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Yann Sérandour, Les eaux Courantes (Running Waters)

Solo exhibition
Parc Saint-Léger, Pougues-les-Eaux
eb 23 to May 19, 2019

Solo show curated by Catherine Pavlovic.

Les eaux courantes (Running Waters) presents, for the first time, a major ensemble of the work Yann Sérandour has produced over the last decade. This show was not conceived as a moment to look back. Rather, it reveals a playful process of appropriation, a creative exercise in style in ever-new iterations.

Sérandour works somewhat like an historian whose research seeks to give meaning to a string of facts, with the library serving as its emergent horizon. He explores the library by means of extraction and insertion, as well as slipping into the margins and interstices to work out his own stories there. His methods of investigation and the resulting art objects demonstrate his taste for research, but above all they are an excuse for exploring the reflexive nature of art and its transmission.

Sérandour’s approach involves the appropriation of art made by historical figures associated with Conceptual Art. That movement, emerging in the 1960s, redefined the artist as the producer of an idea rather than a finished object. Further, he takes responsibility for the distribution of his work and the attendant commentaries in the magazines and editions he publishes, while interrogating the museum and other exhibition sites. Rooted in that historic current, Sérandour revisited Brian O’Doherty’s iconic essay “Inside the White Cube” to make two editions. One, handled in a somewhat tautological fashion, Inside the White Cube (Expanded Edition), 2008, consists of a
white slipcase containing the number of copies of the original book necessary to reproduce the square format of the text’s first expanded edition. The other, Inside the White Cube. Édition fantôme, 2009, uses the French translation of the essay, entitled “White Cube. L’espace de la galerie et son idéologie,” as a palimpsest. The book’s original pages are overprinted with Sérandour’s works and commentaries on them, thus combining two different temporalities. This kind of resituating existing documents in a new configuration also characterizes Bibliographie (2011), a piece that uses books about the work of François Morellet to construct a continuous line connecting all of them together.

Framing and Being Framed (2011), a half-title page of a 1975 catalog by Hans Haacke, works in the same way, through displacement. Its place in the exhibition turns it into a wall text about his exploration of art history, especially its fringes. This piece introduces us to Sérandour’s interest in cynology, the study of dogs, including their grouping into breeds according to the book’s official standards and the ways those breeds are produced and maintained. He used this approach to make the series “Beepie’s Friends,” 2017, paintings based on a 1990s book about the different canine breeds, each done in the manual’s stipulated ideal dimensions for the pictured animal. This work is emblematic of Sérandour’s attachment to precise sources, but it is also about the idea of domestication and the constraints involved in the transmission of knowledge. That idea makes another appearance in his most recent work about the common reed. While his artworks are always either made for a specific occasion or the product of a particular field of research, they are not so much simple displacements as elements submitted to precise display procedures that generate new constellations. All of the works in this show are the result of the application of these operating modes — extraction, insertion and restaging—to produce new relations and narratives.

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