If Paris were an aquarium, Charly would be its tropical fish, jumping out of the water each night with no one watching. The award-winning fishmonger peddles fish during the day and tours as a drag queen through the French capital’s underground scene at night. Now, for the first time, Charly is crossing the Atlantic to take part in the Despacio performance festival, uniting his many worlds: fresh fish, art performances and queer appearances.
Upon entering Charly’s fish market, situated on a busy Paris street, one quickly observes a universe of dreams and desire: glassy eyes of dead fish stare at you; posters for drag shows paper the walls; a handwritten thank you note from the mayor, Anne Hidalgo, perches alongside his Michelin medal. It’s more than a fish market, it’s a hodgepodge of the various stories life can offer when one's passion is given free reign. It’s a stage, where fish are the props and the clients become the public.
When day turns to night, our fisherman lets his diva emerge, darting like a tropical fish through the underground rivers of Paris. In placing Charly's fish-market at center stage of the festival, Despacio celebrates the grandeur of a man's dreams, desires and duality – each one a stand-in for our own.
On April 29th several international and local artists will turn his shop into an unending stream of performance and fantasy.
From drag shows, musical contributions, theatrical interventions, to long-durational art performances – all will question the roles we tend to play in life, as well as those we tend to ignore. To transgress the rules of society and fashion is to give rise to an inner creativity and break with conformity.
Visitors will bear witness to a real fish-market, one where they can buy fresh fish and see them prepared into meals on-site. For French speakers, there will be plenty of opportunity for conversations with the enigmatic fishmonger. For the non-French speakers, body language will suffice. In Charly's grotto, it's anything goes.
The fish market and performance festival takes place on April 29th 2017 at Despacio. (Facebook Event)
Participating artists: Charly Le Poissonnier, Dino Real, Elyla Sinvergüenza, Javier Calvo, Monsieur Bien, Oscar Ruiz-Schmidt, Señorita Abril, Robertito and more.
Directed by Sandino Scheidegger
This marks the second edition of the festival. It was originally conceived by Sandino Scheidegger for Random Institute and staged in 2014 in Zurich. Credits for drag film: Performer: Elyla Sinverguenza, Camera, Directing and Editing: Guillermo Sáenz, Costume and Styling: Marcus Carmon, Production: Nicholas Blevis & David Torres, Music: Arca - Anoche. Credits for film about Charly in Paris: Camera: Fabian Niklaus, Animation: Raphael Etter, Concept: Leila Hincelin and Sandino Scheidegger. Credits for film about Charly in Costa Rica: Ernesto Varga. Credits for photos of the festival: Juliette Chrétien and Erno Hilarion.
Art history rarely moves in a straight line. Now more than ever, when it comes to a collective notion of Latin American art, there are as many ways to approach it as there are to traversing its nineteen countries and territories. Steering clear of a generalized survey of the region, we choose a more personal path by compiling works from Latin American artists that inspired us throughout our journey over the last decade, bringing to the fore the works, artists, and conversations that we couldn’t possibly forget.
First Day of Good Weather takes as its inspiration and starting point conversations that happened in and around Despacio. While it is true that personal dialogues can result in a filtered perception of reality—the filters as well as the perception being both highly subjective—that same subjectivity seems to be an essential ingredient for a truly independent art space. There are no set guidelines, just a vision that is focused through the discourse of like-minded peers.
The exhibition features artworks by sixteen artists from Central America, the majority of whom have never before shown their work in Germany. Also included are thirteen more Latin American artists who have been at the center of extensive dialogues detailing their profound influence on entire generations of artists, from Mexico’s Rio Grande to Argentina’s Tierra del Fuego.
Spanning multiple genres and ranging in tone from political to humorous, the works transcend the immediate allure of the exotic to reveal the contagious spirit of curiosity. The artistic propositions are often balancing acts between everyday life and what it means to be an artist in Latin American society—a society which has a long history of wrestling with local and global political crises, colonial capitalism, abuse of power, and the struggles of subsisting day to day.
Art is critical thinking—building an awareness of the inner workings of the mind. But art is also making sense of the situations we find ourselves in. It helps us to accept that there is not such a thing as a single current reality, but rather a myriad of perceptions that together comprise our collective reality. The sum of all of these works is, therefore, much more like a fluid conceptualization of Latin America and its art than it is a static definition.
First Day of Good Weather takes visitors back to where everything began: the conversations with artists that sent our thoughts flying into space to return in new and unusual configurations that would culminate in more than fifty exhibitions and projects over the last decade. The exhibition is a voyage of discovery through the artistic territory of Latin America, far off the beaten path of exotic fantasies, dealing instead with specific experiences and contexts that exist in constant states of evolution. We wait, ever watchful, after each rainy season for that first day of good weather to begin our explorations all over again.
Thoughts by Sandino Scheidegger
The group exhibition opens on January 13th and runs through March 11th, 2017 at Sies + Höke in Düsseldorf, Germany.
Participating Artists: Jennifer Allora & Guillermo Calzadilla, Alejandro Almanza Pereda, Iván Argote, Sol Calero, Javier Calvo, Luis Camnitzer, Benvenuto Chavajay, Donna Conlon & Jonathan Harker, Alejandro de la Guerra, Melissa Guevara, Federico Herrero, Walterio Iraheta, Alfredo Jaar, Regina José Galindo, Aníbal López, Teresa Margolles, Adrian Melis, Ronald Morán, Rivane Neuenschwander, Yoshua Okón, Liliana Porter, Naufus Ramírez-Figueroa, Abigail Reyes, Crack Rodríguez, Gabriel Rodríguez, Tercerunquinto, Adán Vallecillo, and Guillermo Vargas Habacuc.
Photo credits and copyright: Images of the art works courtesy of the artist and their respective galleries. Installation views by Achim Kukulies, Düsseldorf.
It’s no secret that some moments slip away into the mental archive forever, while others vanish before we fully sense them. Random Institute presents at Despacio conceptual works spanning the past 40 years by artists who understand how to capture and create ingenious moments that inform our memories and provoke our deepest ruminations.
Sometimes it’s the small, silent moments that tell the story.
Our most fulfilling experiences connect us with what we are really searching for. They lead us to ask, what are we seeking when visiting an exhibition?
This question has generated many answers over time and remains significant today in an ever-changing world of influences and expectations. It is also all the more relevant to Central America, a region with limited outlets for exploring art beyond national museums.
It is the visitor’s responsibility to manage his or her expectations. Interpreting art requires time for personal contemplation. Conceptual artists inspire us to pay attention to fleeting moments, and we at Random Institute feel those fleeting moments may give birth to stories, myths, and in some cases even new realities.
All of the works on display in No One Belongs Here More Than You playfully interpret moments in time. Sometimes they focus on the absence of something during a significant moment, and other times they suggest that the moment is indicative of something greater. Regardless of their differences, each artist activates the viewer’s imagination through his or her work by breathing new life into a handful of moments that will continue to inform what happens next.
Ultimately, we interpret and revisit artworks in the context of time, reminding us that great works of art are living things and exceptionally timeless.