Tania Mouraud. A retrospective

ExhibitionsTania Mouraud. A retrospective

From 4 March to 5 October 2015 - Galerie 2 - Centre Pompidou-Metz
From 27 June to 5 October 2015 - At Centre Pompidou-Metz and in partner venues in Metz

Locations : Galerie 2
Category : Exhibitions
Public : All ages

In 2015, Centre Pompidou-Metz is presenting, in partnership with 9 cultural sites in Metz, the first world-class exhibition entirely dedicated to French artist Tania Mouraud.

Kicking off on 4 March 2015 at Centre Pompidou-Metz, this show will encompass the city of Metz and its surroundings.It will be presented in its full scope and unprecedented form as of 27 June 2015.

Tania Mouraud is a unique artist in a class of her own. Her work has continued to evolve since she started creating in the 1960s, alternatively exploring multiple media including painting, installation, photography, performance, video and sound. One thing has remained constant, her works have always explored the relationship between art and social connections. With this in mind, she suggested integrating meditation rooms in standard homes (1968). She plastered her discontentment with society, with materialism taking precedent over man, on 4 x 3 meter billboards (1977). She has also reflected upon the aesthetic relationship between art and war, and through the act of writing, has examined the limits of perception by creating “words of form”* (1989). Since 1998, she has intertwined photography, video and sound with painting to examine the different aspects of history and the living.

* Elisabeth Lebovici, « Tania Mouraud, mots de formes », Libération, 19 November 1992


Covering 1100 sq. m. in Galerie 2 at Centre Pompidou-Metz, the exhibition takes a look at Tania Mouraud's career and artistic practice, from her 1968 autodafe, a profoundly symbolic act of destruction that ended her initial pictorial years, through to her initiation and mediation rooms of 1970s, up to her most recent works. The exhibition highlights her tenacious career, marked by her encounters with prominent contemporary artists, as well as by her personal life story.

The selection of over 70 works of art, some from the artist's personal collection, unveil the portrait of a socially engaged Tania Mouraud. Several historic works will be re-enacted in the scope of the exhibition as well.

Special focus is given to her meditation rooms as well as her photo-texts and works on language from the 1970s, all emblematic of Tania Mouraud's repertoire. The exhibition will be the first to fully explore the expanse of her initiation rooms. Her first meditation room, One more night (1970), initially realised for the eponymous exhibition by Jean Larcade at the Galerie Rive Droite in Paris, has been specially reconstructed for the show.

AD NAUSEAM, a monumental audiovisual installation presented at MAC/VAL – Musée d’art contemporain du Val-de-Marne from 20 September 2014 to 25 January 2015, is also being shown in an adapted version. This major work by Mouraud was co-produced with Ircam (Institut de Recherche et Coordination Acoustique/Musique) during her residency there in 2013-14.


This survey exhibition will expand into the city of Metz starting on 27June 2015, incorporating nine partner institutions and venues. Diverse aspects of Tania Mouraud's work will be presented, expanding on the exhibition at Centre Pompidou-Metz. This will take the visitor on an extended walk through the city to exhibition spaces at Arsenal – EPCC Metz en Scènes, Chapelle des Templiers, Église Saint-Pierre-aux-Nonnains, Faux Mouvement – Centre d’art contemporain, 49 Nord 6 Est - Frac Lorraine, Musée de la Cour d’Or – Metz Métropole, Toutouchic and Octave Cowbell art galleries as well as in front of the Galeries Lafayette department store. The artist's emblematic works will be revealed throughout the urban landscape and workshops with the artist herself offered to students at École Supérieure d’Art de Lorraine in the scope of a one-year collaboration.

Extended patronage by 49 Nord 6 Est - Frac Lorraine has intricately linked Mouraud's work and artistic career to the city of Metz since 1990s, starting in 1995 with the acquisition of City Performance N°1, an anthological work from the late 1970s. This work consists of 54 billboard signs with the word “NI” (literally neither/nor) printed in 4x3m and placed throughout the city of Paris. Further support from 49 Nord 6 Est - Frac Lorraine came in 2005 with the monumental project titled HCYS?.This large-scale work covers a blind wall at the Musée de la Cour d’Or. The City Performance N°1 poster campaign has been revived for one week throughout the city of Metz and its suburbs within the framework of Tania Mouraud. A retrospective.

An exhibition catalogue accompanies the exhibition. This reference work will include a significant amount of her writings and numerous unprecedented documents.

The École Supérieure d'Art de Lorraine has contributed to this retrospective.

Commissaires :
Hélène Guenin, Head of Programming, Centre Pompidou-Metz
Élodie Stroecken, Assistant Coordinator, Programming, Centre Pompidou-Metz, Centre Pompidou-Metz

Tania Mouraud was born on 2 January 1942 in Paris to Marcel Mouraud, lawyer, art collector and resistance fighter, and Martine Sersiron (pen name: Martine Chevrier), resistance fighter, journalist, advertising agent, business woman and writer. Her youth was marked by the death of her father, killed in the Vercors mountains in 1945. Her frequent visits to the Musée du Louvre considerably influenced her artistic career.

Schooled in England.

Tania Mouraud spent time in England on several occasions, then went to Düsseldorf, Germany. An important avant-garde group was active there including Joseph Beuys, artists from the Zero group (Heinz Mack, Otto Piene, Günther Uecker), Reiner Ruthenbeck, Gotthard Graubner, as well as other personalities like Alexander von Vegesack.
She discovered John Cage, Fluxus and jazz.

Returned to France and discovered abstract American painting, lyrical abstraction by Georges Mathieu, New Realism, GRAV (Groupe de recherches d’art visuel).
She discovered musique concrète, became enthralled with Varèse and Xenakis and captivated by the theory of colour and traditional painting techniques.

She burned all of her paintings in the courtyard of Villejuif hospital. This autodafe marked a radical break with painting which she had engaged in since 1962 under the influence of Georges Mathieu in particular, American artists from action painting and from the pop art movement. Mouraud started making her Initiation and Meditation Rooms at this time, a study of psychosensorial perception of space.

First meditation rooms:
Mouraud, galerie Rive Droite, Paris*
We used to know, Centro Apollinaire, Milan (Italie)*

First stay in India, six months.
Mouraud, galleria LP 220 (with musicians La Monte Young, Terry Riley, Pandit Prân Nath), Turin (Italy)*
Documents sur les espaces d’initiation et de méditation de Mouraud, galerie Ben doute de tout, Nice (France)
Mouraud : Projets, galerie Rive Droite, Paris

Tania Mouraud's interest in conceptual art defined itself in particular for Art & Language, and artists Terry Atkinson, Bernar Venet and Joseph Kosuth. She took classes in mathematics and logic at Université libre in Vincennes. In her first mural composed of linguistic statements, Wall is seen, Tania Mouraud encourages us to understand the viewer, the act of viewing and the object viewed, as one.

Tania Mouraud exhibition, galerie Françoise Lambert, Milan (Italy)
Mouraud : Focale ou la fonction de l’art (music: Jon Gibson), ARC 2, musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, Paris*

Tania Mouraud created her “mandalas”. Key encounter, through Bernar Venet, Ben and artists from Supports/Surfaces, with collector Vicky Rémy, who became a steadfast supporter.
Following a discussion with André Valensi, she toughened her stance by eliminating photography from her work and concentrating solely on text, its support and the space in which it is inscribed.
She read numerous books on typography and its history. She was fascinated by advertising and the Russian avant-garde.

She moved into the public space for the first time with City Performance n°1. The word “NI” was posted on 54 billboards in north-eastern Paris, revealing a kind of punk nihilism in the artist, rejecting the theories and dictates of materialism and advertising. .
Art Space n° 5, Special Project exhibition, PS1, New York

Tania Mouraud went back to painting with typographical work and pursued her exploration of the legibility of text in her BLACK POWER series. This work was further developed in Wall Paintings as of 1989. Straight black letters, very elongated and close together, form a word or a phrase that is only legible if the viewer makes an effort: "SEEINGISFORESEEING", "MEMORY", "SEEINGYOURSELFSEEING", "IHAVEADREAM", "WOMANISBEAUTIFUL".
Words exhibition, Riverside Studios, London

BLACK POWER, galerie De Lege Ruimte, Bruges (Belgium)

Tania Mouraud Tania Mouraud produced the work Le Silence des héros within the scope of the Territoires occupés exhibition organised by Frac Lorraine on a former NATO military base in Zweibrücken, Germany.

World Signs, The Herbert Read Gallery, Canterbury, Kent (United Kingdom)*
Le silence des héros, galerie du musée Louise-Weiss, Saverne (France)

On 29 December, Tania Mouraud left Strasbourg by car to go to Struthof, the only death camp on French soil. Camera on her shoulder, she filmed non-stop from the back of the car up to the entrance to the camp, producing Sightseeing with music composed by Claudine Movsessian.
In her next videos, Machines désirantes and La Curée, Tania Mouraud worked on the slow choreography of the bodies of koi carp and hunting dogs – playing on their beauty and their deaf violence.

Tania Mouraud founded the musical experimentation group Unité de Production with Cyprien Dedeurwaeder, Ruben Garcia, Pierre Petit, Marie- Odile Sambourg, Sylvain Souque and Baptiste Vanweydeveldt. Since the end of 2000s, she has been producing set-ups that associate one or several screens and spatialised soundscapes (Ad Infinitum, La Fabrique) or mixing them directly during videoperformances on “visual drones” (DLPDA at Musée de la Chasse et de la Nature en 2009, PreVItSoRaN #1 for Nuit Blanche Paris 2012, ReYIsToW at Backslash gallery in 2014).

Sightseeing, Le Cube, FIAC, galerie Rabouan-Moussion, Paris

HCYS? project, permanent installation, 49 Nord 6 Est - Frac Lorraine, Metz (France)

La Fabrique, CSUF – Grand Central Art Center, Santa Ana, Los Angeles (United States)*

Realised her first live solo video performance and sound improvisation at musée de la Chasse in Paris, mixing soundscapes for a video projection.

La Fabrique, Krasnoye Znamia, French-Russian Year, Saint-Pétersbourg (Russia)

AD NAUSEAM, iaudio-visual installation in partnership with Ircam, MAC/VAL - Musée d’art contemporain du Val-de-Marne, Vitry-sur- Seine (France)*

* An exhibition catalogue was published.



The exhibition opens with the poignant image of an Autodafé from 1968 in which Tania Mouraud ends her pictorial phase of that period in a radical manner.
Two seminal works follow this act of destruction, the largescale white Formica monochrome titled Infini au carré, and Totémisation, a volume-sculpture created on her own fullbody scale. These works embody the formal and spiritual revival that next shaped her career. Presented for the first time in a museum, these works have been re-enacted especially for this occasion.


The works cited above introduce a brief yet extremely fruitful period in Tania Mouraud's work, which focused on the search for "an extra space for soul extension" and brought about her meditation and initiation rooms which she suggested be added to standardised apartments in the 1960-70s.
This aspiration towards art dedicated to space and environment, relatively unheard of on the European art scene, was being explored in the United States at the time by Doug Wheeler, James Turell and Dan Graham, amongst others. Tania Mouraud's creation of a "room for one's self" demonstrates her philosophical reflection on identity and one's connection to the world.

Some of the rooms include research on sound, her own creations or the fruit of work with composers such as Éliane Radigue, Terry Riley, La Monte Young and Pandit Prân Nath.


Tania Mouraud's exploration of identity, awareness of self and one's place in the universe is broadened through her work on a series of photo-texts and photographs taken on heliographic plates, some of which even take the shape of Buddhist mandalas. This examination steadily shifts from subject to object, from cosmological to tangible ending in a pure exploration of language and perception.


"Through my work, I demonstrate that Philosophy and Art should and can merge together to lead us on our path to Knowledge."

Tania Mouraud pursued her exploration of perception by focusing her work on linguistics and the phenomenology of perception – in particular on the notions of the immediate and the deferred. Words became the tools and shapes used to materialise her thoughts.

The artist inscribed words on a polyethylene tarp – a common inexpensive support that evokes the world of manual labour –, then fully extracted the writing, making it larger and larger until reaching abstraction thus exploring its artistic typographical potential more than the actual perception of its meaning.

This led to her "BLACK POWER" work, which consists of a series of relief-paintings with a DIY feel to them, expressing closer ties to industrial painting than to the smooth aesthetics of conceptual art.


City Performance n°1 marks a significant shift in Tania Mouraud's work. At the end of 1977, 54 billboards were marked with the word "NI" (literally neither/nor) in five arrondissements of northern and eastern Paris for 15 days. A subversive paradox of language without a message, the "NI" is an "anonymous stance. Ultimate negation, absolute truth, universal circuit-breaker used by Western logicians and Eastern sages."

This campaign profoundly impacted Tania Mouraud's work and led her to several major trends: the re-use of largescales, the artistic aspects of language and the exploration of public space.

"NI" was a type of protest with which the artist left her purely philosophical-linguistic explorations, turning to more politically motivated content. She did however manage to avoid the pitfalls of literalism and social commentary, her protests remaining, through their abstract representation, protests "with hidden noise".


This part of the exhibition deals with another dimension of Tania Mouraud's work: her relationship with History and its silences, present in several of her works – wall paintings, photographs and videos. Sightseeing (2002) is one of her first works that pointedly refers to Nazi concentration camps by plainly and modestly addressing the Shoah.

Since the 1990s, Mouraud has also been exploring signs and symbols created by society to commemorate events and celebrate heroes: flags, medals, decorations, etc. from which she extracts their plastic and cognitive potential.


After her autodafe of 1968 and her meditation rooms, Tania Mouraud explored the paradoxes essential to our existence: order and chaos, fulfilment and fury, serenity and terror, creation and disappearance. Over the years, and in particular through the use of video, these themes have taken a leading role in her contemplations. Formalism has slowly given way to a more emotional and sensitive dimension in her works, more directly expressing the strength of these paradoxes.

These aspects have become fully tangible in the different registers of her work and have a fulfilling aspect to them in the AD NAUSEAM audio-visual installation.



Located in the historical centre of Metz, in a building from 12th century, Fonds régional d’art contemporain de Lorraine presents its audiences with a variety of artistic experiences. Thematic exhibitions bring conference speakers and idea brokers together with musicians, dancers, as well as others from the artistic scene. In the scope of its cross-disciplinarity, Frac fosters a unique relationship with the written word and organises residencies for art critics, historians, philosophers and writers on a regular basis. This initiative stimulates and encourages critical thinking on the stakes of contemporary society.
The ideas and experiences promoted by the Frac are reflected across its territory and through its collection. This collection often deals with female artists and immaterial forms and is developed through performances, dance and other live forms. As a true mirror of an evolving society, Frac invites its audiences to dream the world in which they live through collective experiences and direct participation.


The concert hall at Arsenal is foremost dedicated to symphonies and baroque music. However, Arsenal is equally open to other musical genres and dance, as well as the fine arts which has a newly reconfigured exhibition space of its own.
The richness of modern and contemporary art from the region and boarder areas has led Arsenal to refine its position in the field of visual arts. Since 2009, the Exhibition Gallery at Arsenal has been entirely dedicated to photography. With 5 to 6 exhibitions per season, it has become a reference venue, working in close connection with the programmes on offer at various partner institutions throughout the region. Its programming is based on the multiple facets of this artistic discipline, ranging from conceptual photography to photo journalism from both the national and international scenes, from young photographers to veteran artists.

EPCC – Metz en Scènes, which groups Arsenal, Les Trinitaires and BAM together, was created in 2009 by the City of Metz and the Lorraine Region.


Located in the historical centre of Metz since 1839, Musée de La Cour d’Or – Metz Métropole retraces the history of the city and its surroundings from ancient Gallo-Roman times to the present through its multi-disciplinary collections including archaeology, history, architecture and the fine arts.
The thermal baths discovered on site in 1932 serve as the backdrop to the permanent exhibition on the daily lives in Roman Gaul. Noteworthy sculptures and funerary steles are equally on display. Several outstanding sets bear witness to the importance of Metz in the Middle Ages: Merovingian tombs, Louis Le Pieux' sarcophagus, a chancel from the Saint-Pierre-aux-Nonnains church as well as rare ceilings made of painted wood. Medieval religious statues are presented in the vast Chèvremont granary, the former reserves for the city built in 15th century, and today classified as a historical monument.
The wide range of European Schools from 19th century Renaissance are well represented in its collections of paintings. The focus is on great artists from Metz (François de Nomé, Poerson, Le Prince), painters from the "École de Metz" (19th century) and a set dedicated to abstraction from the second École de Paris (1940-1980).


Faux Mouvement is a contemporary art centre located in Metz since 1983. The centre has a 350 sq. m. exhibition space at 4 rue du Change, the area extending beyond Place Saint-Louis. Six exhibitions, primarily single-artist shows specifically designed for this space, are programmed on average every year.
The art centre's team conceives off-site projects consisting of urban performances (recently with Bertrand Lavier and Gérard Collin-Thiébaut), remote exhibitions, artist residencies, training and information sessions in partnership with the training centre FAPAC (Formation des artistes et des professionnels de la culture) and actively participates in the "Nouveaux Commanditaires" programme headed by Fondation de France. Faux Mouvement has more recently associated itself with research conducted by university laboratories (Labex Arts H2H-Université Paris 8). Commissioned by the City of Metz, the centre invests in social projects with schools, retirement homes and hospitals as well.


Octave Cowbell is a 'community' exhibition space. Its primary aim is to promote young contemporary art in its diverse forms both in the Lorraine region and elsewhere.
Located at 5 rue des Parmentiers, Octave Cowbell is an apartment open to visitors. You enter the space through a window using a small staircase placed in the street. Inside, 25 sq. m. of neon-lit white and a chimney. The non-profit organisation that runs the space is backed by DRAC Lorraine, Lorraine Regional Council, Moselle General Council and City of Metz.


In September 2010, alongside Nuit Blanche 3 in Metz, Vanessa Steiner and Cédric Shili decided to take over the premises of a shop once run by dog groomer. They created Toutouchic gallery. The aim is to disseminate and enhance contemporary creation dealing with installation and graphic design in a broad sense (print-type, edition, poster, etc.).
The gallery strives to present work with a twist on contemporary issues. The mediums used to achieve this, i.e. novel use of objects, off-beatness or quirkiness, and changes in scale, provide viewers with a number of possibilities to simply feel addressed by the artistic process, after which they can then head into a more “complex” interpretation of the issue itself.


Fashion specialist and leader in the down-town shopping sector, Galeries Lafayette group is a private, family, sales group in retail shopping with 120 years to its name. Stakeholder committed to creation and leading private employer in France with 15,000 associates, the Group aims at fostering l’Art de Vivre à la française. With retail sales of 3.8 billion Euros, the Group today benefits from international renown founded on its emblematic brands: Galeries Lafayette, BHV / MARAIS, Royal Quartz, Louis Pion and Didier Guérin.


ÉSAL (École supérieure d'art de Lorraine) is a public institution, which along with École d’Épinal and CEFEDEM, make up the only higher education centre for plastic arts–music–dance in Lorraine region. It maintains a diverse network of local connections in the artistic and cultural field including Centre Pompidou-Metz, Musée de l’Image d’Épinal, 49 Nord 6 Est - Frac Lorraine, Centre d’art la Synagogue de Delme, Octave Cowbell gallery, as well as others.
With over 160 students and a teaching staff comprised of artists, theoreticians and practitioners, it offers crossboarder opportunities into Germany, Belgium and Luxembourg through its Erasmus programme.

The École Supérieure d'Art de Lorraine has contributed to this retrospective.

Students partook in workshops with the artist. Ten-some were engaged in wall paintings and the exhibition's installation.

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