Guillaume Désanges & mountaincutters


Exhibition    Production    Works    Biography


  • From 13th October 2018 to 6th January 2019
    At Le Grand Café - contemporary art centre
    Opening Friday October, 12th at 6pm30

With: moutaincutters, Etel Adnan, CADA (Colectivo Acciones de Arte), Danièle Allemand et Stéphane Gérard (initiateurs de l'atelier Phénomènes), Manuel Joseph, l’art du Kintsugi (Catherine Algoet/mountaincutters), Moondog, Pier Paolo Pasolini, W.G. Sebald, Richard Serra Christophe Tarkos.

First exhibition of the cycle "Fictional Genealogies" proposed by the curator Guillaume Désanges at the invitation of the Grand Café - contemporary art centre, Saint-Nazaire.

« Under construction, everything is only half complete. In ruins, all is complete. »
The Prince, Béla Tarr, Werckmeister Harmonies, 2000

Young duo mountaincutters is a hybrid, practising in situ sculpture that radically contaminates the space of the sites where he/she exhibits. The vagaries of identity are echoed in a corresponding aesthetic incertitude that emphasises transitory situations and unfinished forms in apparently fortuitous compositions of a savage beauty. Corrupted materials and dirty objects, dust, earth and rust invading surfaces and floors, broken concrete slabs, rough and ready ceramic, continuously circulating water: mountaincutters installations are traces of improbable activities, caught between construction and destruction, between architecture and archaeology, and looking at times like an abandoned building site. A raw, not to say brutal, character where the 'misshapen' arouses a degree of doubt or unease and also a particular fascination for the ruined. This obvious aridity can't hide the rigour or the precision of some discreetly theatrical, even spectacular, compositions that always suggest an activity 'by implication'. In fact, everything here resonates with an absent body for which these sculptures would be artificial limbs and organs, rudimentary and insufficient appendages locked into a functional logic whose finality escapes us. And if it were a scene from theatre, it would be from tragedy, or more precisely from the resurgence of tragedy in the industrial era. There is in fact a literary side to mountaincutters’ sculptural practice. The written work that accompanies it, raw poetry written in the first person, organically mirrors the material structures. Photographs sometimes appear to offer the beginnings of a narrative; from there on, an unfathomable mystery emanates from the oeuvre, taken in the two etymological senses of work and of opera, i.e. related to difficulty and bodies being modified, but also to the enigma of creation.

The Spolia exhibition project unfolds the work of mountaincutters across a vast installation that includes new productions (with sculptures, drawings, videos) yet is also a receptacle for other forms – films, objects, texts, documents, works, etc. – chosen by the curator and the artists to echo their work. From Etel Adnan’s paintings to artefacts produced for the replica of the Chauvet Cave, from Pasolini’s politico-poetic approach to the experimental music of Moondog, by way of poetry by Christophe Tarkos or Manuel Joseph, these heteroclite elements form a kind of 'fictional genealogy' laid out in space. A zone of muted tension pierced at the surface, as if by capillary action, with remnants of the repressed.

The title of this simultaneously collective and individual exhibition, Spolia, comes from a Latin word that designates the architectural use of a fragment of an existing construction by integrating it into a new whole. The obscure origins of this practice – at different times and places out of necessity, homage or displays of dominance through ‘despoiled’ property – sits perfectly with the fundamentally archaeological character of mountaincutters’ work and with the hybrid nature of this particular project. The artists carried out research in Saint-Nazaire and the surrounding area ahead of the exhibition, drawing on the industrial, historical and sensual resources of places. The whole therefore makes up a kind of ‘meta exhibition’ or total artwork giving an enlarged understanding of both their work and the ghosts that haunt it. It is notably concerned with destruction, fusion, fossils, tragedy, reparation, poetry and politics, but captured in a non-discursive system arising instead from the ineffable, or even from the literally ‘unnameable’, i.e.: that which refuses to be named.
Guillaume Désanges

Special thanks to : Amaury Cornut, Philippe Durand, Stéphane Gérard, Wolfgang Gnida, Jean-Marc Prévost


Mountaincutters, exhibition view Spolia, 2018
Installation in situ, 2018, Variable dimensions
Clay, blown glass, copper, porcelain, steel, brass, drawings, rust, cement, floor
Production Le Grand Café – contemporary art centre, Saint-Nazaire, France


Christophe Tarkos
Extract from L’Enregistré, 2014
Éditions P.O.L.

Yearbook 1, 1967
14,8 x 21 cm, 16 pages, edition on paper
Collection Wolfgang Gnida

Canons and Couplets, Volume 1, 1979
14,8 x 21 cm, 8 pages, edition on paper
Collection Wolfgang Gnida

German Book, 1970
14,8 x 21 cm, 12 pages,
Edition on paper
Collection Wolfgang Gnida

Moondog / Wolfgang Gnida
All is Loneliness (Transcription),
21 x 29,7 cm, 2 pages, edition on paper
Collection Wolfgang Gnida

Etel Adnan
Sans titre, 2013
35 x 45 cm, painting on canvas
Collection Carré d’art, Nîmes, France

W. G. Sebald
37 x 24,5 cm (close) / 49 cm (open) x 7,5 cm
Facsimile of an archive box
Collection Deutsches Literaturarchiv Marbach Archiv, Handschriftenlesesaal, Marbach am Neckar

Richard Serra
Hand Catching Lead, 1968
Black and white 16 mm film, scanned, silent, 3 min.
Courtesy Arsenal Institut für Film und Videokunst e.V., Berlin

Partition, 1988
60 x 80 cm, edition
Copyright Hardin & Goebel

Catherine Algoet et mountaincutters
Objet de main, 2017
7 x 8 x 8 cm, porcelain Kintsugi

CADA (Colectivo Acciones De Arte)
¡Ay Sudamérica!, 1981
Vidéo, 8 min. 20 s.
Courtesy Lotty Rosenfeld et CADA

Christophe Tarkos
PAN, 2014
Editions P.O.L.

Etel Adnan
Sans titre, 2012
24 x 30 cm, painting on canvas
Collection Carré d’art, Nîmes, France

Etel Adnan
Sans titre, 2012
24 x 30 cm, painting on canvas
Collection Carré d’art, Nîmes, France

Etel Adnan
Extract from Apocalypse Arabe, 1980

Danièle Allemand and Stéphane Gérard (initiators of Atelier Phénomènes)
Research material for the replica of the Chauvet cave, France, 2014
Various elements of variable dimensions, fiberglass and polystyrene

Pier Paolo Pasolini
La Rabbia, 1963
Film, extract 1 min. 20 s.
Minerva Pictures - Roma, Italy

Christophe Tarkos
Extracts from Pan, 2014
Editions P.O.L.

Manuel Joseph
Text and sound recording, 11 min. 52 s.


mountaincutters is a duo of young artists who lives and works in Marseille and Brussels.

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