Exhibition: Lyon looks to Los Angeles

Published: 2017/03/20 by

How about visiting Los Angeles without leaving Lyon? Get yourself over to the Museum of Contemporary Art which until July 2017 is showing the best of California’s creativity and lifting the veil on the many facets of the City of Angels. Far from the image of the film “La La Land”.


In an exhibition running until July 9th 2017, Lyon’s Musée d’Art Contemporain / Museum of Contemporary Art (MAC) presents an opportunity to visit Los Angeles through the eyes of 34 artists. It’s like watching a vivid film representing three generations of living visual artists all telling a story of this west coast metropolis.


“Los Angeles, a fiction”, Musee d’art contemporain, Lyon. F. CROUZET/This is Lyon


Only this time without the Hollywood glitter and a long way from the sterile world portrayed in the film “La La Land”. “We were intrigued by the ambiguity between the myth and reality of Los Angeles. We wanted to go beyond that and create a new picture of this complex city, to show Los Angeles through fiction because there is more to L.A. than Hollywood, Beverly Hills and the entertainment industry. We rediscover the richness of this city, it’s diversity and it’s social problems such as racism, immigration and poverty. That’s what these artists are talking about”, explained French MAC director Thierry Raspall and Icelandic Gunnar B. Karvan, organisers of the exhibition.

In the beginning the intention was to feature the younger generation of artists but in order to tell the story of this complex city, as artificial as it is harsh, it was necessary to go back in time a little and listen to the voices of some of the pioneers of contemporary art.

Thus the exhibition features the famous Pop Art paintings of Ed Rush, The Back of Hollywood (1977) and works by conceptual artist John Baldessari, English painter David Hockney and the experimental films of Kenneth Anger.


Ed Ruscha, Back of Hollywood, 1977. Collection MAC Lyon


Portraits by photographer Catherine Opie (1991) rub shoulders with the collages of Paul McCarthy, an artist who got the world talking with the installation of his giant green anal plug titled “Tree”, at Place Vendome in Paris in 2014.


“Heavy stories told with a lightness”

The younger generation have also been deconstructing the myth. Ryan Trecartin and Lizzie Fitch (Plaza Point 2009) who were featured during the Biennale de Lyon in 2003 have been shaking up the furniture of Californian Charle Eams. Nicole Miller will be presenting a film which includes an actor, spitting image of Jimi Hendrix and playing the role of Nina Simone which touches upon the controversy surrounding the actress that she was “not black enough. “This actor can normally be found on Sunset Boulevard” explains the artist.

Her partner on stage, Martine Syms, 29 years old, youngest participant in the exhibition has installed a video showing her at the dentist, anaesthetised by laughing gas, the fault of health insurance. “These are tough tales but all told with light heartedness” Thierry Raspail says.



Take the time to read

Accompanying the works of the 34 artists are 138 texts written by 80 different writers from America, France (Romain Gary and Jean Rollin) and Great Britain. These works address Los Angeles and California in 1966, days spent in the midst of poems, crime fiction novels and the press. These excerpts of novels, displayed in french and english, have been edited into a collection produced in two languages by London graphic designers the Zak Group.


“Los Angeles, a fiction”, Musee d’art contemporain, Lyon. F. CROUZET/This is Lyon

“These texts serve to amplify the story told by this exhibition” explains Nicolas Garait-Leavenworth, organiser of the literary aspect of the show. Sit yourself down in in the sofas and armchairs, illuminated by a living room lamp and take the time to read these descriptions of the many facets of Los Angeles, while admiring the artworks. Have a great trip..

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