The Visitants: A Vision of Guillermo Kuitca on the Collection of the Cartier Foundation for Contemporary Art opened recently ago at the Kirchner Cultural Centre. The former post office challenged Kuitca, as he later confessed, in creating a unified exhibit, which is why it can be looked at from room to room: the exhibition features 23 different artists, with500 works from the Parisian collection. In the centre, inside the CCK’s socalled Great Lamp, the film Habitants by Artavazd Peleshyan is shown, as well as the installation David’s Living Room Revisited, a collaboration between David Lynch, Patti Smith and Kuitca himself. These two works are the only two that were also part of the 2014 Habitants exhibit, which Kuitca created in Paris for the Cartier Foundation’s 30th anniversary in 2014. Now the collection is travelling, visiting the CCK, inviting visitors to revisit themselves, through the invented French-sounding, but Spanish-based entitled exhibit Les Visitants.
“Who is visiting whom?” seems to be the main question. Who is the other? The art of the French collection is visiting Argentina, while Argentines are visiting the show. Peleshyan’s centrepiece, which gave name to the 2014 collaboration between the Argentine artist and the Cartier Foundation, is a black-and-white film showing wildlife fleeing an invisible threat, most likely us human beings. The theatrical Living Room installation contains an audio of Patti Smith on antelopes observing urban life.
Kuitca seems to be suggesting we should look at ourselves. “It’s all very intuitive,” the artist explained in a recent talk. “I am not a curator, and I think more like an artist on how to make all the connections. I saw a lot of the collection, and sometimes there was just a click, that a certain artwork could work well with another.” The artist-turned-curator for the occasion has made a selection based on colour – there is a lot of black-andwhite photography clashing with Lynch’s bright red living room – and time. Films and slide shows – on large screens – follow photos in a dose that the proposal of the show can be taken in.
Some local visitors may feel estrangement, if they are not used to seeing art by either African or Japanese artists. The photos of geometrical African hairdos by J.D. Okhai Ojeikere are beautiful, and the portraits by Seydou Keïta show the proud posing of Malian men in their often European outfits, while the women remain African, with an evenly majestic glance in their eyes. They know they are looked at by the photographer, and now we, in Argentina, are looking at them – intertwining gazes. Daido Moriyama presents a slideshow of his daily city surroundings, from Hong Kong, Los Angeles, Taipei and Tokyo, on four screens, offering an insight into what is common on those faraway streets. Nobuyoshi Araki is also represented by a slideshow and his famous series of erotic bondage nudes.
The more intimate works in the show work best, such as Rinko Kawauchi’s slideshow based on her family. Family is a concept that we can relate to, as well as the universal theme of loss, as presented by Agnès Varda in the video installation The Widows of Noirmoutier. Love, friendship and sadness are all present in Nan Goldin’s fantastic slideshow The Ballad of Sexual Dependency, which in itself is reason enough to make the trip to the CCK: this sequence of photos of her friends between 1979 and 1995 in New York shows an atmosphere of sexual freedom, in the times where AIDS was on the rise. Goldin places herself among her friends and her pictures are so intimate, that we, as visitors, become part of the scene she portrays, sharing in the permeating joy and pain.
Another highlight is the collaborative presentation of William Eggleston’s Kyoto photo series, to which artist-curator Kuitca responds with watercolour-like works that are in fact Eggleston’s photos processed differently. Hung in a corridor, this series is an invitation to look carefully and recognise similarities and differences.
The question of looking becomes most clear upon entering the room with Tony Oursler’s Dead Eyes Live, where huge fiberglass spheres have oversized representations of eyes projected upon them – with imaginary creatures fleeting in front on them.
Is imagination what we need to see? Can truly looking make us see beyond ourselves and free us from being the visitors? Not all the works selected in Les Visitants can trigger this: some are perhaps too far from what we are able to relate to. But some artworks may be able to achieve just that.