What to See in the City during Paris+

From Mamma Andersson's gothic paintings at David Zwirner to an examination of American mythologies at Bourse de Commerce

BY Andrew Hodgson in Critic's Guides , Exhibition Reviews | 19 OCT 23

Akeem Smith

Lafayette Anticipations

18 October – 20 November

Akeem Smith, Dovecote, 2020
Akeem Smith, Dovecote, 2020. Courtesy: © Akeem Smith 

Akeem Smith’s solo show, ‘One Last Cry’, brings together his two-channel video Dovecote (2020) with four new sculptures made during his recent residency at Lafayette Anticipations. Smith’s practice is founded on a process of collecting and archiving artefacts of Afro-Caribbean cultures, which are here reconstituted in assemblages engaging with the social role of dancehall, funerary practices and the architectures of Jamaican cities. Moving and still images taken from VHS footage of late-1990s dancehalls loop on screens attached to decorative-yet-rusted iron gates. Reminiscent of those found in Kingston’s Waterhouse neighbourhood, where the artist spent time as a child, the gates might also be symbolic of Jamaica’s unsung role in inventing the process of wrought iron production that drove Britain’s industrial revolution.

‘American Mythologies’

Bourse de Commerce – Pinault Collection

13 October –19 February 2024

Mike Kelley, Ectoplasm, 2009
Mike Kelley, Ectoplasm Photograph, 1978/2009. Courtesy: the artist and Pinault Collection

In a large, tent-like structure in the rotunda of the Bourse de Commerce, Mike Kelley’s installation Kandors Full Set (2005–09) – a multitude of uplit glass bottles and miniature cities representing Krypton, the fictional birthplace of comic-book hero Superman – serves as the linchpin of the artist’s extensive retrospective, ‘Ghost and Spirit’, as well as of the museum’s broader, four-artist exploration of American mythology. Elsewhere, ‘Strike’ traces the evolution of Lee Lozano’s painting practice from figuration to abstraction to conceptualism before deconstructing entirely into life-as-art in her journals, which combine manifestos with shopping lists. Mira Schor’s debut exhibition in France, ‘Moon Room’, features the American artist’s fragile masks and dresses produced with pigmented layers of rice paper and inscribed with barely legible writing that correlates to the ecstatic or screaming heads the works portray. Ser Serpas draws on Alejandro Amenábar’s horror film The Others (2001) in her installation I fear (j’ai peur) (2023), in which found-object sculptures are draped with white sheets. Recounting childhood traumas and personal failures, the works in ‘American Mythologies’ provide ample means to reflect on rendering the personal public.

Mamma Andersson

David Zwirner

16 October – 18 November 

Mamma Anderson, Lievre Mort Dehrenstrahl, 2023
Mamma Andersson, Lièvre Mort d’Ehrenstrahl, 2023. Courtesy: ©Mamma Andersson, David Zwirner and Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/Bildupphovsrätt, Sweden 

Swedish artist Mamma Andersson usually draws her viewers into the gothic drama of her paintings through the uncanny presence of human bodies in anachronistic and ornate domestic spaces. However, the artist’s latest series of foreboding vignettes in her exhibition ‘Adieu Maria Magdalena’ is entirely devoid of human presence. The mirror in Still Life Adhuc Vita (all works 2023), for instance, reflects not the painter at work but the bare walls of an empty room, while that in Speculi Oculo II shows a woodland scene that speaks of the forests surrounding the town of Luleå where the artist was born. The juxtaposition of spare washes of colour and broad brushstrokes in oil evidence a broad range of influences – from early 20th century Nordic painting and folk art to French impressionism and East Asian decorative art. 

Zuzanna Czebatul

Sans Titre

14 October – ​​​2 December

Zuzanna Czebatul, A Trillion Threads Still Weaving (Green Veil) (detail), 2023, cotton, polyester, steel, 220 × 165 × 10 cm. Courtesy: the artist and Sans Titre; photograph: Aurélien Mole

In ‘The Lunatic Fringe’, Polish artist Zuzanna Czebatul presents a series of muted tapestries in cool hues punctuated by large mosaic works in marbleized concrete. The tapestries – which picture toes emerging from the bottom of robes, intimate flashes of bedlinen and shod feet treading on a woman’s body – engage themes of sexuality and queerness through a feminist lens. Arranged on the floor, the interlocking pastel-blue and red forms that make up the series ‘Concrete Shapes Of A Random Mosaic’ (all works 2023) must be navigated to follow the fragments of symbolic narrative that hang on the walls. The five tapestries that comprise ‘A Trillion Threads Still Weaving’ feature enlarged, pixelated details from digital reproductions of European courtly tapestries of the Middle Ages, whose vibrancy has been further drained through the processes of digital manipulation and reweaving. 

‘Do You Believe in Ghosts’

Fondation Pernod Ricard

12 September – 28 October 

Eden Tinto Collins, Souvenir Transparent, 2023, 'Do You Believe in Ghosts'. Courtesy: the artist and Ka Libre Ensemble

Showing works by the six young artists nominated for the 24th Fondation Pernod Ricard Prize – selected by Brazilian curator Fernanda Brenner – ‘Do You Believe in Ghosts?’ explores the marginalized and transient. For instance, Pol Taburet’s paintings, such as Rain Appeal (2023), unpack representations of Black culture in contemporary France, while Ana Vaz’s film interrogates the experiences of immigrant railway workers in Paris. Eden Tinto Collins’s audiovisual installations and printed textiles reverberate with the early internet vaporwave aesthetic, while Anne Bourse’s mirrored pink plexiglass maquettes juxtapose futuristic architectures with archaic newspaper classifieds. Alluding to Jacques Derrida’s concept of hauntology from Specters of Marx (1993), this exhibition investigates how hegemonic culture polices society and how we are little more than ghostly symbiotes within it.

Ndayé Kouagou

FRAC Le Plateau

21 September – 18 February 2024

Ndayé Kouagou, 'A Change of Perspective', 2023, installation view. Courtesy: the artist, Frac Île-de-France, Le Plateau, Paris; photograph: Martin Argyroglo

Designed as a sort of ‘choose-your-own-adventure’, Ndayé Kouagou’s first institutional solo show, ‘A Change of Perspective’, presents a series of short films at the end of which viewers must decide whether to move on to the next room or not. Ultimately, however, whichever path they take leads to the same outcome, in which the artist challenges gallery-goers to reflect on the Socratic paradox by uttering the line: ‘Do you even know the question?’ On the walls of the gallery hang key phrases from the videos printed onto metal-effect plates and plastic-coated textiles featuring poems by the artist. Both works prompt us to search for the answers that lie deep within – or, indeed, beyond – our experiences, whether past or present.

Laurent Grasso


14 October – 23 December 

Laurent Grasso, Studies into the Past, 2023, ‘Orchid Island’, installation view. Courtesy: © Laurent Grasso, Perrotin and ADAGP, Paris; photograph: Claire Dorn

Laurent Grasso’s Orchid Island (all works 2023) is named for the volcanic island off the coast of Taiwan that served as one of the locations for the artist’s new black and white film, which features lurching drone shots of lush forests, coastlines and rivers to a disconcerting musical soundtrack. Along the walls of the darkened screening room hang four naturalistic paintings of forested landscapes that nod to 19th-century orientalism (Tropical Landscape, Studies into the Past, Karhuikazo and Cotopaxi). Displayed within darkened and varnished plexiglass casings, the canvases are spotlit, lending the scenes a strange 3D effect. This eeriness is replicated elsewhere in the show: a LED screen plays a spinning pixelated view of a flower (Future Herbarium, Phalaenopsis) while bisected clouds in black marble run across the floor, leading to Studies into the Past – a painting of a tropical island in which a block of landscape, sea and sky appears to have been isolated and encased within a Perspex block. By imposing these futuristic visions onto a 19th-century orientalist landscape painting, Grasso creates seamless yet uncomfortable juxtapositions.

Main image: Anne Bourse, Rooms to cry, 2023, 'Do You Believe in Ghosts'. Courtesy: the artist and Crèvecoeur, Paris

Andrew Hodgson is a writer, researcher and artist based at the École des hautes études en sciences sociales, Paris. He published the book object New Forms of Art and Contagious Mental Illness with New Documents in January 2023.