Mécènes du Sud Montpellier-Sète-Béziers
The Solitary Hours of Night, Kévin Blinderman
Installation activated out of conversation and screening time at the Grand Plateau
From Thursday August 25 to Sunday August 28, 2022
Darkness. An empty stage. Save for a pair of stage lights, each one mounted on a stand, poised in a face-off of blinding white light. Between them, at the same height of 150 cm, a horizontal lighting rig with equally spaced-out rotating LED spotbeams. For the moment, these are inert. A synthesised voice speaks up. It talks of the night, full of marvel and wonder at the unknown vastness of the universe that unveils itself once the clock strikes midnight. It talks of longing, of flight, of casting aside and freeing oneself of one’s body, and of the unfathomable reality of this short-lived clarity and promised escape. And then the music kicks in. And with it, the strobe lights. Over the next three or so minutes, the pace of the music picks up with each beat and the bass deepens, leading to ever more intense crescendos, the lights follow suit, throwing out epilepsy-inducing beams and shards of nuances of blue – baby blue, turquoise, sea-blue, royal blue, night blue… – until the energy drops, the pace slows and here we are, out of breath, skin flecked with sweat, with the two lone white stage lights and that voice again. It speaks of melancholy. Silence. Ten minutes of it. And then the cycle begins all over again.
Maybe it’s a funny coincidence or just pure serendipity that this excerpt, taken from French astronomer Camille Flammarion, that cradles the musical mass of Quit Life’s Awake, the track that is the starting point and driving force of Kévin Blinderman’s new installation, voices a predisposition to melancholy that is such an integral part of Kévin’s work as a whole¹. Equally, Flammarion’s ode to the night finds its reflection in the artist’s recent pieces, but these latter draw their energy from an altogether different aspect of the midnight hour, namely nightlife, the parties, clubs and raves that announce themselves once the sun sets, and the confusing, sometimes violent, often conflicting, mixture of emotional states that these unleash.
If Kévin’s work, as he often reminds us, is based on the vernacular of the party as a set of techniques, it may well find itself in the spectrum of ‘resonant abstractions’, the term writer and theorist McKenzie Wark applies to pinpoint the specificity of the spaces and temporalities that make up queer and trans raves². At odds with a normative, late-capitalist reality that imposes social, economic, material and bodily conformism, Wark sees raves as situations and experiences that evade the image complex and decentre the power of the gaze in order to make space for a distributed subjectivity, an ‘erotics of the social’ and the unleashing of a corporeal dissociation, of a politics of bodies that don’t quite fit into – but neither do they want to – the expectations of mainstream society. What Kévin sets in motion in this space, whose emptiness only underscores the theatricality of the endeavour, is a visceral, sensorial, emotion-laden choreography; a melancholic performance whose beauty, vulnerable and giving off vibes of a dark romanticism, owes much to its not-giving-a-fuck about the actual presence of others – of us – or not.
I don’t really know if Kévin’s work is autobiographical – the machinic parts that he deploys as performative sculptures or installations have clearly avatar-like anthropomorphic features (stand-ins for the artist?), as was the case with recent exhibitions at Le Confort Moderne in Poitiers (2021) or at KEUR in Paris (2022), and even this new piece, although now predominantly horizontal, maintains the average height of an adult – but it is certainly personal³. Personal in the sense that it is a bittersweet reminder (awakening?) that the night, and with it: the party, the drugs and the moments spent chasing a high, the hook-ups, the bust-ups, the tenderness, the sensuality and violence, the hour-long conversations, wearing your heart on your sweat-drenched sleeve, identities peeled off with each change of outfit, limbs moving frenetically until the last supply of oxygen is all used up, the after-party, the sun rising, the rest of the world (or so it seems) reawakening, they all come to an end. But that they also continue with or without you. And that, sometimes, often, there’s nothing like the loneliness of being together, with others. Blue, after all, is also the colour of sadness.
Text by Anya Harrison
¹ Camille Flammarion, The Marvels of the heavens (1870)
² McKenzie Wark, lecture “Refuge in the Unseen: On Queer Raves”, May 6, 2022
³ You’re the Worst, Le Confort Moderne, Poitiers (2021); Final Episode (with Paul-Alexandre Islas), KEUR, Paris (2022)
Curator : Anya Harrison
Artistic Director: Alexandre Kontini
Lighting Engineer: Diliana Vekhoff
With the support of Mécènes du Sud Montpellier-Sète-Béziers
Following a BFA from the École nationale supérieure d’arts de Paris-Cérgy (ENSAPC), Kévin Blinderman began his Master of Fine Arts at the Bezalel Academy in Tel Aviv and obtained his DNSEP (MFA) at ENSAPC in 2018. His work has been presented in group exhibitions, including at Le Plateau / Frac Ile-de-France, Paris; Kunsthalle Bern, Switzerland; Boros Foundation x Berghain and KW Institute for Contemporary Art, Berlin. From 2020 to 2021 he took part in BPA// Berlin Program for Artists. In 2021, following a six-month residency, Kévin Blinderman had his first solo exhibition, You’re the Worst, at the Confort Moderne.
In his practice, Blinderman orchestrates physical and mental experiences in which objects or situations that surround him transcend their primary function. His works are composed like scores, offering a performative experience to the visitor. Blinderman re-enacts and exaggerates the social choreographies that define his environment, melancholically underlining the distances that bring us together.
Mécènes du Sud Montpellier-Sète-Béziers
Mécènes du Sud brings together two groups of companies that are invested in developing and financing artworks, events, and various collaborations in contemporary art through an annual open call for projects, in either the Aix-Marseille or Montpellier-Sète-Béziers regions. Mécènes du Sud Montpellier-Sète-Béziers was created in 2017 as a spin-off of the Aix-Marseille structure. It benefits from a dedicated space located in the city center of Montpellier, where a year-round programme of exhibitions is presented to the public. While the Aix-Marseille structure has participated in Art-o-rama for many years, this is the first time that Montpellier-Sète-Béziers is present at the fair with, The Solitary Hours of Night, a new work by Kévin Blinderman, winner of the 2021 call for projects, whose production the organisation has supported.
The Solitary Hours of Night
Kevin Blinderman, 2022
Installation, 5’30”, activated every 10′
Music by Quit Life