forever & today, inc.
Mark Geffriaud: For Jeanne
April 26 – May 24, 2014
Westbeth Center for the Arts
Private entrance at 137 Bank Street, Northwest corner of Bank and Washington Streets (West Village), New York
Forever & Today, Inc. presents For Jeanne by Paris-based French artist Mark Geffriaud, a site-specific commissioned exhibition of new work on view from April 26–May 24, 2014, in association with the Cultural Services of the French Embassy’s ART² International Platform on Contemporary Art.
Like Geffriaud’s other multidisciplinary work—installation, sculpture, text, artist books, projections, readings, and collaborative performances, For Jeanne forms a nexus of artistic, literary, and scientific inquiry that sheds light on the arcane aspects of our time. Temporarily using two vacant spaces within Westbeth Center for the Arts, Geffriaud pays homage to the history of the building as the former location of Bell Labs from 1898 to 1966, a Manhattan research complex where groundbreaking new technological inventions, including the transistor, vacuum tube, talking film, and television, were developed. Converted by architect Richard Meier in 1970, it became a non-profit organization providing housing and studios for artists and performers; Westbeth was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2009.
T for Jeanne, 2010/2014, is an exercise in wordplay, seemingly real, yet a photo-based work that is really a trick of the eye—an illusory assemblage. The words “for Jeanne” appear on a page torn from a book, overlaid to partially obscure a photograph of a woman peering through a magnifying glass at an early transistor prototype. This references both the transistor as a Bell Labs invention, and Jeanne, Geffriaud’s 100-year-old grandmother, whose lifetime encompasses the 20th-century era when these new technologies were introduced. A dedication of sorts, it is both a portrait of the site and its history as well as an individual.
Similarly, Sleeper, 2014, is a transformative portrait of a decayed and orphaned section of track from the High Line, located on the roof of what is now Westbeth since 1934, when elevated trains ran directly through the building. Taking a miniscule sample of wood from one of the railroad ties, Geffriaud arranged for its conversion into a small amount of graphite by a radiocarbon dating lab. Serving as a non-static time capsule, the graphite will continually evolve in the future as a material and conceptual byproduct of the building.
FCTSSTRNGRTHNFCTN, 2014, is a single-channel video installation that features an animated spinning dollar coin. Flashing like a lighthouse beacon as its lens rotates, this image is projected within an enclosed space onto a small tinted glass “window.” As light appears only intermittently, viewers may also momentarily see their own reflection or through the window to an inaccessible subterranean area, inciting a phenomenological shift in their perception in relation to the wider space beyond.
The title of the work is derived from the encrypted phrase “fact is stranger than fiction,” demonstrating that although vowels are removed, the phrase remains intelligible. Departing from this idea, scientist Claude Shannon, a mathematician, electronic engineer, and cryptographer who worked at Bell Labs, developed a method whereby transmitted information could be even further compressed into code without losing content, i.e. into “bits” (binary digits) much like a coin toss of heads or tails determines a choice between two possibilities. Shannon is commonly known as the “father of information theory.”
The exhibition For Jeanne creates complex readings allowing for travel to and from shifting vantage points, with no immediate interpretation of the work. Instead, an environment is formulated that stimulates ongoing dialogue, revealing layers of intrigue.
Mark Geffriaud (b. 1977, Vitry-sur-Seine, France) lives and works in Paris. He graduated from École Supérieure des Beaux-Arts, Montpellier (2004). Solo exhibitions include Galerie Saint-Severin, Paris (2013); Walden Affairs, The Hague, The Netherlands (2013); Jeu de Paume, Paris (2011); Artissima, Torino, Italy (2010); gb agency, Paris (2010, 2009); Art 40 Basel, Switzerland (2009); The Garden, Vilnius, Lithuania (2009); Palais de Tokyo, Paris (2008), and others. Group exhibitions include De Appel, Amsterdam, The Netherlands (2014); Rowing Projects, London, UK (2013); Brukenthal National Museum, Sibiu, Romania (2012); Emily Harvey Foundation, New York (2012); Independent, New York (2012); Mercer Union, Toronto, Canada (2012); Murray Guy, New York (2012); Museum of Modern Art, Antwerp, Belgium (2012); San Francisco Art Institute, California (2012); gb agency, Paris (2011); Museum of modern and contemporary art, Bolzano, Italy (2010); and Kadist Art Foundation, Paris (2009), among others. Geffriaud is the author of several artist books and his work has been featured through Art 21, and in such international publications as Artforum, Artforum.com, ArtReview, Flash Art, Mousse, and The New York Times. Geffriaud is represented by gb agency, Paris and was recently a participant of Triangle Residency, Triangle Arts Association, New York.
Westbeth is a center for the arts and a provider of affordable housing for artists in New York City's West Village. Westbeth contains 384 residential live-work units and is also the home of the Martha Graham Center of Contemporary Dance, The New School for Drama graduate program, the LAByrinth Theater, a synagogue, an art gallery, and numerous large and small spaces rented to painters, sculptors, musicians, dancers and other artists of many disciplines.
Mark Geffriaud: For Jeanne is curated by Ingrid Chu and Savannah Gorton, and commissioned and presented by Forever & Today, Inc. in the framework of ART².
ART²: An International Platform on Contemporary Art is presented by the Cultural Services of the French Embassy in the U.S. in collaboration with the New York presenters Institut français, the French Ministry of Culture and Communication and FACE (French American Cultural Exchange).
Mark Geffriaud: For Jeanne is supported in part by Etant donnés: the French-American Fund for Contemporary Art, a program of FACE and the Cultural Services of the French Embassy in the United States, with funding from the Florence Gould Foundation, more at www.frenchculture.org, and Foundation for Contemporary Arts, New York.
Special thanks to Elisabeth Hayes of French American Cultural Exchange (FACE); Sophie Claudel, Dorothée Charles, and Béatrice Arnaud of the Cultural Services of the French Embassy; Steve Neil, Matthew Russas, and Todd Salley of Westbeth Center for the Arts; gb agency, Paris; Anne Barlow and Jonathan Rider of Art in General; Melissa Levin of Lower Manhattan Cultural Council (LMCC); Linda Scott Cummings, Ph.D. and Jenny Milligan of PaleoResearch Institute, Inc.; Géraldine Geffriaud; Paul Geffriaud Longueville; Florence Ostende; Jackson McDade; Carlos Roque; Thiago Szmrecsányi; Elaine Bowen; and James Duncan.