Paper trail #2

Le Consortium in Dijon is one of the most arresting contemporary art centres in France. With a small but imposing curatorial team, comprising Franck Gautherot, Xavier Douroux and Eric Troncy along with impressive external associate curators such as Seungduk Kim and Anne Pontégnie, it is a burning core of artistic and intellectual investigation. Each show challenges and foresees – the list of international artists who had their first French exhibitions there is testament to the strength of the curators' vision and commitment. Their interests range broadly from architecture to typography, art to ceramics, music to performance – they work with the best and the boldest.
I am always excited to receive their printed invitations in the post. If I'm not mistaken, these are produced in collaboration with Paris-based design agency M/M, and they are beautiful. I have been collecting them since 2008, and wish I could get my hands on earlier send-outs... They are usually 209mm x 448mm, made of 160-200g off-white paper, folded twice and printed on both sides. One side features a quote, printed each time in a different and elaborate typeface, with varnish-coated black ink. The source of the quote is always different, and the reasons behind the choice remain hidden. These texts differ in every way from the now ubiquitous quotes with which writers now preface their novels/essays/dissertations/articles – they are presented not as contextual mulch anchoring down some other thought, but as one thing, handpicked, to be considered here and now, no matter how obscure or opaque. They therefore open things up, like gigantic decorative punctuation marks falling from an otherwise empty sky. The other side features information on the new exhibition, the title of which is also printed in a new typeface in matt black ink. They are so much more than just a record of each show. The identities of the artists' work are not the driving force behind the invitation design.  More than one show will often be present on the information side of the sheet – the visual identity therefore is that of a moment in time, one particular stretch of shows, without that identity forcing any kind of thematic grouping. There is no didactic explanation offered, no artificial hegemony, no coercive meaning. All of this serves only to make you wonder, question, think – and look. You go to a show at Le Consortium to look at art.
Here are some examples (click to enlarge).

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