“Expologie” is a series of talks presented at the Bourse de Commerce which provides an oral history of the most iconic contemporary art exhibitions. Conceived by Clément Dirié, for this first season, the focus will be on the 1990s in France, a period with many manifesto exhibitions that profoundly reinvigorated the French and international scene. In this respect, many regional art centres and museums played a leading role in redefining the exhibition format and the experience of art.
In 1996, the exhibition Traffic, curated by Nicolas Bourriaud at the CAPC-musée d'art contemporain de Bordeaux, was an essential landmark in this history. With its organic constellation of different space-times and its consideration of the “life” of the exhibition as one of its major themes, Traffic embodied the concept of relational aesthetics developed by Bourriaud in the mid-1990s, and brought together a generation of artists operating “with the same practical and theoretical horizon: the sphere of inter-human relations” (catalogue preface).
By bringing together important figures of the time, later accounts, and the projection of rare and unpublished archives, this talk will look back at the singularity, the challenges, and the reception of the Traffic exhibition, the way in which it became part of the contemporary artistic landscape, and its subsequent resonances. This first instalment of the oral history of contemporary art exhibitions will be followed in autumn 2021 by sessions devoted to L'Hiver de l'amour (ARC, Paris, 1994) and Curios & Mirabilia (Château d’Oiron, 1993)
An art historian, critic, and independent curator, Clément Dirié is the editorial director of JRP Editions, a publishing house with which he has edited several books and DVDs on the history of twentieth- and twenty-first-century exhibitions. As attentive to current artistic creation as to the genealogies of contemporary art history since the 1960s, he is the author of numerous essays on art and design, and of a forthcoming book entitled Iris Clert : L'Astre ambigu de l’avant-garde to be published by Hermann.