As Handsome as the Chance Encounter
Contemporary fashion and art meet in this exhibition inspired by the poem Les Chants de Maldoror (1869) by the Comte de Lautréamont.
Les Chants de Maldoror revolves around Maldoror, a figure of unrelenting evil, who has forsaken God and mankind. In the sixth and last canto, Lautréamont finds the character of Mervyn ‘as handsome … as the chance encounter upon a dissecting table of a sewing machine and an umbrella,’ a quote made famous by the Surrealists.
This canto tells the story of Maldoror’s seduction and assassination of sixteen-year-old Mervyn. Yet this is no story in the traditional sense. Its plot takes many twists and turns, and a motley crew of supporting characters enters the scene throughout the eight stanzas. While having distinct creative voices, each of the artists and fashion designers featured in this exhibition echo a specific stanza of the last canto of Les Chants de Maldoror.
In addition, the ‘chance encounter’ encapsulates one of the most important principles of the Surrealist aesthetic: the theory of objective chance, that is, the enforced juxtaposition of two distant realities, which challenges the viewer’s preconception of reality. Disentangling the threads of Lautréamont’s book, the exhibition space becomes the dissecting table upon which the chance encounter of fashion and art objects is explored.
Initiating multiple material, visual, and conceptual encounters, this exhibition shows, for the first time in Norway, creations of Paris-based fashion designers – Clinique Vestimentaire, Coralie Marabelle, Mansour Martin, and Proêmes de Paris – together with works of both French and Norwegian emerging artists – Grégoire Motte, Jara Marken, Pia Antonsen Rognes, and Steffen André Nilsen.
Arbitrary juxtapositions are not absent connexions, quite the opposite. From the accidental display of objects emerges a wealth of intertwined themes, approaches, and discourses. Some connections disappear as quickly as they appear, while others only seem to grow stronger, and linger in the viewer’s memory.
February 27 - March 29, 2020 (extended to April 22, 2020 due to COVID-19).
Curated by Johanna Zanon.
See a review of the exhibition in Kunstavisen (in Norwegian).
See the vernissage on February 27.
See the curator's guided tour on February 29.
See the digital tour.
See the exhibition book.
See a review of the exhibition book in Cahiers Lautréamont (in French).