Alexandre Singh Builds an Elaborate, Dramatic Set-Up for the Viewer at Sprueth Magers
The New York-based, UK-raised artist of French origin – Alexandre Singh, seems to know of no boundaries, not only when it comes to the frontiers of the world, but also with regards to artistic genres. In the following exhibition, titled The School for Objects Criticized, the artist will present supposedly banal objects from everyday life, by putting them on pedestals, which makes them resemble important, monumental sculptures. The installation is deliberately theatrically-lit, and it gives away the impression of elegance, which stands in contrast with the ordinariness of simple objects. However, the theatrical atmosphere is not just for show, as it contributes to the narrative which appears to be “performed” by these inanimate objects.
The narrators of Singh’s drama turn out to be its protagonists as well. As each object literally starts “speaking” to the audience, spotlight shifts from one pedestal to another. This way, the light explains which object is talking. A bottle of bleach, a toaster, two cassette recorders, an abstract sculpture, a stuffed skunk and a slinky toy – each have a personality, and they even have established relationships with each other. Their discussion covers a wide range of topics, reflecting on art, criticism, creation, mass production, God, life, sex and death; which are basically all common topics related to the contemporary thought. As their conversation goes on, the characters occasionally mention an art installation that they saw recently, by an artist named Alexandre Singh. The viewers become aware of what the protagonists aren’t – that they are actually talking about themselves.
The title of the show takes Molière’s one-act comedy La Critique de l’École des Femmes (1663) as a point of reference. The French dramatist made the play as an innovative response to the harsh criticism aimed at his previous work, L’Ecole des Femmes (1662). However, this is not the only theatrical work that Singh refers to. The witticism expressed through the narrative and the manner of speech recalls plays written by Oscar Wilde and Noel Coward, while the fact that the story takes place in New York, a city well familiar with hosting artistic events, reminds us of Woody Allen. The play is even reminiscent of American sitcoms in a way, thanks to the common jokes with sexual connotations.
Alexandre Singh brings Theater to an Exhibition Space
Singh’s work addresses contemporary society, and the state that it finds itself in, putting an emphasis on the art world in particular. This intent is performed in a humorous way, while simultaneously examining the significance of the narrative as such. The artist plays with the expectations of the audience, making seemingly absurd statements and connecting things which seem completely unrelated. Eventually, all of the things that seemed strange at first, turn out to be brilliantly sensible in the end. The installation, earlier versions of which were exhibited at the New Museum, New York, and Palais de Tokyo, Paris, will be on view from April 30th through June 25th 2016, and the opening reception is set for April 29th, from 6 PM at Sprueth Magers Gallery, Berlin.
Featured image: Alexandre Singh – The School for Objects Criticized, 2010 Installation view ‘Free’, New Museum, New York, 2010; Photography Benoit Pailley; Copyright Alexandre Singh; Courtesy Sprüth Magers.