Palais de Tokyo in Paris opens its third edition of the contemporary art triennial exhibition

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Palais de Tokyo in Paris opens its third edition of the contemporary art triennial exhibition
Exhibition view, “La Triennale, Intense Proximité”, Palais de Tokyo. Photo : André Morin.

PARIS.- Organized from April 20th to August 26th, 2012, the 3rd edition of the contemporary art triennial exhibition (former “La Force de l’Art”) moves into the open galleries of the Palais de Tokyo and seven institutions based in Paris and the surrounding region: Bétonsalon – Centre for art and research, Centre d’art contemporain d’Ivry – le Crédac, Galliera – musée de la Mode de la Ville de Paris, the Grand Palais, Instants Chavirés, Les Laboratoires d’Aubervilliers, and the Musée du Louvre. The collaboration between these institutions and the Palais de Tokyo creates a unique space of exchange and debate that makes possible for La Triennale to investigate, through the concept of Intense Proximity, what it means to be active as an artist working today, in the context of a globalized and diverse French art scene.

The French Ministry of Culture and Communication has invited Okwui Enwezor to serve as Artistic Director of La Triennale. The first major event marking the reopening of the Palais de Tokyo in 2012, La Triennale offers a large panorama of contemporary art at the intersection of the French art scene and global sites of production. Beginning within the interiors of the expanded and refurbished Palais de Tokyo, La Triennale is set in a series of overlapping cartographies that include small scale collaborations with emerging research, production, debate, exhibition, and performance spaces in Paris and the surrounding areas, whose scope of activities range from contemporary art to fashion, photography, music, performance, and academic research.

Artistic Director Enwezor proposes a broad, stimulating panorama of contemporary art. Aiming to explore potential areas of dialogue between various artistic disciplines and cultural scenes, he worked in close collaboration with a team of four associate curators, all passionately involved in the contemporary art scene on which they have their own personal take: Mélanie Bouteloup, Abdellah Karroum, Émilie Renard and Claire Staebler.

Inspired by the great work of early to mid 20th century French ethnography figures such as Claude Levi-Strauss, Marcel Mauss, Michel Leiris, and Marcel Griaule, La Triennale sets off on a journey to explore the nodes where art and ethnography converge in a renewal of fascination and estrangement. Fundamentally, the goal of the project is to shift from the idea of national space, as a constituted physical location, to a frontier space that constantly assumes new morphologies and new models of categorization (local, national, trans-national, geo-political, denational, pure, contaminated, etc.). Contemporary art has become a global phenomenon fostered by an ever growing network of relations overcoming distances. La Triennale therefore approaches the art of today through this wealth of connections.

“Most importantly, La Triennale wants to create a space of intellectual generosity.” (Okwui Enwezor, in conversation with Alfredo Jaar, École Nationale des Beaux-Arts, Paris, February 16th, 2011.)

Its title, Intense Proximity, points to those frictions, those heterogeneous tensions which set every human activity into motion. It also questions how an individual’s origins, intellectual education or life path have an impact on his/her situation in the larger context of a society in which the fault lines are increasingly uncharted. It also asks how La Triennale can be constituted within the debates that currently animate French society. Set against the background of a globalization brimming with both hopes and fears as well as the looming shadow of cultural isolationism, artists from different origins and different fields, but all somehow sharing the cultural references which contemporary art provides, addresses these tricky issues in their individual practice and alongside an expansive and robust guest program.

Okwui Enwezor is the director of Haus der Kunst, Munich. He has served as artistic director of documenta 11 in Kassel, and the biennials of Johannesburg, Sevilla, and Gwangju. He was Dean of Academic Affairs and Senior Vice President of the San Francisco Art Institute (2005-2009), and is widely acknowledged as a leading and influential figure on the contemporary art scene. As artistic director of La Triennale, Okwui Enwezor brings incisive critical insight, international awareness and extensive practical experience. After La Force de l’Art 01 and 02 at the Grand Palais in 2006 and 2009, the newly-reinvented La Triennale is one of the major art events of 2012.

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