Sculpt: Grumpy Bear, The Great Spinoff
November 29, 2018–May 4, 2019
A talk with the artist Loris Gréaud: November 29, 7:30pm
The Doron Sebbag—ORS Ltd. Photography Gallery
Tel Aviv Museum of Art
The Golda Meir Cultural and Art Center
27 Shaul Hamelech Blvd
Tel Aviv 61332012
Exhibition Curator: Ruth Direktor
This is the first solo exhibition in Israel featuring Loris Gréaud (b. 1979), one of the most prominent young artists working today in France. The different components of the exhibition—a short film, sculpture, lighting, sound, and movement—work together to create a cyclical narrative event in which rain and clouds are the central motifs: rain as a futuristic-technological development and as a poetic, fictional, or apocalyptic phenomenon; clouds as an evasive narrative and as a fabricated entity.
The project’s title was borrowed from the animated children’s series Care Bears, whose protagonists are a series of sweet and good-tempered bears. “Grumpy Bear” stands out due to his ill temper, blue color, and raincloud on its belly, as well as due to his technical abilities.
Another protagonist of the rain/clouds-related mythology created in this project is the NASA Stennis Space Center in Mississippi, USA, where Gréaud filmed the breathtaking technological phenomenon of artificial clouds: a cloud factory that produces rain used to cool the engines of spaceship after takeoff.
Another site filmed by Gréaud is Louisiana’s Bayou country, an area filled with swamps and forests. The lens of Gréaud’s camera, which is carried above ground by a drone, reveals a tangled, watery natural expanse that appears at once primeval and apocalyptic. The film’s third arena is the stage of the Châtelet Theater in Paris, which features the reconstructed set of the rainy street from Singin’ in the Rain, the 1952 film by Stanley Donen and Gene Kelly.
Seen against this backdrop is the actress Charlotte Rampling, herself an iconic figure, wearing Grumpy Bear’s blue outfit as she paces back and forth and mutters sentences from the post-apocalyptic novels of J.G. Ballard. Ballard’s pessimistic vision concerning the future of humanity and its subjugation to technology pervades the film’s dystopic and disturbing atmosphere. Recorded audience laughter accompanies the sentences uttered by Rampling/Ballard/Grumpy Bear, casting this appearance as a dark and cynical stand-up performance.
Grumpy Bear is actually a spinoff of Sculpt—a solo show commissioned by the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) that took the form of a feature film and was screened there in 2016. For the exhibition at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art, Gréaud sculpted a space shaped like a narrow corridor. Visitors can sit in niches set into the wall and look out, as if from theater balconies or confessionals, on the cyclical event unfolding before their eyes: when the 7-minute film ends, the curtains covering the gallery walls open to reveal Grumpy Bear’s blue fur outfit, which was worn by Charlotte Rampling in the film, appears outside the gallery, on the railing of the Lightfall—the Museum’s central architectural element. The hypnotizing sound of Rampling’s whispering voice floods the Museum’s space. When the whispering ends, the curtain closes, the Lightfall disappears, the gallery is darkened, and the film is screened once again.
Gréaud’s project weaves a tale that is at once ancient and new. Its origins were inspired by both high and popular culture, science and mythology, and it floods the museum spaces with a mixture of poeticism and dread.
The film Grumpy Bear is going to be part of the collection of the Tel Aviv Museum of Art
Trailer of Grumpy Bear: vimeo.com/300486959
The project in the Lightfall was made possible thanks to the generosity of Jill and Jay Bernstein. The exhibition was made possible thanks to the generosity of The French Committee of Friends of the Tel Aviv Museum of Art; Fonds Social Juif Unifié; The French Institute, Paris; The French Institute of Israel; and The Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs. It is organized as part of the 2018 France-Israel Season.