The Institut d’Art Contemporain has taken no part in the recent (but anachronistic) debates about French art and its international status. Putting on Melik Ohanian’s exhibition seems to us, in the end, to be the only possible form of response.
Ohanian belongs to a generation of relevant artists who have already made their mark at the international level, and this exhibition proves that creativity is still possible, even if the art system, as a faithful reflection of the society that brought it into being, nowadays tends to favour spectacular effects and media hype at the expense of insistence on standards and exactitude.
It is also clear that one can be an artist from Villeurbanne – a long way from Paris – and still be recognised by international specialists with no links to any of the different networks. This means not holding back, but openly and actively proclaiming one’s ambitions.
And as regards what remains of the « Paris-Provinces » debate, it is up to the different regions of France to assert their creative potential on an equal footing with other European regions, and not to be concerned about any particular local or national stamp of approval.
For the Institut d’Art Contemporain to put its entire exhibition space at Ohanian’s disposal is an assertion of the creative continuity, whether French or international, that goes from Daniel Buren to Bernard Bazile, from Jeff Wall to Jordi Colomer. It is a restatement of the belief that the quality of an artistic approach must be the determining factor in any responsible programming policy.
Melik Ohanian’s is a demanding body of work whose openness to the major political questions of the day does not in any way preclude subjectivity or individual emotion. Nomadism, an appetite for the world and a sometimes unsettling sense of enquiry place this notation of the things of life, both visible and invisible, among the most intriguing forms of creative work to be seen at the present day.
Institut d’art contemporain [IAC]
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Tel. 04 78 03 47 00
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