Exhibition / Museum
L'Outrepasseur30 May - 3 Sep 2018
The event is over
The new exhibition devoted by the Centre Pompidou to Jean-Jacques Lebel features 50-odd works and numerous archive documents. In the 1950s, Jean-Jacques Lebel ("the painter of the cross-over", according to his friend Félix Guattari) began to develop an unclassifiable technique. Simultaneously artist, activist, writer, publisher, creator of happenings and organiser of events, he was one of France's most important "go-betweens" in the second half of the 20th century.
11h - 21h, every days except tuesdays
Interview between the Artist and the Exhibition Curator
Nicolas Liucci-Goutnikov - This exhibition of your work at the Centre Pompidou opens exactly fifty years after the events of May 1968. How do you see this non-coincidental coincidence?
Jean-Jacques Lebel - Edgar Faure, minister of education in the not-at-all-revolutionary Pompidou government, displayed a certain lucidity when he described the May events as a “vast happening”. In this, he radically disagrees with the ideologues of Work, Family and Homeland for whom “nothing happened in May ’68”. In the kingdom of the blind, the one-eyed man is a minister. So it’s not altogether an accident that the Centre Pompidou should give me an exhibition on the fiftieth anniversary of what was for thousands of dissidents, myself included, the most intense experience of our lives. Let’s be frank: this exhibition, limited in scope and staged on the eve of my eighty-second birthday, contrasts with, or indeed stands in radical opposition to, any state-sponsored commemoration, funereal by definition, like the knife without a blade that is missing its handle talked about by Lichtenberg, the Enlightenment philosopher whom I take as my standard-bearer. For there is obviously an irreducible incompatibility between the historic sociocultural rebellion of May and any official museum institution whatever.
NLG - It’s to you that Europe owes its first happenings. What was their significance in the context of the 1960s?
JJL - Unlike those of our peers on the other side of the Atlantic, the happenings that my friends and I organised in Europe in the years before May ’68 were revolts against the moral order, against the dictatorship of the commodity, against all self-censorship in matters of sex and politics. We rejected the art market and all academicism, “committed” or otherwise. We wanted to express and to live something else, to do things differently. And that we did.
NLG - Did the happenings come out of your work as a visual artist, influenced by Dada and Surrealism?
JJL - Visual artist? Filmmaker? Writer? Social critic? Organiser of independent international festivals? Engineer of poly-disciplinary fusions? It hardly matters what’s written in the police file when what you’re concerned with is transdisciplinary collaborations that undermine the law of supply and demand, going beyond it in their deliberate rhizomatic abundance.
in Code Couleur, n°31, may-august 2018, pp. 12-13.