Theater, Garden, Bestiary: A Materialist History of Exhibitions (12 Feb, 2016)

Seminar at the Theatre, Garden, Bestiary Program under the direction of Tristan Garcia and Vincent Normand, February 12 2016, 10:00 @ECAL, Lausanne, Swiss

Recontextualising Les Immatériaux

In 1985, Jean-François Lyotard curated with the design theorist Thierry Chaput the exhibition Les Immatériaux at the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris. The exhibition, or more precisely a “manifestation” according to Lyotard, displayed industrial objects, scientific objects and art works within a scenography from the architect Philippe Delis inspired by Denis Diderot’s Grand Salon.Les Immatériaux exhibits what Lyotard calls the postmodern from the perspective of its material condition in related to language, sensibility, time and resistance. The new materiality, which he deliberately calls immaterial in order to break from the modern conception of it, was the point of departure to conceptualize the exhibition, its aesthetics and its medium/message. It is not only an exhibition that reflects on the immaterial materiality, but that also helps to understand what an exhibition can be under this condition. This talk aims to situate Les Immatériaux within a genealogy of “exhibition as medium” –which involves a redefinition of medium in contrast to the modernist approach of Greenberg – by contextualizing it firstly among the writings of J.F. Lyotard between 1983 (Le différend) and 1988 (L’inhumain), and secondly in relation to the initiative of Pontus Hulten (1973) on the informatisation of museums against the backdrop of cybernetisation.

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