Sex, violence and Mickey Mouse
War and pornography inspire this exhibition from Fonds National d’Art Contemporain, while Disney’s rodent takes a beating from the French
In the main concourse of the National Museum of Contemporary Arts in Bucharest now stands Wang Du’s ‘Parade’ (2000).
This shows plaster sculptures of Chinese Red Army propaganda posters including foreshortened soldiers racing into battle, descending from helicopters or loading up rockets.
At the vanguard is a young boy pulling back the bow of a sling. The defiance in his face is the most threatening weapon on show.
The image is both grandiose and a cartoon. It complements its position in the hall of a similar propagandist sculpture meant to inspire awe and pride in a downtrodden populace, Ceausescu’s People’s Palace, now the Romanian Parliament.
Never has this building been put to better use.
This is the frontline of an uneasy mix of 40 works by 20 French and international contemporary artists from Paris-based collection Fonds National d’Art Contemporain (FNAC).
Showcased is France’s love/hate relationship with America. Mickey Mouse is the chief victim. He is a ghoulish prop in a noirish murder scene in one sketch, while in a sculpture, his head is eaten by a face of matchsticks. Meanwhile Bertrand Lavier’s ‘Walt Disney Productions’ (1995), a gaudy blue limb with a hole, shows how the curvature of Disney characters resembles Hans Arp’s abstract sculpture.
Dark humour is present in Alain Sechas’s ‘Professeur Suicide’ (1995). An egg-headed teacher presents to a lecture group a video showing the correct method of taking a pin to one’s own head and then popping it clean away. Here education only informs us of the least painful method of reaching the end of our life. This is a great image in the grand tradition of the French Absurd.
But the Internet is the chief influence here. Much like the web, the most popular images contain wit and violence, with a cast of sex organs and cartoon animals.
In Petra Mrzyk and Jean Francois Moriceau’s ‘Untitled’ a pictureless frame with arms and legs sits exhausted against a gallery wall, where it dreams of smaller canvasses containing razor blades, mice with human erections and a Ku Klux Klan gathering, where the hooded members paint eye sockets on themselves.
Sick? Possibly. But it is stunning to see the vast space next to Parliament occupied with a dazzling carnival of perversion and murder.
Works from the ‘Fonds National d’art contemporain’; National Museum of Contemporary Arts (MNAC)
Calea 13 Septembrie entrance
Open until the end of August 2008