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La Criee Centre for Contemporary Art presents Jan Kopp Un Grand Ensemble

La Criee Centre for Contemporary Art presents Jan Kopp Un Grand Ensemble on view through 17 November 2013. Kopp is the associate artist of the Art Centre’s 2013-2014 season Courir les Rues (Running the Streets), for which this is the inaugural exhibition.

Jan Kopp, Courir Niemeyer, 2013. Video capture: Marcel Dinahet. Courtesy Jan Kopp.
Jan Kopp, Courir Niemeyer, 2013. Video capture: Marcel Dinahet. Courtesy Jan Kopp.

Observant, nomadic, polysemic, polyglot: Jan Kopp runs the streets in every sense, on the lookout for signs and questions about our everyday environments—temporal and physical, political and poetic.

Jan Kopp draws, sculpts, and plays with and against space. At the core of his approach is a sharing of sensory experiences, in terms either of our physical reception of his works or of their actual making, which he sometimes invites us to be part of.

This is certainly the case here at La Criée, where the monumental installation Grand ensemble has taken over virtually the entire space. This rhizomic work comprises hundreds of stalk-shaped objects: sticks, branches, broom handles, curtain rods, bike pumps, telescopic antennas, rulers, tubes, etc. Collected from Rennes residents before the exhibition, these objects are seen by the artist as “‘personal measuring devices’ taken from different points in the city of Rennes and making up a geography or imaginary network given concrete form by being temporarily assembled in the Art Centre.”(1) The only limits to the expansion of the work, as it evolves randomly according to what is collected, are its robustness and the room available inside the Art Centre.

A collective—or at least participatory—work, Grand Ensemble reveals some of the artist’s ongoing concerns, including making together and living together. The objects rounded up here are intersecting, intermingling, individual stories, a kind of visual variation on George Perec’s Life: A User’s Manual.

In the exhibition space’s second room are a selection of drawings made by Jan Kopp since the late 1990s. A preliminary, constituent, almost archaeological grouping of the origins of his work, in whose eclecticism of media and treatment we discover anew that characteristic multiplicity and freedom.

And in the small exhibition room we can watch an assemblage of videos of several artists involved, last spring, in the Lebanese phase of the Suspended Spaces project. Kopp is an active member of the project and here we see him running through the site of Oscar Niemeyer’s unfinished Permanent International Fair in Tripoli. This film is typical of the issues tackled by Kopp’s exhibition and, more broadly, of his work to come as associate artist during the Courir les Rues season: perspective and horizon lines, the utopian as against the conflictual city, and junctions, interchanges and transmission.

With its architectural and sociological overtones—in French the term “grand ensemble” means a large entity or set, but also a housing estate—the exhibition is driven by poetical/political works that leave each of us free to construct invisible cities and imaginary journeys, with art on every street corner as tangible, shared experience.

La Criée Centre for Contemporary Art
Place Honoré Commeurec
35000 Rennes, France