with the most common, banal aspects of human life as viewed through the concept of dependence and its relationship to desire and hope. Furthering her interest in the idiosyncrasies of human existence, Henrot considers dependency as experienced both individually, in the intimate relationships of sex, love, and the family, and collectively, as in relationships of domination such as colonialism, economic injustice, the job market, corporate hierarchies, and consumerism.
WW: Are there new explorations or experimentations for Henrot that we’ll see in the show?
DDB: Henrot’s work is not about delivering a message but about keeping all possibilities open. In the case of “Days Are Dogs,” her research about dependency and the days of the week is a red thread to follow the narration of the exhibition, creating a strong link between her new works and the ones she has previously developed. The week is the foundational structural element of the exhibition because it provides a grid for organizing space and time. But inside this grid, everything can happen!
To read more about what’s going on in Paris this week, check out Whitewaller London & Paris 2017, out now.