55 Walker Street, New York
November 9 – December 8, 2018
Hours: Tuesday - Sunday, 10am - 6pm
Opening November 9, 6-8 pm
(Song Cycle no. 3)
texts by Laura Cottingham & Nick Irvin
10 ½ × 6 ¾ inches, 16 pages, b&w with color plates and cover
Edition of 100
for a copy, email email@example.com
In the 1994 video Un grand saignement, SVP, Bruno Pelassy’s handheld camcorder fawns over a trembling chorus of creatures, first one at a time and then in groups. These are some of the “Bestioles,” an open-ended series of untitled animatronic sculptures made by Pelassy starting in 1994 and up to his death in 2002. Each Bestiole began with a store-bought mechanical toy, which Pelassy would then strip of surfaces and give its plastic skeleton new, alien flesh, lovingly sewn together.
Functionally, Un grand saignement, SVP (in English, something like “A Great Bleeding, Please”) is exhibition documentation. It captures an installation, with the same title, of Bestioles throughout a dilapidated apartment on the outskirts of Paris, referred to as “Chez Valentin.” It’s hard to draw a confident line around what constitutes the ‘exhibition’ here, and what’s simply a squat: it’s not evident how long this show was ‘up,’ or how many people visited this apartment show, if any, or whether there was anything so official as an opening – or if it’s something that existed primarily for Bruno and his camera. After all, the installation is far from static: over its 37 minutes, Pelassy plays with the Bestioles’ arrangement, tucking them into different corners, placing them onto different surfaces (grimy pink carpet here, faux-marbled linoleum there, the ubiquitous IKEA stool as a plinth) and into different predicaments. It’s practically a playdate – the Bestioles’ name may translate as ‘bugs,’ but they’re pets as much as they’re vermin. One blonde, blobby Bestiole gets trapped in the foyer, bumping between the door and a pile of blankets, and Pelassy’s camera watches it fumble, as though to laugh. At one point, he gathers them all in the cramped, stripped bathroom, like a little party, their chirps and hums adding up to a din like a rainforest. In this sense, the video is also a performance.
Bruno Pelassy (1966-2002) was born in Vientiane, Laos, and he lived and worked in Nice. His estate is represented by Air de Paris, who generously supported this project.