Letterism, Letterist International, Second Letterist International, Movement for an Imaginist Bauhaus, Experimental Laboratory of Alba, London Psychogeographical Association, Situationist International, Situationist Times, SPUR
The exhibition has been organized by a curatorial committee including John Armleder, Gérard Berreby, Paul Bernard, Lionel Bovier, Alexandra Catana Tucknott, Julien Fronsacq and Mai-Thu Perret, and placed under Paul Bernard’s general curatorship. It has also benefitted from the scholarly advice of Luca Bochicchio, Nina Zimmer, Lucas Haberkorn, Jacopo Galimberti, Liliana Dematteis, Natalie Seroussi, Lionel Spiess, Jacqueline de Jong, Patrick Marcolini, Barbara Wolman, Swana Pilhatsch, Arno Morenz, and Ursula Lehman Brockaus
This exhibition is supported by the Fondation Jan Michalski pour l’écriture et la littérature.
Alex Bag, Gretchen Bender, Joseph Beuys, Jennifer Bolande, Marcel Broodthaers, Maurizio Cattelan, Cosey Fanni Tutti, Sylvie Fleury, Nicolas Garait-Leavenworth, General Idea, Gilbert & George, Rodney Graham, Gary Gross, Robert Heinecken, Pierre Huyghe, IFP, Alex Israel, Alain Jacquet, Larry Johnson, Mike Kelley & Paul McCarthy, Silvia Kolbowski, Jeff Koons, Mark Leckey, Allan McCollum, Adam McEwen, John Miller, Philippe Parreno, Donna-Lee Philips, Richard Prince, Pruitt & Early, David Robbins, Martha Rosler, Julia Scher, Cindy Sherman, Michael Smith, Elaine Sturtevant, Jacques Toulorge (readymades belong to everyone®), Andy Warhol, John Waters, Christopher Williams
Organized by Paul Bernard et and Lionel Bovier
Acquisitions, donations, and bequests 2016–2017
Organized by Lionel Bovier and Sophie Costes
This spring, MAMCO has decided to turn back to Letterism and the Situationist International, two artistic movements from Paris which occupied a very special place on the political horizon of May 1968. The exhibition has been organized by a group and its method is to follow “the passage of a few people over quite a short period of time,” rather than enter into the genealogical quarrels that constantly agitated these two artistic groups.
The title refers to an unfulfilled project for a Situationist exhibition at the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam in 1960, and shows up one of the questions that are raised by any presentation of these avant-garde movements: how to exhibit in a museum people who were systematically opposed to cultural institutions? Going further than a sabotaging of art through an unconventional register of forms and techniques, it was art as distinct social territory, governed by institutions, and determined by the market economy, that was in these movements’ crosshairs.
The Imaginist Bauhaus, as its name makes clear, was born from a radical theoretical opposition to the school headed by Max Bill; meanwhile the Letterist International was trying to wipe out the Surrealist heritage, in particular as embodied by André Breton; their merger as the Situationist International led to a series of events aimed at art criticism (Piet de Groof’s action with Debord and Wyckaert against the general assembly of the AICA in Brussels), art market galleries (Jorn’s and Gallizio’s shows organized at the same time, on the same evening in the Paris galleries René Drouin and Rive Gauche) or the museum as an institution (as in the aborted project at the Stedelijk Museum for which they demanded the “guarantee of non-submission to a museum viewpoint”). This systematic opposition was played out on every cultural front, including UNESCO, which the SI intended to take over… Gradually, artistic approaches became subordinated to a revolutionary political combat. The exhibition Destruction of RSG 6 in a little gallery in Odense, in Denmark, in 1963, was the only one that the Situationists agreed to put on and, in this respect, was exemplary: from now on, it would be necessary to transcend art and live out the philosophy that was expressed in Debord’s painted directives. As of the 1960s, the SI excluded more and more artists before proclaiming, in a resolution, that any work of art produced by a Situationist was “anti-Situationist”! “From being the most political of artistic movements”, as Laurent Chollet put it, “the SI became the most artistic of political movements.”
It is these contradictions and attacks made against art that the exhibition at MAMCO aims to retrace through the evocation of a series of historical events. Furthermore, the exhibition’s very title focuses on one motif that runs through the movement’s productions, be they Guy Debord’s films, SPUR’s schemas, or Ralph Rumney’s paintings: as both a pre-established journey, and a site allowing for all kinds of encounters, the labyrinth can be seen as one of the finest metaphors for the Situationist dérive, that “psychogeographic” experience of the urban territory, which remains the practice that is most often associated with the movement. Finally, in this universe, the exhibition particularly focuses on a few figures who did not want to give up on art; so it is that works by Giuseppe Pinot-Gallizio, Ralph Rumney, Asger Jorn, Gil Wolman and Jacqueline de Jong, all thrown out of the SI (apart from Jorn, who left of his own accord), have been given pride of place in the exhibition.
At the same time, a project based on the writings of the American artist David Robbins, about the relationship between art and the notion of entertainment since Pop art, is allowing us to adopt a different view of the collection of works from the 1980s at the museum. The exhibition has been built up around the clear inversion between the period that runs from the 1960s to the 1990s, and the one that separates us from the start of the 21st century: the desire of artists to act in the cultural industry and circuits of entertainment, has now been replaced (or else referred back to its warped reflection) by celebrities in the cinema or music industry who use artistic formats. Based on this observation of substitution, the exhibition intends to unite the states of the relationship between art and entertainment, ranging from a criticism of the spectacular to the cultural horizon of celebrity, while stripping down their various mechanisms and tools.
Finally, the fact of bringing together on a floor of the museum works that have recently been acquired, bequeathed, or given to MAMCO, attests to the policy of developing the collections that was initiated in 2016. The various exhibitions transform and enrich the collection, seen as the museum’s alpha and omega, and the place where its projects are elaborated. The presence of several works from the collections of the FMAC and the FCAC also pay witness to the fact that there is a desire to concert with other structures devoted to contemporary art in Geneva. The paradox of the contemporary is that inevitably it is the future of history: thus, MAMCO’s collection, constituted only thanks to private funding, but year by year made a part of our public heritage, can be seen as a crucible for tomorrow’s historians and a resource for future exhibitions devoted to recent history.
MAMCO’s fourth floor gathers artists’ spaces, two artworks from the museum’s collection, and two new spaces dedicated to archives.
Claude Rutault’s Inventaire gathers the entirety of his definitions/methods. This ensemble, first presented at MAMCO in 1994 is now re-installed following the artist’s wish, and still displays an outside wall allowing for the update of any of the works.
Sarkis’ L’Atelier depuis 19380 is the only environment which still bears witness to the wooden “cabins” that characterized the museum when it first opened. The artist considers this space as a “travel studio” which, once or twice a year, he occupies to resume his work. Surrounding the studio the presentation of other projects from the artist of which the museum keeps an important number in its collection.
These two historical artists’ spaces adjoin rooms dedicated to the Ecart Archives and the Concrete Poetry Cabinet.
The post-Fluxus activities of the Ecart group have found a location for their re-emergence in Geneva, thanks to the HEAD Geneva, the Print Room of the Musée d’Art et d’Histoire, and the complicity of John Armleder. They are exhibited through a new operatory mode which allows at once to resume the archives’ inventory work and to update projects from the 1970s. This is the case, for instance, with a Dick Higgins’ score, successively interpreted by the Ecart Group, and today by the museum.
Finally, the Cabinet de poésie concrète (Concrete Poetry Cabinet) is dedicated to an artistic and literary movement which widespreads, since the 1950s, from Europe to South America as well as in Asia. The Cabinet is made of 30’000 artworks and documents brought together by Zona Achives, which under the auspices of Maurizio Nannucci and Gabriele Detterer, is one of the biggest private collection in Europe.
This gathering of artists’ spaces on the fourth floor of the museum is intended both to offer a representation of the singularity of the MAMCO collections—through the emphasis on protocol, score and collaboration with the artist as nodal points of the collection’s politics—, and to allow ephemeral, performative and living forms to find a place in its midst. This articulation between archives, collections and performative formats is also a new museographic proposal.
Sophie Costes worked on the re-deployment of Sarkis’ studio and, with artist Emilie Parendeau, of Rutault’s inventory; Paul Bernard was in charge of the organization of the Concrete Poetry Cabinet; and the Ecart display was organized by Lionel Bovier and David Lemaire.
Fall 2017, MAMCO is organizing the first European retrospective to William Leavitt (born in 1941, Washington, USA), an historic figure of the Los Angeles art scene. Deployed on the entirety of the first floor, this exhibition brings together pieces ranging between 1970 until now. Through his installations, drawings, and paintings, play and sound performances, Leavitt re-examines the production of the Western imaginary, as imposed, since the end of WWII, by the “Hollywood factory.” Through a selection of parts of stage sets, the isolation and recombination of fragments coming from everyday culture, which often conceals a conservative social order and politics, the artist turns these representations inside out: he makes us see them as conceptual frameworks in which stories (fictional ones or from our own lives) can be set.
This show, organized by Lionel Bovier and Julien Fronsacq, is thus an opportunity to go back over several issues in art history, whether it be the 1970s movement of “Narrative Art” or the fictional dimension present in the practice of General Idea, whose exhibition is extended until the beginning of February. Narration is also at the heart of a project devoted to fictional artists by David Lemaire, and the ensemble of works by Adrian Piper and Martha Rosler, respectively brought together by Elise Lammer and Sophie Costes.
This sequence is the third phase of a method of investigation into the art of the past decades, inaugurated by Zeitgeist in spring, and then continued with the series of exhibitions organized around the retrospective of Kelley Walker last summer. In this way, MAMCO has been offering, via a system of nested presentations, a prismatic reading of the artistic movements and debates that have traversed our era. This singular museographical proposition, the result of the collective work of the curators of the MAMCO and its associated curators, is itself set in the heritage of the “global exhibition” concept, which has been prevalent in the museum ever since its opening in the 1990s.
William Leavitt’s exhibition is supported by the Fondation du Jubilé de la Mobilière Suisse Société Coopérative.
This summer, the MAMCO is dedicating a major exhibition to American artist Kelley Walker (b. 1969, Columbus, Georgia), in the 1,000 m² of the museum’s first floor. In his work, Kelley Walker uses techniques found in Pop art (such as collage, photography, silkscreen printing) as well as digital tools, to question the current circulation and consumption of images. The project, organized by Fabrice Stroun and Lionel Bovier, strives to summarize one of the most discussed practice today through a retrospective exhibition. His main series are included, in particular the “Black Star Press,” which superimpose silkscreen printed images, previously used by Warhol, to layers of chocolate; the “Rorschach,” fragmented mirrors and homage to the test designed by the famous Swiss psychologist; the “Brick paintings,” mixing brick patterns with information from daily and specialized media; as well as more recent research on the passage from image to object.
This exhibition, echoing Wade Guyton’s one in 2016, is an opportunity to address issues concerning the image and its corporeality in recent art history. “Swiss Pop,” based on a proposal by Samuel Gross, thus opens the third floor and serves as an introduction to one of the first moments in Postwar era of the image’s questioning, both in terms of its auratic unicity and its (mostly industrial) mode of fabrication.
An exhibition of images and photographic projects by Canadian collective General Idea prolong, on the same floor, a reflection on the mediatic and physical versatility of the image within the McLuhanesque society taking shape after the Second World War.
Finally, the addition of works by Cady Noland, Laurie Parsons, and Felix Gonzalez-Torres on the second floor, completes an overview of American practices linked to the “Pictures Generation,” to appropriation, and to politics of representation (Jenny Holzer, Jack Goldstein, Sherrie Levine). It ends a cycle of exhibitions organized by Lionel Bovier aiming at providing an overview of the main stakes shared by a generation of artists that one could call the “last iconologists”: in short, artists for whom the image still possesses weight, presence, and semantic strength—all features that the growing digitalization of the 1990s progressively erased to the benefit, in the 2000s, of an understanding of the image as a “liquid skin,” able to mutate indefinitely, and to be applied on any support.
The Kelley Walker exhibition is supported by Henri Harsch HH SA.
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The Rue des Vieux-Grenadiers is perpendicular to the Avenue du Mail along the Plaine de Plainpalais. The entrance to the museum is situated in the courtyard situated between the rue des Vieux-Grenadiers and the rue Gourgas.
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Guided tours are free of charge for all students of Public schools in the Canton of Geneva, as well as visitors from any public organization working in the fields of social, medical, cultural and education welfare based in the Canton of Geneva.
MAMCO opened in 1994 thanks to the perseverance of AMAM (Association pour un musée d’art moderne, now Amis du MAMCO) and the generosity of 8 patrons, who created the FONDATION MAMCO. Pooling together the support of its Founders and, later, its Co-founders, the foundation was the main source of funding and the sole governing body of the museum up until 2005, when it joined forces with the State and City of Geneva to create a public foundation, known as FONDAMCO.
Philippe Bertherat, President
Elvita Alvarez, Vice President
Nadia Keckeis, Vice President
Philippe Bertherat, President
Pierre de Labouchere, Vice President
Amis du MAMCO — represented by Patrick Fuchs
Afshan Almassi Sturdza
Jean Marc Annicchiarico
Verena and Rémy Best
Zaza and Philippe Jabre
Christina de Labouchere*
Jean-Léonard de Meuron*
Patricia and Jean-Pierre Michaux
Marine and Claude Robert
Jean-Michel Aaron and Anne-Shelton Aaron* (1999–2011)
Janet and Maurice Dwek (2007–2009)
Céline and Charles Fribourg (2000–2001)
Aline and Christian Gauduel (2011–2015)
Nicole Ghez de Castelnuovo* (2005–2012)
Bénédict Hentsch* (1998–2008)
Famille Latsis (1994–2007)
Renée L’Huillier (1998–2012)
André Marchandise (2009–2011)
Catherine Orci-Darier (2011–2014)
Edmond and Nadine de Rothschild* (1994–1995)
Lionel Bovier, Directeur
direction [AT] mamco.ch
Julien Fronsacq, Conservateur en chef
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Françoise Ninghetto, Conservatrice honoraire
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Valérie Mallet, Secrétaire générale
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Sophie Costes, Conservatrice, en charge de la gestion des collections
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Paul Bernard, Conservateur
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Thierry Davila, Conservateur, en charge des publications et de la recherche
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Fabrice Stroun, Commissaire associé
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Garrett Landolt, Relations extérieures et recherche de fonds
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Julien Gremaud, Responsable de la communication digitale
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Viviane Reybier, Responsable de la communication institutionnelle
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Chloë Gouédard, Documentation et diffusion des publications
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Alice Malinge, Responsable du Bureau des transmissions
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Julie Cudet, Adjointe au Bureau des transmissions
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Cyrille Maillot, Responsable de la régie technique
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Filipe Dos Santos, Régisseur
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Yann Abrecht, Responsable du service d’accueil
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Mathilde Acevedo, Adjointe au service d'accueil
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Fabio Gaffo, Adjoint au service d’accueil
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Antonio Magalhes, Responsable au service de maintenance et sécurité
Maria de Fatima Braganca, Adjointe au service de maintenance
Joana Gomes Da Silva, Adjointe au service de maintenance
Guides conférenciers : Gabrielle Boder, Alan Bogana, Simon Derouin, Jean-Claude Haldi, Lara Netzer, Dominique Page, Francesco Russo
Guides volants : Josse Bailly, Benoît Billotte, Mathias Brügger, Sonia Chanel, Jonas Hermenjat, Anne Hildbrand, Léa Lo Cicero, Paul Paillet, Valérie Portmann
MAMCO is overseen by FONDAMCO, a public foundation which is made up of FONDATION MAMCO, the Canton, and City of Geneva. MAMCO would like to thank all of its partners, both public and private, and in particular its lead sponsors JTI and Fondation de Famille Sandoz, as well as Christie’s, Fondation de bienfaisance du Groupe Pictet, Fondation Coromandel, Fondation Lombard Odier, Fondation Valeria Rossi di Montelera, Loterie Romande, Mirabaud & Cie SA, Richemont, and Sotheby’s.
Exhibition Partner: Fondation Leenaards
Media Partner: Le Temps
Hotel Partners: Hôtel Tiffany, Le Richemond Genève
Partners: Belsol, Café des Bains, Chemiserie Centrale Genève, La Clé, Payot, ReproSolution, Transports Publics Genevois
Press releases and press kits can be downloaded here. Photographs can be viewed in the pictures catalog. For any high resolution pictures please fill in the form below.
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+41 22 320 61 22
Die Welt als Labyrinth
Art & Entertainment
- Press Kit
Timothée Calame, winner of the Prix Culturel Manor 2017
- Press Release
Une collection d'espaces
- Press Release
William Leavitt, Retrospective
General Idea, Photographs (1969-1982) - extension
Gordon Matta-Clark, Food
Adrian Piper, The Mythic Being
Martha Rosler, House Beautiful: Bringing the War Home
Allen Ruppersberg, The Never Ending Book
- Press Release
- Press Kit