Born in 1973, Julien Bismuth lives and works in New York. He navigates between different realms and modes of communication, from the linguistic to the visual, from objects and images to performances and videos. For his current exhibition at the Galerie Georges-Philippe and Natalie Vallois, he has produced a series of works that flirt with the viewer’s urge to interpret and classify them, predominantly by means of a renewed engagement with images, both still and moving.
The show shares its title with the video Perroquet (Parrot), in which an actress is filmed watching a film. She reacts in a manner both nuanced and expressive to the movie that only she is able to see, while her face reflects its vivid colors. Like the videos currently on view at the Ferme du Buisson, this piece progresses by means of a continuous variation, marked by incremental shifts of color and facial expression.
The series titled Untitled (Spuma) is the continuation of Julien Bismuth’s previous series of works on paper. Like them, this series is the result of a deliberately confined experimentation (in this case, overpainting a series of images from the same book with white paint). The individual pieces each encapsulate a singular interplay between the congealed gestures of the artist and the frozen figures of the underlying image.
A second series of works consists of ten silkscreens and their prints of clouds, smoke, and haze; all of whom share the same ten-word long title (I cannot see what I do not want to know). The images they contain are citations or fragments of found images that have been cropped and reprinted. To cite is to isolate a fragment, and to hold the fragment up to the light of its isolation. By abstracting these images from their context and signification, they are transformed into enigmatic scenes, open to interpretation, like the clouds contained within their frames. Each work consists of a screen that can be used to print the image it contains on a wall, though only once at any given time.
The other works in the show , Repli (Reply), Wall-off, Recoin, Schema) are intended to be enigmatic and unexplained with regards to their meaning, cause, or origin. Each object reads solely against its title, its dimensions, and its materials. They are objects for rather than objects of interpretation, signification, metaphor, association. These pieces will be accompanied this coming September by a publication, containing a series of texts that are being written for them, as well as for a related set of sculptural works also on view at the Ferme du Buisson. These texts are not designed to explain or interpret the objects. They are intended instead to act as their translation into the space of language, as well as to accompany them from a distance, like an echo or a rumor.
This relationship between text and object is emblematic of the exhibition as a whole. Rather than steer the interpretation of his works, Julien Bismuth has also chosen to “accompany them from a distance,” and thus give the viewer the possibility of tracing his own itineraries and inscribing his own exegeses within them.