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La Criée centre for contemporary art opens final exhibition of the cycle on the idea of narrative
Daphne Oram playing the Oramics, mid 1960's. Courtesy Oram Trust and Goldsmiths University of London.

RENNES .- While I was also listening to David, Eleanor, Mariana, Genk, David, Jean, Mark, Daphne, Pierre, Shima, Simon, Zin, Christian and Virginie is the final exhibition of the cycle on the idea of narrative at La Criée centre for contemporary art.

This is the B-side – the slightly distorting mirror – of the first exhibition in the series, which presented practically the same artists, the only exceptions here being Daphne Oram, successor to Delia Derbyshire, and Franco-New York artist Christian Xatrec, a close friend of Jean Dupuy.

Things have happened to the works making up that first exhibition: things that have sometimes transformed them, sometimes projected them into the past, the future and even into the clouds, but have in all cases added to their depth.

Some of the works, for example, have simply been turned around, making visible the side usually hidden: after the picture sides of Eleanor Antin’s postcards we now discover their backs and in some instances the names of their addressees.

Also including various documents and archival items, most of them never shown before, the exhibition raises the question of the artwork’s survival via the document, the trace and its marginal aspects as well – which, after all, maybe also constitute the work. After listening to Delia Derbyshire, we discover compositions, scores, projects, etc., of another woman pioneer of electronic music Daphne Oram ; and after the presentation of a group of works by Jean Dupuy based on his memories of the performances he organised and took part in the New York of the 1980s, we discover the posters he designed for those performances: looking back and forward… From David Antin, we discover the archives of the project of Skypoems: two poems written in the sky by advertising smoke planes, each verse was written over a distance of about a kilometer and a half. As for David Horvitz, after having questioned the connivance between the water of the clouds and that of the taps, he gathers here a certain number of indices testifying to the artistic potential of the ocean.

This final exhibition also continues the encounters between individual destinies in art and history terms. After presenting her cut-up museum catalogues, Mariana Castillo Deball recounts here, via the history of a(nother) book the difficult cultural transition – or abduction – effected between colonisers and colonised; and Simon Starling, ten years after that first canoe adventure in search of the okapi, has come up with a brand new video recounting an attempt to cross the Dead Sea from Israel to Jordan.

Some of the artists add a new chapter to stories begun last winter: rereading a play by Ray Bradbury, Virginie Yassef presents us with its initial characters and dialogue, after leaving us to guess at the setting; Zin Taylor tells us what’s happened over the last year to the figures and shapes he had originally drawn on the walls; and gerlach en koop offers new Pillow Objects whose shapes and meanings follow on from the one shown at La Criée last winter; and we follow Shimabuku with jubilation in the continuation of his adventures with the octopuses.

Last but not least, where Mark Geffriaud, Christian Xatrec and Pierre Paulin are concerned, the question is repeated, but remains open: can a work of art live on solely via the narratives spun around it? As a way of both reinforcing and challenging the elements of repetitiousness in the works themselves, they are shown in the same places – or almost – as in the first exhibition.

With «While I was also listening [...]» we invite viewers to share with us the strange, incisive dream of an exhibition intended never to be quite the same and never to be quite different.

Which leads us to wonder: what varies from one exhibition, narrative or work to another? Is the work of art a variation, a translation, a transmission or a stance?

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