You can visit up to the 18th of June the new edition, the seventh, of Monumenta, in the great hall (called “nave”) of the Grand Palais, Paris.
Monumenta is an exhibition of contemporary art with one single artist, organized by the French Ministry of Culture and Communication et co-produced with the National Centre of Fine Arts (CNAP – Centre National des Arts Plastiques) and the Reunion of the National Museums – Grand Palais.
Since the first Monumenta in 2007, the show in 2007 was held every year until 2014, when it was decided to make it a bi-annual one.
The exposant is chosen from an international panel. After Anselm Kiefer, Richard Serra, Christian Boltanski, Anish Kapoor, Daniel Buren, Emilia and Ilya Kabakov, this time the artist invited is the famous sculptor of Chinese origin Huang Yong Ping.
Born the 18 February 1954 in Xiamen, province of Fujian, he was a leading member of Xiamen Dada, a radical movement in Chinese art under the watchword “Zen is Dada, Dada is Zen”. He wanted to prove a continuity of his work between the occidental avant-garde and the classical paradox of zen. After travelling through the world he finally settled in France, southward from Paris.
Expressing in his work the great preoccupations of our time (conflicts, economy, politics, religion) he creates a kind of tridimensional philosophical metaphors. It is the case with Empires, the installation specially designed for Monumenta :
Metal containers are stack in eight “hills”, representing the accumulation of richness and the circulation of merchandise in the contemporary world economy.
An oversize cocked hat, inspired by the one Napoleon wore in the battle of Eylau, is forming an arch to evoke the greed for power in the world, where industry magnats, politicians, military men and tyrants of all color dream to wear it.
An enormous aluminium snake slides over all. The body forms a loop suggesting the sign for infinite, to symbolize endless danger. The wide open mouth it THE menace, threatening everything: ambitions, development and economy. All our world, with all its empires, is submitted to the infinite cycle of glory, richness and in the end – destruction. Like all the previous empires.
But the public, after staying in line outside for long minutes, is not impressed by the philosophical meaning. Despite the provision of audio-guides (and listening to), people enjoy the giant installation like a mechanical game, move around, take photos from under it, selfies, get up the stairs to take photos from above, from the gracious Art Nouveau balconies of the building.
Children and adults run through the mouth of the snake, try to pull de thick aluminium ribbs, find the Napoleonian hat kind of practical joke.
The exhibition is evidently an event, but the public do not want more gloomy views over their lives. They prefer to take it as a playground.
Outside the demonstrations against the new law for work go on several times a week. Strikes.
Probably the people coming to the exhibition are sick and tired to look dramatically at their future without any hope and at the future of their children.
Credits photo/video: Le grand Palais, Paris, RFI