Sturtevant

02.26.10

Left: Sturtevant, House of Horrors (detail), 2010, mixed media, dimensions variable. Installation view. Right: View of “Sturtevant,” 2010. Clockwise: Finite Infinite, 2010; Duchamp Ciné, 1989; Gonzalez-Torres Untitled (America), 2004. Photos: Pierre Antoine.


The renowned Paris-based American artist Sturtevant has been defying—and fulfilling—expectations for over forty years; the best known of her works push the limits of the copy and the counterfeit through repetition. “The Razzle Dazzle of Thinking,” her exhibition at the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville in Paris, is on view until April 25.

THERE ARE TWO SECTIONS TO THIS SHOW. One is called “Wild to Wild” and contains works from the 1970s to the present, including Duchamp 1200 Coal Bags [1972], Gonzalez-Torres Untitled (America) [2004], Vertical Monad [2008], and Finite Infinite [2010]. Finite Infinite is projected on a 141-foot curved wall. The other part of the show, which is also a new work, is the House of Horrors. It is in complete opposition to “Wild to Wild.”

The house is a classical carnival design, a ghost train. It was fabricated by JES Studio in France. The entrance has gray stones with skeletons and other scary things. When you enter it’s all dark, and you hear screaming, banging, and flying bats. You’ll be scared, and that’s fun.

The carts in the work come from an original house of horror. They are very beautiful, incredible. JES Studio made the automated pieces like the Frankenstein who rises up from his gurney to the sound of great organ music, a dead head that moans and groans, a skeleton that jumps out almost into your cart, and, of course, the wonderful Divine with her doggy in the window. The studio knew other studios that then did the makeup, clothes, sound, lights, and engineering.

When you go into the museum, you turn and there are very beautiful steps that lead up to the famous Dufy Room, which I concealed with another new work, Elastic Tango, a nine-monitor video. It’s intrusive, big, and visual. The monitors are shaped in an inverted pyramid and the videos are devised as a three-act play in a very formal sense: presentation of problem, escalation of conflict, and then resolution without narrative. The resolution is, obviously, simulacrum.

The dynamic force is the razzle-dazzle of thinking.

That’s what I did, and that’s what it does.

Voilà!

— As told to Lauren O’Neill-Butler