Paris Diary - Inside at Palais de Tokyo

© Numen/For Use, Tape Tokyo. (2013) Photo : Junpei Kato courtesy Spiral/Wacoal Art Center

Inside at Palais de Tokyo is one of the darkest and creepiest exhibitions I've been to. It was wonderfully bizarre, dark, disturbing and sometimes humorous. This too had lots to see. 

The exhibition features work by more than 30 artists, it's quite a mental trip.

Inside offers visitors a passage to the interior of the self, for which the exhibition space serves as a metaphor. This immense odyssey, both physical and psychological, invites us to walk through two floors of the Palais de Tokyo that have been transformed by artists in such a way that, from one installation to the next, we remain constantly immersed in the works, which lead us within ourselves – from our skin to our most intimate thoughts.

There was this warning at the ticket desk, which I guess sums up the exhibition:

Some of the works included in the exhibition "Inside" seek to plumb the darkest folds of the human soul and may effect certain visitors, particularly children. 

Here's a small selection of work from the exhibition. You can see the complete list of artists and some of their work here. The exhibition is on till 25th January 2015. 

Sookoon Ang

© Vue d'exposition, Inside, Palais de Tokyo (2014). Sookoon Ang, Exorcise Me.

Exorcise Me is a video installation across four screens, creating an environment that engulfs the visitor. Teenage girls in school uniforms, death masks painted on their faces, pose with languor and composure. The makeup is in reference to the gothic lexicon of heavy metal while their attitude recalls that of the self involved young girls painted by Balthus.
Adolescence is a particularly intense moment in the exploration of the self. Doubt, anxiety, the search for one’s identity and one’s relationship to the world give way to a discomfort typical of the passage from childhood to adulthood.
Through the use of photography, video and sculpture, Sookoon Ang (born in 1977, lives and works in Singapore and France) deals with the question of existence and its uncertain nature. Emotions, daily life and notions of reality and perception are present in her work, making us reconsider our perceptible environment.

Christophe Berdaguer and Marie Péjus

© Berdaguer & Péjus, C.28, 2014. Inside, Palais de Tokyo (2014) Crédit photo : André Morin © Berdaguer&péjus. © ADAGP / Paris 2014.

For the exhibition Inside, artists Christophe Berdaguer and Marie Péjus (born respectively in 1968 and 1969, live and work in Paris and Marseille) present their installation E.17 Y.40 A.18 C.28 X.40 0.13,5 composed of a series of sculptures based on drawings made by patients during a psychological test in which they were asked to draw a tree.
Each drawing channels unconscious determinations from within the patient whose psychological state generates a set of forms and constructions. The three-dimensional materialization of these drawings creates shared and sharable “self-portraits” that we can relate to, from the standpoint of our own histories, traumas and failures.
Berdaguer & Péjus manipulate symptoms of existence such as emotions and pathologies in order to generate forms, revealing the state of the world and the way in which people continuously invent new remedies to adapt to the necessities of their time.

Peter Buggenhout

Vue d'exposition, Inside, Palais de Tokyo (2014). Peter Buggenhout, 2014. Crédit photo : André Morin

Peter Buggenhout (born in 1963, lives and works in Ghent) has created, with Hold On (2014), a hybrid and imposing site-specific installation that seems, at first glance, to be an abandoned structure or a derelict building. It creates a sense that one has arrived too late, after the world has ended. 
The work leaves the viewer no other choice but to follow a labyrinthine and uneven pathway, amid the debris of gutted caravans and flaccid bouncy castles that one must nevertheless penetrate.
Peter Buggenhout’s sculptures and installations seem to emanate from chaos, but an organized chaos, usually to a monumental scale.
Assemblages of dust and trash mixing the organic, the mechanical and the industrial, his works are like so many relics of the mundane elevated to the rank of spiritual altar. The visitor is caught between fascination and fear, and by the anguish of not knowing what he is dealing with: the loss of one’s bearings is reinforced by an ode to the amorphous.

Marc Couturier

Marc Couturier, Troisième jour (Wall Drawing), 2014. Graphite. Vue d'exposition, Inside, Palais de Tokyo. Crédit photo : André Morin

For the exhibition Inside, Marc Couturier (born in 1946, lives and works in Paris) was invited to continue his series of drawings entitled Troisième jour [third day] by realizing a monumental mural. This series refers to the Book of Genesis in which, on the third day of Creation, the waters withdraw from the earth on which Nature and vegetation are then created.
These pencil drawings flow in one spontaneous and continuous gesture; they are a permanent dialogue between the artist’s intuition and will. And indeed the viewer can apprehend this work through an intuitive approach in which the landscape of Creation’s original surge reveals itself little by little. Majestic and delicate, the piece calls for contemplation and surrender and indicates that poetry exists inside each of us, away from reality.
Marc Couturier gathers and collects objects and materials, identifying their poetic potential that he then reveals to the world. Lines and materials form a body of work that relates to monumental sculpture, such as the work Lames which suggests a contemplative relationship to the work of art.


dran, Attention de ne pas tomber, 2014. Vue de l’exposition « Inside », Palais de Tokyo (20.10.14 – 11.01.15). Photo : André Morin.

The painter dran (born in 1979, lives and works in Toulouse) has taken over the big staircase connecting the two floors of the exhibition Inside. Unexposed to natural light, this graphic tour exclusively painted black feels like a descent into the bowels of the building.
Filled with souvenirs, observations and emotions, stories and anecdotes, this intervention constitutes a spatial portrait that unfolds as one walks down the stairs. Comics, caricature and graffiti accompanied him all along his studies at the school of fine arts in Toulouse, creating a parallel world to a reality he felt he didn’t belong to.
He gained recognition through his books, such as La télévision (2005), Ma ville, je l’aime (2005) or 100 jours et quelques (2010), suffused with satire, humor and a surrealist spirit. dran speaks through imagery as a mime would scream. Drawing and its therapeutic side are his link to the world outside and life.

Marcius Galan

Vue d'exposition, Inside, Palais de Tokyo (2014), Marcius Galan. Crédit photo : André Morin

Diagonal Section (2014) is an apparently illusionist work by Marcius Galan (born in 1972, lives and works in São Paulo) that enables the visitor to pass “through the looking glass”, taking him on an initiatory journey. A work of great simplicity, this on-site installation features a symbolic obstacle – insurmountable in principle – that only the bravest – or the most reckless – will succeed in overcoming.
The artist proposes here a play on the perception (physical or mental) of our surrounding space. The intent is to deceive our senses: the work seems to dematerialize under our very eyes. A minimal and contextual approach producing work of great formal neutrality is at the heart of Marcius Galan’s practice.
The artist creates a physical as well as mental unease with works that hover on the border of the usual systems of representation: what we see at first glance is never the true essence of the work. His architectural interventions and sculptures replace reality with its double and confront us with the representations that structure our relationship to space.

Mike Nelson

Vue de l’exposition « Inside », Palais de Tokyo, Mike Nelson, Studio Apparatus for Palais de Tokyo ou The Exorcism, 2014. Crédit photo : André Morin.

Mike Nelson (born in 1967, lives and works in London) continues a serial work initiated in 1998 at Camden Arts Centre (London), and continued at the Mamco (Geneva) in 2005. The artist occupies what he has referred to as a “studio apparatus,” constructing a work which exists somewhere between exhibition and workshop. Nelson sees it as a creative space in which former objects and materials, as well as ideas, are preserved and re-articulated, a mechanism of sorts to predict the future of his own making. 
The piece proposed for “Inside” will be echoed with another work created concurrently at the Kunsthalle Münster. Each “apparatus” uses as a starting point an introduction to the book School for Crusoes, in which Jules Verne parodies his favorite genre of the “Mysterious Island”. Nelson uses these ideas of parody, as well as the motif of the island and the now clichéd scenario of its inhabitant, to conceptually construct the piece. The visitor is invited to enter into the psyche of the artist at a particular moment, between his past and future, an elusive chimera that one could consider as the present.

Numen/For Use

Tape Paris, Numen/For Use. Exposition INSIDE, Palais de Tokyo (2014)

Made up only of transparent Scotch tape, this monumental installation by Numen/For Use (Sven Jonke, born in 1973, lives and works in Berlin; Christophe Katzler, born in 1968, lives and works in Vienna and Nikola Radeljkovic, born in 1971, lives and works in Zagreb) sprawls throughout the Palais de Tokyo’s entrance hall like a stretched canvas.
The arms of this mass hanging off the building reveals glimpses of its organic innards. The structure invites visitors to walk towards the starting point of the exhibition, Inside. The bravest have the possibility of penetrating into this protective matrix and the journey through it constitutes the first stage in the exploration of an inner space that is physical as much as it is mental.
Numen/For Use is a collective that, since the 2000s, has also worked in the areas of scenography and the visual arts. Their experimental creations – not destined for any preconceived use – are usually immersive and always activated by the viewer.

Stéphane Thidet

Stéphane Thidet, Le Refuge, 2014. Inside, Palais de Tokyo. Crédit photo : André Morin

Le Refuge by Stéphane Thidet (born in 1974, lives and works in Paris) is a wooden cabin, equipped with a few pieces of furniture, similar to those in which mountaineers and hikers might spend the night in the mountains. Yet who would dream of entering this cabin as it’s raining inside? Watching the rainfall through the window doesn’t produce a feeling of pleasure or security.
Rather, the viewer is faced here with a reversal of outside and inside, of a refuge turned into a hostile place. The refuge is therefore to be found outside, perhaps within us. Stéphane Thidet manipulates objects and forms, proposing situations through his work. He subverts and disturbs what is familiar, forcing each of us to look at and interrogate reality. The artist knowingly turns our daily experiences and knowledge on their heads in order to interact with our imaginations.

Abraham Poincheval

Vue d'exposition, Inside, Palais de Tokyo (2014), Abraham POINCHEVAL. Crédit photo : André Morin

The inhabitable sculpture by Abraham Poincheval (born in 1972, lives and works in Marseille) was created in collaboration with the Gassendi Museum (Dign-les-Bains) so that the artist could live in it autonomously, cut off from the outside world.
During the thirteen days of his performance at the musée de la Chasse et de la Nature (Paris), like Jonas in the whale’s stomach, the artist lived inside this life-sized bear sculpture, became one with the bear’s body and fed like a bear. This experience of extreme solitude and retreat from the world was filmed and transmitted via video.
Abraham Poincheval explores the world by pushing back his physical and mental limits. The artist develops many approaches such as confinement, the absence of communication and living in self-sufficiency, spending for example a week in a hole dug into the floor of a gallery and covered by a one-ton stone (Galerie HO, Marseille, 2012). In 2013, he returned again to underground isolation and analyzed the total loss of visual and temporal markers when he spent five days with students in a pitch-black cave.