A kind of ”huh ?” exhibition

‘Pigeon Reader’, Simon Morris, 2012. Photo: Peter Heaton.

Exhibition 8 November 2012- 23 March 2013

Les Abattoirs, Toulouse Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art + touring, curated by Jérôme Dupeyrat and Maïwenn Walter

In an interview with Willoughby Sharp made in 1973, Ed Ruscha said about the artist’s books he published in the sixties that all his work aimed for producing “a kind of ‘huh?’:

— I realized that for the first time this book had an inexplicable thing I was looking for, and that was
a kind of « huh? » That’s what I’ve always worked around. All it is is a device to disarm somebody
with my particular message. Lots of artists use that.
— Give me some examples of « Huh? »
— I don’t know, somebody digging a hole out in the desert and calling it sculpture…
“Huh?” : this onomatopoeia stands for “What is it?”, “Why?”, “What does it mean? etc.”

These questions, which seem to express incomprehension or misunderstanding, which seem to testify a
loss of criterion, can be paradoxically positive and constructive, because through doubt and
questioning, the “huh?” effect is in fact a driving force of the process of aesthetic reception.
Any artwork can provoke a “huh?” effect and anybody can feel this effect in various degrees when
looking, reading or hearing an artwork. For that reason, if this exhibition is thought on a “huh ?”
territory, it doesn’t consider it as a subject or a topic. Here, “huh?” is rather an implicit leitmotiv,
something in mind when working, with nevertheless an hypothesis : the one that “huh?” effect is
particularly active in artworks which are defined by oscillations between the obvious and the
indecipherable, the trivial or the commonplace and the strange and the unexpected, between
sense and non-sense, logic and absurdity, simplicity and abstruseness or hermeticism, between
what the artwork shows and what it says.

In the exhibition there will be both artists’ books or publications by artists and artworks in other mediums such
as video, sculpture, photography, etc. Artists’ books and publications by artists because Ed Ruscha
refers to them when speaking about this “kind of ‘huh?’” and because a library is the perfect place
to show this kind of productions, which often aim to be books like any other. And artworks in other
mediums because in spite of their specificities and in spite of their alternative value, artists’ books
are not an autonomous, confidential or marginal genre in the sphere of contemporary art but are
fully part of it.

The artists whose work will be exhibited will be Aurore Chassé, Claude Closky, Information as
Material, Julien Nédélec, Ed Ruscha.

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