saturday 29 april – start 7.30pm>
Olivier Kosta-Thèfaine (F)
Squatter, regarder le ciel
activity, première, production Xing/Live Arts Week
With Squatter, regarder le ciel Olivier Kosta-Thèfaine installs himself at Ex GAM for some days. Here he carries out his activity, half-hidden on top of some scaffolding, visible only within a shred of time that could be of infinite length. The surface-area that he must contend with is enormous. With a technique that has been expertly honed over the course of years, Kosta-Thèfaine uses the chromatic effects produced by the flames of a cigarette lighter to compose pointillist figures on the ceiling. If we are deprived of this preliminary information, these markings might remind us of a byzantine or Moorish decorative tradition, perhaps imported by new migrants to the banlieue; but this isn’t what the piece is about. The vastness of space to be filled – an entire sky – corresponds to the expansive length of time of an unnecessary labour. Bored inhabitants squat vast peripheral buildings, concrete corridors and stairwells. These are the places of a possible encounter between vandalism and poetry.
presented with the support of Institut français Italia
Olivier Kosta-Théfaine, French artist, considers himself to be a ‘landscape painter’. In his work, vandalism is tinged with classicism, and the margins become central. Kosta-Théfaine dissects the city at its edges, with its bad reputations and urban legends. He paints the abstract details of a street, observes the weeds, burns ceilings with a lighter, and breaks glass bottles so as to produce French-style gardens or to create football fan scarves, in homage to the banlieues, while targeting the tension that exists between the desire to flee them and the need to defend them body and soul. In his desire to rehabilitate the uninteresting or the connoted, the artist repositions the often-inextricable power relations of the city within the realm of poetry. Considering himself a pure product of the city, Kosta-Théfaine plays with clichés. In his work for the Palais de Tokyo, for example, where he took charge of three cupolas, on which he composed a burnt sky with a lighter – a technique he takes from the entrances to council housing blocks, where young kids burn time by writing in fire on the ceilings – thus mingling influences of classic frescoes from Italian palazzos with the traditions of everyday cheap vandalism. A self-taught artist, Kosta-Théfaine has exhibited at the Palais de Tokyo (2016), Abbaye de Maubuisson (2012) and Fondation Cartier (2009), and some of his works are part of the Fonds Départemental d’Art Contemporain Essonne (2013) and Paris Fonds Municipal d’Art Contemporain (2011) collections.