Curatorship: Sébastien Martins
The title of the exhibition, 2024, evokes a future too close to be utopian. The temporal constriction reduces the field of possibilities and announces a future that is already set. It suggests the workings of an urbanism imposing transformation, competition, reorganization and speculation that crystallize around the event of the Olympic Games.
Ethan Assouline sketches through his practice of sculpture, publishing, writing and drawing, a critical relationship to the city, in its landscape, economic and political dimensions. He composes his sculptural works from objects assembled from various sources, evoking office automation, community furniture, domestic decorative forms of a relative joviality, vague attempts to tend towards design. The narrow color range - slightly faded white, light gray and silver, transparency and a bit of black - gives a generic and dry appearance.
The artist takes up the trust in technological and architectural modernity, to reverse it, through the smooth, almost disembodied industrial lines, emblematic of the early 2000s, carrying the promise of a bright future. He reinforces these characteristics by passing over certain elements an immaculate white acting as a veil - assumed as such - marker of homogeneity and harmony. This whiteness is set to precisely disappoint expectations, revealing its precariousness through flaking, dirt, giving an air prematurely dated: “a white that lies, violent … / Ironic white, self-destructive, already dirty and in ruins. ” The early obsolescence and obsolescence appear as the reverse side of the promise, a sign announcing the abandonment, and thus reveal the violence.
The objects that Ethan Assouline collects also testify to this obsolescence and to a certain absurdity of everyday life. They are the waste products of capitalism and the consumerist industry, cheap decorative accessories which, according to the artist, give the illusion that life can be beautiful and luxurious, by adorning itself with fantasy. Integrated into the assemblages in such a way as to be taken out of their state of stranded mass products, the objects become elements for composing spaces - domestic compartments, reduced worlds, miniature cities - where games of domination and power are replayed on a more controllable scale without the artist incorporating any resolution.
These spaces are composed with a precarious balance and “uneasy uncertainty,” at once fortified in an attempt to turn the tables, and made vulnerable to deviate from a value system. In his compositional process, Ethan Assouline puts his assemblages to the test of fragility in order to test their capacity to resist, to be seen and heard, to “try to make things stand / Just a little longer / While others collapse.
His practice underlines the violence and tensions of the contemporary city, which are more prevalent in its peripheries. “There is this gray place with written words: living together, difference, well-being, employment, identity, future, quality, happiness, cohesion … “. Terms that compose according to the artist “a kind of horrible poetry of everyday life, created by those who work against the values they disseminate, bits of illusions, of the little we have to offer, the emptiness of today’s language, infused by advertising, the world of work, official politics, money and administration, which tend to neutralize and positivize everything.” These great ideas diverted compose a simulacrum of idealized society placed on an arid reality - to which the veil that the artist puts on these objects echoes. Through them, inverse concepts such as exclusion, speculation, gentrification, etc., shine through.
The title of the exhibition, 2024, evokes a very close future, too close to allow for open projection, and more like a dated anticipation that has not been accomplished. The temporal constriction reduces the field of possibilities and announces a future that is already set up, the implementation of which is palpable. 2024 implicitly evokes the Olympic Games that will be held in France. Ethan Assouline is interested in the off-screen, namely the preparations implemented on its host territories, imposing transformations and reorganizations, competition and adaptation, which constitute the cogs of such a machine.
The position that Ethan Assouline adopts with regard to the social and political contexts that he questions is a strategy mixing withdrawal and infiltration, action and observation, with the intention in particular to constitute a new word for the city and spaces to think autonomy. It diverts and turns over the concepts, values and symbols to address them in return, by putting forward their acerbic character; all at the same time by attaching them of the affect. Because in spite of their roughness, which is the reflection of the context which surrounds us, the works of the artist let show a sensitivity and a vulnerability; they are delivered to the precariousness of their materials, to the fragility of the assembly, but testify nevertheless to a form of delicacy by the attention and the care which are given to them. Ethan Assouline thus turns the idea of decorative fantasy as an illusion, by reintegrating the intimate. His compositions function as mental spaces of retreat, refuges, and suggest the idea of withdrawing. Of “disappear”, used in a recurring way as a title - in particular of his review -, the artist proposes the following definition: “to disappear, it is to resist to be one day quiet”.
Curator of the exhibition and head of the production at Crédac
Ethan Assouline was born in 1994, he lives in Paris and works in Saint-Denis. He practices mainly sculpture and also explores drawing, writing and publishing. He publishes a magazine, entitled Disparaitre, in which he develops a reflection on the modern city and its language through his drawings and texts. He is associated with various collective projects, such as the magazine Show and the structures of diffusion, production and exhibition Massage Production and Treize. He has exhibited his work at Zabriskie Point (Geneva), Macao (Milan), Bonington Gallery (Notthingham), and has participated in group shows at Crédac (Ivry-sur-Seine), Plateau-Frac Ile de France (Paris), and BQ Gallery (Berlin).