Douglas Coupland's 1991 novel Generation X: Tales for an Accelerated Culture paints the portrait of a generation of nomads, born between 1965 and 1977. These are the Baby Busts, the kidults, as opposed to the Baby Boomers. "X" refers to the anonymity of this generation of individuals whose anthem is Nirvana's Smells Like Teen Spirit and whose life was marked by the advent of the Internet, the end of history and militancy, and the transition from the reproductive age to that of "unlimited" access.
This generation is also the first to revive, in art, remembered stories of pioneers and explorers, disincarnated toons, images of man's first steps on the Moon and Armstrong's distorted voice. Together they define new ways of relating to the world; new forms of experimentation, transgression and re-appropriation which go against earlier (counter-) revolutions.
Over recent years, the generation question has been repeatedly raised on a global scale. Various publications, exhibitions and debates try to pinpoint the critical moment when informal networks of artists, independent curators, galleries, art centres, schools and magazines were formed. These situations laid the foundation for a new exhibition vocabulary, a new way of making art and being contemporary.
1984-1999 tackles a decade that defies definition and disaffirms past attempts to do so. Beyond decennial retrospectives and compilations, it is a biographical space composed of objects, sounds, voices, images, reflections and sensations. Imagined by Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster, a major international artist, the exhibition scape presents itself as an intermediate space, between city and nature, inside and outside, day and night.
The exhibition does not attempt to recreate an era nor to sanctify an ideal and lost age, but seeks instead to bring up to date the forms and procedures which anticipated today's artistic creation. Working from a survey of some of the 1990s' central figures (artist Liam Gillick, curator Hans Ulrich Obrist, writer Michel Houellebecq, filmmaker David Lynch…), its purpose is to collect objects and sources which survived and inspired the decade, and to create new, non-hierarchical arrangements between art, literature, film, music, architecture and design.
The exhibition is the mirror-image of the spirit of the 1990s, defined by François Cusset as "a world where 'young people' - those at least who reached adolescence in the mid-1980s – faced with an abysmal critical void had to reinvent a means of desertion and inner exile, and make this void in some way inhabitable by shaping counter-worlds and more or less temporary autonomies – a dissolved world where being sad becomes a stand-in connection with the world and is even, as one of them says, 'the only way not to be completely unhappy'."
A work edited by François Cusset (intellectual historian and lecturer in American Civilisation at Nanterre University) accompanies the exhibition.
Stéphanie Moisdon, art critic and independent curator
Exhibition design based on an artistic project by Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster
Keep travelling through the 1990’s visiting the following exhibitions:
Smells like teen spirit
19 June - 21 September 2014
an echo to 1984-1999. The Decade.
From alternative rock to contemporary art, Smells Like teen spirit presents art works by Rirkrit Tiravanija, Matthew McCaslin, Christian Marclay, Philippe Parreno, Fabrice Gygi, Wendelien van Oldenborgh, Harry Sachs and Franz Höfner.
MONTCLAIR ART MUSEUM, USA
Come As You Are: Art of the 1990s
8 February 2015 – 17 May 2015
Come As You Are: Art of the 1990s is first major American museum survey to historicize the art of this pivotal decade.
MUSEO REINA SOFIA, MADRID
Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster. Splendide Hotel
13 March – 19 October 2014
In the exhibition SPLENDIDE HOTEL, devised for the Palacio de Cristal, Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster, puts forward a journey that transports the viewer into spaces and times, where the imaginary is mixed with reality and where literature maps out the guidelines to follow for inhabiting this oneiric world, taking the artwork beyond the meaning of its objects.
LE MAGASIN, GRENOBLE
De 199C à 199D
6 June 2014 – 7 September 2014
The exhibition is the second part of a collaborative process started between the artist and students of the Center for Curatorial Studies du Bard College (New York) in 2012. For le MAGASIN, an entirely new exhibition was produced, that re-examines several key-works by this artist of the 90’s in close collaboration with the students of l’École du MAGASIN.
With the support of Fundación Almine y Bernard Ruiz-Picasso para el Arte
In media partnership with
Aided by Vranken-Pommery Monopole