Claire Fontaine, This neon sign was made by..., 2009. Courtesy the artist and Galeria T293, Napoli. Collection Ernesto Esposito, Rome.

Claire Fontaine: After Marx April After Mao June

 

EXHIBITION: DECEMBER 11, 2009 – JANUARY 31, 2010

 

Claire Fontaine is a Paris-based collective artist founded in 2004. Taking her name from a popular brand of French school notebooks, she has declared herself a “readymade artist,” connoting the type of standardized identity produced by consumer culture. Working in neon, video, sculpture, painting, and text, she creates a version of neo-conceptual art that interrogates the very position of the artist within culture at large. Often with a dark humor, Claire Fontaine experiments with the collective nature of production, either by redirecting objects and language or by creating tools for sharing of intellectual and private property.

 

The title of Claire Fontaine’s Aspen Museum exhibition, After Marx April After Mao June, is taken from a slogan that appeared on a wall in Bologna, Italy in 1977 during the political and cultural revolution that took place there that year. Included in the exhibition will be Passe-Partout (Aspen-Leurre), (2009), a sculpture composed of a set of handmade lock-picks—potential tools for break-ins—which are also associated with fishing flies, lures, and hooks used in the rivers of Colorado. These shiny, sharp objects are simultaneously visually attractive and yet impossible to use. Installed on the exterior of the museum building will be a neon sign that reads Foreigners Everywhere in the Ute language.* It belongs to a series of works in different languages that refer to the fact that the concept of “foreigner” is dependant on context. The light emitted from the neon is a silent reminder of a time when the woods were inhabited only by the indigenous native “Indians”—a time before colonization. The Aspen Art Museum presentation of Claire Fontaine: After Marx April After Mao June will be the artist’s first solo museum exhibition in the United States.

 

Claire Fontaine is Fulvia Carnevale and James Thornhill, whose recent exhibitions include Arbeit Macht Kapital, Kubus, Städtische Galerie im Lenbachhaus und Kunstbau, München; They Hate Us For Our Freedom, Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis; Lucky In The Misfortune, Maison Descartes, Institut Français des Pays-Bas, Amsterdam; Feux de Détresse, Galerie Chantal Crousel, Paris; and The Exhibition Formerly Known as Passengers, CCA Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts, San Francisco.

 

Heidi Zuckerman Jacobson essay

 

* The Utes are an ethnically related group of Native Americans now living primarily in Utah and Colorado. The native Ute language belongs to the Numic division of the Uto-Aztecan family of languages and is a dialect of Southern Numic. However, most current Utes speak only English.

 

Claire Fontaine: After Marx April After Mao June is organized by the Aspen Art Museum and funded in part by the AAM National Council. Publication underwritten by Mary and Harold Zlot. Exhibition lectures are presented by the Questrom Lecture Series.