Luca Frei


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Musica Viva Spreads

2016
Quilts, 9 unique pieces
Quilts, 9 einzelne Teile
Ca. 120 x 160 cm each

Installation view / Installationsansicht Artissima Turin 2016

Born 1976 in Lugano, Switzerland
Lives and works in Malmö, Sweden


Education
2000-2002 Malmö Art Academy (MFA), Malmö
1999-2000 Yale University School of Art, New Haven, Connecticut
1997-2000 Edinburgh College of Art (BA Hons), Edinburgh
1992-1997 Centro Scolastico Industrie Artistiche, Lugano

2014

Luca Frei. Thursday followed Wednesday and Tuesday followed Monday and there was Sunday and there was Saturday and there was Friday, Spector Books, Leipzig, Kunsthaus Glarus, Gagarin, 28/2014 (Antwerp)

2013

Hans Rudolf Reust, “Luca Frei — Linien in Zeitflächen,” Kunstbulletin (Zürich)
Slanted Magazine #22 – Art Type , Autumn/Winter, MAGMA (Karlsruhe)
The Architectural Ellipsis, edited by Ruth Estevez and Javier Toscano, Centro Cultural Universitario Tlatelolco (Mexico D.F.)
Ahali: An Anthology for Setting a Setting, edited by Can Altay, Bedford Press (London)
Robert Nelson, “Drawing a line between symbol and meaning,” The Sydney Morning Herald

2012

BRIGHT! Typography between Illustration and Art, MAGMA (Karlsruhe)
A Parliament of Lines, edited by Euan Gray & David Patterson, The City of Edinburgh Museums and Galleries (Edinburgh)
Cynthia Krell, “Luca Frei: The Fifth Business,” Kunstbulletin (Zürich)
The Fifth Business, with texts by Fanny Gonella and Larry Busbea, Bonner Kunstverein (Bonn)

2011

25Pages, edited by Manuel Burgener (Zürich)
No Order. Art in a Post-Fordist Society, Archive Books (Berlin)
Aufruf zur alternative, exh. cat. Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen (Düsseldorf)
Imagine Being Here Now, exh. cat. 6th Momentum Biennale (Moss, Norway)

2010

The addition, edited by Krist Gruijtijsen, JRP Ringier Kunstverlag (Zurich)
Be nice, share everything, have fun, Walther König (Köln)
Histories of the present, Nottingham Contemporary (Nottingham)
Modernautställningen, exh. cat. Moderna Museet (Stockholm)
12 Cairo Biennale, exh.cat. Cairo Biennale Foundation (Cairo)
The secret confession, exh. cat. Edinburgh College of Art (Edinburgh)
Luca Frei: The end of summer, exh. cat. Museo Cantonale d’Arte (Lugano)
"Sin referentes", Santiago García Navarro, Exit express, May (Madrid)
"The sun is the tongue", Jonathan Griffin, Frieze, May (London)
"Isabelle Cornaro, Luca Frei, Falke Pisano", Mark Prince, Frieze, January (London)
"Isabelle Cornaro, Luca Frei, Falke Pisano", Anna Altman, Art in America (New York)

2009

Museum as a medium, exh. cat. MARCo (Vigo) Koldo Mitxelena, (San Sebastian)
"Cornelius Cardew: Play for Today", Michael Hampton, Frieze, November (London)
"Generosity is the New Political", Laura mclean-ferris, Art monthly, september (london)
Dream Politics, issue n 1-2, UKS forum (Oslo)
Temporary urban structures, Urban Pedestals/Förlaget Asterisk (Århus)
Generosity is the New Political, Andrew Hunt, Frieze, September (London)
“Ouverture”, Vincenzo de Bellis, Flash Art, August-September (Milano)
Search for the Spirit, exh. cat. muhka, Antwerp
“Curated”, metropolis m, June (Utrecht)

2008

Cross Section: Glasgow International Festival Of Contemporary Visual Art, exh. cat. (Glasgow)
Lucy Steeds, Art Monthly, July-August 2008 (London)
Chimurenga Vol. 12/13: Dr. Satan‘s Echo Chamber, March (Cape Town)
An interview between Luca Frei and Santiago García Navarro, Lunds Konsthall (Lund)

2007

The so-called utopia of the centre beaubourg - An interpretation, Bookworks (London)

The So-Called Utopia of the Centre Beauborg: An Interpretation
Luca Frei

Appearing under the pseudonym Gustave Affeulpin in 1976, and coinciding with the inauguration of the Centre Beaubourg in Paris, Albert Meister’s fictional text La soi-disant utopie du centre Beaubourg imagines a radical libertarian space submerged beneath the newly erected center-piece of French Culture. In a world turned upside down, the seventy-six storeys submerged beneath the official centre for culture provide a platform for alternative modes of work and creation. Reporting, in sometimes hysterical, sometimes more poetic language, and with tongue firmly in cheek, the narrator recounts the vacillations of free organisation, in a satire that never takes its eye of the main target: state sponsored culture.

This is the first translation and publication of La soi-disant utopie du centre Beaubourg in English, a project undertaken by the artist Luca Frei as an attempt to both revitalise a significant cultural treatise incorporating many elements of Meister’s sociological thinking, and to reflect upon the subjective role of the artist in transferring ideas from one cultural framework and era to another.

Elizabeth Schambelan, “The View from Below”, Artforum, October 2007 (New York)
Mark Crinson, “In the bowels of the fun palace”, Mute magazine, October (London)
Dan Fox, “Imagine Action”, Frieze, October (London)
Caroline Menezes, "Artists imagine action to stimulate change", Studio International, October 2007 (London)

2006

Lars Bang Larsen, “Making room for learning and un-learning; jugglers and public space”, Frieze, September (London)

2005

Istanbul, 9th Istanbul Biennial, exh. cat. (Istanbul)
Alex Farquharson, “Invisible Insurrection”, Frieze, September (London)
Collective Creativity, exh. cat., Kunsthalle Fridericianum (Kassel)

2004

Maria Lind, “Soft and strict strands”, 00tal, #17/18 (Stockholm)
Charles Esche, “Luca Frei”, CREAM 3, Phaidon, (London)

2003

Drucksache, Kunstverein München, Spring 03 (Munich)

Solo and two-persons exhibitions

2015
Hermann Scherchen: alles hörbar machen II, Galerie Barbara Wien, Berlin, Germany
Hermann Scherchen: alles hörbar machen I, Studio Dabbeni, Lugano, Switzerland

2014
L’Economia della Forma, Studio Dabbeni, Lugano, Switzerland

2013
Thursday followed Wednesday and Tuesday followed Monday and there was Sunday and there was Saturday and there was Friday (curated by Sabine Rusterholz Petko), Kunsthaus Glarus, Switzerland
Lygia Clark Pavilion in collaboration with Falke Pisano, Capacete, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

2012
Two Lives, A Bridge, Galerie Barbara Wien, Berlin, Germany
LISTE 17, Basel (solo show with Elastic Gallery, Malmö), Switzerland
Fifth Business (curated by Fanny Gonella), Bonner Kunstverein, Bonn, Germany
Februari, Elastic Gallery, Malmö, Sweden

2011
9 settembre - 29 ottobre, Studio Dabbeni, Lugano, Switzerland

2010
The end of summer, Museo Cantonale d’Arte, Lugano, Switzerland
They stared back at him with an expression of vicious, acrid boredom that trembled on the edge of violence, Balice Hertling, Paris, France
1012 KD, If I Can’t Dance Tonight, Frascati Theatre, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

2009
Swiss Institute, Milano, Italy
Statements, Art 40 Basel (solo show with Balice Hertling, Paris), Switzerland

2008
Watch Out, Studio Dabbeni, Lugano, Switzerland
Ingleby Gallery, Edinburgh, Scotland
Luca Frei: Studies/Play, Lunds Konsthall, Lund, Sweden

2007
Elastic gallery, Malmö, Sweden
Come in, Friends, The House is Yours!, NABA, Milano, Italy

2005
Words & Works & Worlds, Marabouparken Annex, Stockholm, Sweden

2004
To Imagine Action, Studio Dabbeni , Lugano, Switzerland


Selected group exhibitions and projects

2019
Bauhaus Imaginista : Undead, Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin, Germany

2018
Bauhaus Imaginista: Correspondence, National Museum of Modern Art Kyoto, Japan

2017
When My Eyes Saw and When My Ears Heard, Hollybush Gardens, London, UK
Show and Tell, Malmö Konstmuseum, Malmö, Sweden
Fotonoviembre 2017, Tenerife, Canary Islands, Spain
Goya Curtain, Tokyo, Japan
Groundhog Day, SIC, Helsinki, Finland
1977, L‘Onde Théâtre Centre d‘art, Vélizy-Villacoublay, France
Swiss Art Awards Exhibition, Messe Basel, Hall 3, Basel, Switzerland
Murmur, Netwerk Centre for Contemporary Art, Aalst, Belgium
In(de)finiti luoghi. Utopie architettoniche e realtà artistiche, Museo Civico Villa dei Cedri, Bellinzona, Switzerland

2016
Project at "Present Future", artissima, Turin, Italy
Falke Pisano, The value in mathematics – How do we learn? (curated by Anja Casser) Badischer Kunstverein, Karlsruhe, Germany
Zeit verstreichen. Moment und Dauer in der Gegenwartskunst (curated by Patricia Bieder), Kunstmuseum Solothurn, Switzerland

2015
making everything audible, Studio Dabbeni, Lugano, Switzerland
Kilometre of Sculpture, (curated by Andreas Nilsson), Võru, Estonia
Unlearning to Speak, (curated by Thomas Cuckle), Kunstraum, London, UK
Exhibition display for Carla Zaccagnini / Runo Lagomarsino, (curated by Diana Baldon and Nicola Lees), Malmö Konsthall, Sweden
Intérieurs aus der Sammlung des Glarner Kunstvereins, Kunsthaus Glarus, Switzerland
Lokale, (curated by Pia Rönicke and Johanne Løgstrup), Flensborggade 57 ,Copenhagen, Denmark

2014
Exhibition display for El contrato (curated by Bulegoa z/b), AlhóndigaBilbao, Bilbao, Spain
The Influence of Furniture on Love (curated by Gyles Round & Lotte Juul Petersen), Wysing Arts Centre, Cambridge, UK
Ti–Ch: Arte svizzera nelle acquisizioni del Museo Cantonale d’Arte 1999–2014, Museo Cantonale d’Arte, Lugano, Switzerland
HOUSE: Anna Fasshauer, Lubaina Himid, Karl Holmqvist, Falke Pisano & Luca Frei, Belén Uriel, Hollybush Gardens, London, UK
Exhibition display for Keywords, Art, Culture and Society in 1980’s Britain, in collaboration with Will Holder (curated by Grant Watson and Gavin Delahunty), Tate Liverpool, UK
Don’t Embarrass the Bureau, (curated by Matteo Lucchetti) Lunds Konsthall, Sweden
Family, IMO Projects, Copenhagen, Denmark

2013
Victor, A, Judge William, Johannes (de silentio), Constantin, Vigilius, Nicolaus, Hilarius, Johannes (Climacus), H.H., Anti-Climacus et. al, Fotografisk Center, Copenhagen, Denmark
Neo Povera (curated by Harmony Murphy) L&M Gallery, Los Angeles, USA
Drawing Biennial 2013 , Drawing Room, London, UK
Exhibition display for Keywords, Art, Culture and Society in 1980’s Britain, in collaboration with Will Holder, (curated by Grant Watson and Gavin Delahunty) Iniva, London, UK
The Architectural Ellipsis (curated by Ruth Estevez and Javier Toscano), Centro Cultural Universitario Tlatelolco, Mexico D.F.
A Parliament of Lines (curated by Euan Gray), The Pier Arts Centre, Orkney, Scotland

2012
Jahresgaben 2012 , Bonner Kunstverein, Bonn, Germany
Oil on Water Calming Effect (curated by Sandra Vaka Olsen), Skur2, Stavanger, Norway
LandscapesCitiesPeople (curated by Frank Maes), Netwerk, Aalst, Belgium
Around Every Corner, Elastic Gallery, Malmö, Sweden
A Parliament of Lines (curated by Euan Gray), Edinburgh City Art Centre, Edinburgh, Scotland

2011
Homus Economicus (curated by David Bussel), MD72, Berlin, Germany
Be Patient With People Who Stutter (with Niklas Lichti and Felix Meyer), Dingum, Berlin, Germany
Again, A Time Machine, Spike Island, Bristol, UK
Terms of Belonging (curated by Aileen Burns and Johan Lundh), Overgaden, Copenhagen, Denmark
Swiss Art Awards, Basel, Switzerland
Imagine Being Here Now, 6th Momentum Biennale, Moss, Norway
Performing the Curatorial, University of Gothenburg, Gothenburg, Sweden
Aufruf zur Alternative (curated by Lisa Schmidt), Schmela Haus, Düsseldorf, Germany

2010
Exodus (curated by David Bussel), International Project Space, Birmingham, UK
Exhibitions (curated by Tessa Giblin), Project arts centre, Dublin, Ireland
Fun palace (curated by Tiphanie Blanc, Yann Chateigné Tytelman, Vincent Normand), Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, France
Modernautställningen (curated by Fredrik Liew, Lisa Rosendahl, Gertrud Sandqvist), Moderna Museet, Stockholm, Sweden
The secret confession, Edinburgh College of Art, Edinburgh, Scotland
12th Cairo Biennial, Cairo, Egypt
Kunst und Architektur – Zwei Wettbewerbe, Kunst-Raum des Deutschen Bundestages, Berlin, Germany
Edstrandska Stiftelsens Stipendium, Malmö Konstmuseum, Malmö, Sweden
Les Interlocuteurs (curated by Mathilde Villeneuve), La Vitrine, Paris, France
Learning Machines (curated by Marco Scotini), NABA, Milano, Italy
Display 2, Studio Dabbeni, Lugano, Switzerland
From dusk till dawn (If I Can’t Dance, I Don’t Want To Be Part Of Your Revolution), Van Abbe Museum, Eindhoven, The Netherlands
The Incidental Person (curated by Antony Hudek), Apexart, New York, USA
Berlin-Paris, un échange de galeries, Galerie Neu / Mehringdamm 72, Berlin, Germany
The sun is the tongue, the shadow is the language, Ancient & Modern, London, UK

2009
Exhibition display for Cornelius Cardew: Play for today (curated by Grant Watson), The Drawing Room, London, UK
Exhibition display for Textiles (curated by Grant Watson), M HKA, Antwerp, Belgium
Generosity is the new political (curated by Lotte Juul Petersen), Wysing Arts Centre, Cambridge, UK
Swiss Art Awards 2009, Basel, Switzerland
An Unexpected Thought, Function in Contemporary Art (curated by Lene Crone Jensen, Stina Edblom), Göteborg Konsthall, Göteborg, Sweden
In May (After October) (curated by Tim Saltarelli), Gallery TPW, Toronto, Canada
It’s Not for Reading, It’s for Making, FormContent, London, UK
Gennariello, Balice Hertling, Paris, France
Come in, friends, the house is yours! (curated by Anja Casser), Badischer Kunstverein, Karlsruhe, Germany
Exhibition display for Search for the Spirit (curated by Grant Watson), MuHKA, Antwerp, in collaboration with Cultuurcentrum Mechelen, Mechelen, Belgium
Audio, Video, Disco (curated by David Bussel), Kunsthalle Zürich, Zürich, Switzerland

2008
After October (curated by Tim Saltarelli), Elizabeth Dee Gallery, New York, USA
Democracy in America: The National Campaign (curated by Sofía Hernández Chong Cuy), Creative Time, New York, USA
Archaeology of Longing (curated by Sofía Hernández Chong Cuy), Kadist Art Foundation, Paris, France
A Town (Not a City) (curated by Giovanni Carmine, Thomas Boutoux), Kunsthalle Sankt Gallen, Sankt Gallen, Switzerland
Three interventions by Luca Frei, Marine Hugonnier and Sean Snyder (curated by Sören Grammel), Grazer Kunstverein, Graz, Austria
Museum as a Medium (curated by Pablo Fanego, Pedro de Llano), MARCO Museo de Arte Contemporaneo, Vigo, Spain
Object, The Undeniable Success Of Operations (curated by Krist Gruijthuijsen), SMBA, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Exhibition display for Disobedience (curated by Marco Scotini), Nottingham Contemporay, Nottingham, UK
Art Cannot be Untaught (curated by Caterlian Riva), La Rada, Locarno, Switzerland

2007
Modelle für Morgen (curated by Nicolaus Schafhausen, Vanessa Joan Müller, Julia Höner), EU Kunsthalle, Cologne, Germany
Imagine Action (curated by Emily Pethick), Lisson Gallery, London, UK
Der Prozess (curated by Marco Scotini), 3rd Prague Biennial, Prague, Czech Republic
Cities from Below (curated by Marco Scotini), Fondazione Teseco, Pisa, Italy

2006
Open Studios, IASPIS, Stockholm, Sweden
Protections (curated by Adam Budak), Kunsthaus Graz, Graz, Austria
Jump Into Cold Water (curated by Katarina Schlieben, Sønke Gau), Shedhalle, Zürich, Switzerland
Grazer Kunstverein, Graz, Austria

2005
Publish and be damned, Casco, Utrecht, The Netherlands
9th Istanbul Biennial (curated by Charles Esche, Vasif Kortun), Istanbul, Turkey
Collective Creativity (curated by WHW), Kunsthalle Fridericianum, Kassel, Germany
The Invisible Insurrection of a Million Minds (curated by Chus Martinez, Lars Bang Larsen, Carles Guerra), Sala Rekalde, Bilbao, Spain

2004
Normalizacija (curated by WHW), Galerija Nova, Zagreb, Croatia
Balancing Acts, Centre Culturel Suédois, Paris, France

2003
Total Motiviert (curated by Maria Lind, Sören Grammel, Katharina Schlieben), Kunstverein München, Munich, Germany
Everything was to be done. All the adventures are still there, Arbetsrum, Rooseum, Malmö, Sweden

Open metaphors by Elio Schenini

The So-Called Utopia of the Centre Beauborg: An Interpretation by Luca Frei

Luca Frei – Lineien in Zeitflächen von Hans Rudolf Reust (pdf)

Making room for learning and un-learning; jugglers and public space
by Lars Bang Larsen (pdf)


Open metaphors
Elio Schenini

Written in occasion of the exhibition The end of summer
Museo Cantonale, Lugano, 2010.

On observing Luca Frei’s most recent works - concise, essential and close to the zero degree of iconicity - the words and thoughts unceasingly follow each other: they interweave, are superimposed and pile up on each other, looking for pretexts and opportunities everywhere in the difficult attempt at giving a sense to what is perceived by the eye. Paradoxically, it is precisely due to their formal aridity, their rejection of whatever rhetorical artifice and every type of spectacularisation or pleasingness, to their drawing back to the boundaries of the expressible, that Frei’s works in the mind of the spectator - works for which it is difficult to find the immediate and gratifying comfort of a prêt-à-porter explanation - prime a proliferation of associations, an hermeneutic tour de force of uncertain outcome. If the activation of the spectator and his/her involvement in the creative process are objectives that the artist knowingly and purposely looks for, a constant element of his work from the very beginning, at first sight at least this attitude and approach today seem to have suddenly changed direction and work modality.

In documenting the works and exhibition projects which Luca Frei has carried out over the past three years, as this publication proposes to do, it is consequently the case to start out from the end: not in order to delineate their development from an evolutive viewpoint, following their chronological succession, but by ‘overturning’ the perspective and beginning from the analysis of the last ‘chapter’ - significantly entitled The End of Summer - in order to verify continuities and divergences with respect to his earlier production. We think that only in this way is it possible to elude the schematism of consolidated critical readings and the easy pigeonholing of his work within the sphere of a tendency that has been diffused in the contemporary art world during the past few decades and characterised by the application of alternative pedagogical strategies and free educational models in the more general picture of relational art as theorised by Nicolas Bourriaud at the close of the 1990s.

The incipit of this last chapter which unfolds in the rooms of the Ala Est of the Museo Cantonale d’Arte is made up of a series of shower handles in chromed steel arranged on the wall like linear geometrical vectors in such a way as to form a sort of “grammar”. Obviously not a normative grammar, and not even a descriptive one. Rather, it is the attempt at imagining a grammar of the possible which encourages a subversion of consolidated norms and habits to also - and perhaps in the first place - be practiced in the field of corporeity, the primary place in which individual identity is socially constructed. This appearance of the theme of the body, something completely new in Frei’s production, is to be found in another work in this exhibition: in this case a parallelepipedon with a finishing similar to that of a piece of industrially-produced furniture, painted white and open on its upper side, which inside contains an oval bathroom mirror that is covered with spots and marks that remind us of the ones produced by daily ablutions (traces that refer to the presence of someone, perhaps to the same artist). In leaning over this ‘box’ it turns out that all of our attempts at managing to see our reflection in the mirror are in vain. The only face that it is possible to glimpse on the mirror’s surface is in fact that of the persons who on the opposite side of the parallelepipedon are like ourselves looking for their own reflections. Once again the artist seems to be inviting us to linger on the theme of corporeity as social construction in which subjectivity is incarnate: identity, this work would seem to suggest, is not defined in the meeting of our eye with the reflected image of our corporeity, as narrated by the myth of Narcissus and as happens to us everyday in the intimacy and seclusion of the bathroom, but in the meeting with another body, in the ‘crossing’ of glances which in the moment they observe know that they are contemporaneously observed.

The physical involvement of the spectator and the dynamics created between the work, the spectator and the surrounding space that characterise this work are also to be found in other works presented in this exhibition. The enormous orthogonal black grid which looms over us, threatening in the room, precariously resting on one of the beams that support the ceiling, on the one hand interferes with our perception of the space and of the other works and, on the other hand, forces us to circumvent it in order to be able to continue our way through the exhibition. In whatever way we wish to interpret this grid - perspective grid, normative structure, principle of authority, modernist vestige? - its menacing presence nevertheless appears to be attenuated by the provisional nature of how it is positioned and by way of its fragmentariness.

The simple strip of white adhesive tape ‘glued’ onto the floor at its side in its turn creates a dynamic tension in the exhibition space, not only in relation to the architectural structure of the orthogonal grid but also with respect to the movements of the spectator, establishing a sort of imaginary boundary and at the same time indicating a route to follow which, as suggested by the work’s title, can never be perfectly straight.

The rectilinear course of the strip of adhesive tape is contrasted by the circular one which is determined - at least this is what we seem to be able to deduce - by the movement of a cord that we now see hanging, nailed at the centre of a circle drawn in pencil on the wall. Once again we are faced by the trace of a bodily presence, a sort of tautological residue of a performative act. In the contrast between the sinuosity of the limp cord and the rigid line of the circle’s circumference, this work talks to us about time, about the fulfillment of a movement, the fatigue of a dynamic that doesn’t manage to come out of itself. Although it also talks about the relationship between absolute and contingent, about the need for imagining new forms, about escaping the repetitiveness of gestures, about an end and a beginning. As in all of his most recent production, however, also in this case the artist’s work takes on the form of an open metaphor in which the extreme abstraction and rarefaction of the terms that compose it invite the spectator to set out on a mental journey, at the end of which it is up to the same spectator to decide whether to close the metaphor or else leave it open to the multiplicity of possible meanings. In the same way, by titling this exhibition that opens at the close of the summer with almost tautological simplicity - The End of Summer - Luca Frei limits himself to evoking an atmosphere, revealing the limitless space of interpretations to the spectator.

This keeping open the semantic potentialities of artistic language to the greatest extent possible - something which is confirmed in the frequent use of Untitled- is perhaps the essential datum that emerges from the analysis of the artist’s most recent works together with a more frequent use of the readymade, of the dialogue between figurativeness and abstract geometrical or architectural structures, and of a new interest in the subjective dimension. Elements which we emblematically find condensed in the only figurative image to be found in the exhibition: a large photocopied blow-up of a black & white photograph applied in a temporary way on a rectangular wooden structure open at its sides. The mysterious luminous object which the figure represented in this “poetic” image seems to hold in its hands gives rise to a play of references and evocations with the real light of the neon that is emitted from inside the supporting structure. In being duplicated and mirrored, this works acts as counterpoint to all the others and almost appears as a declaration of poetics, due to that invitation to look at the real with the eyes of poetry which it seems to suggest.

If, on having analysed this exhibition, we then turn our eye to the artist’s previous works, then we in fact realise that in moving beyond the programmatic rigidity of his initial “relational” works Luca Frei’s research has, in recent years, been carried out with extreme coherence in the name of Pasolini’s aspiration to poetry as “real agency”. An agency that coincides with the metaphorical opening of language to the spectator’s infinite interpretative possibilities.


The So-Called Utopia of the Centre Beauborg: An Interpretation
Luca Frei

2007

Appearing under the pseudonym Gustave Affeulpin in 1976, and coinciding with the inauguration of the Centre Beaubourg in Paris, Albert Meister’s fictional text La soi-disant utopie du centre Beaubourg imagines a radical libertarian space submerged beneath the newly erected center-piece of French Culture. In a world turned upside down, the seventy-six storeys submerged beneath the official centre for culture provide a platform for alternative modes of work and creation. Reporting, in sometimes hysterical, sometimes more poetic language, and with tongue firmly in cheek, the narrator recounts the vacillations of free organisation, in a satire that never takes its eye of the main target: state sponsored culture.

This is the first translation and publication of La soi-disant utopie du centre Beaubourg in English, a project undertaken by the artist Luca Frei as an attempt to both revitalise a significant cultural treatise incorporating many elements of Meister’s sociological thinking, and to reflect upon the subjective role of the artist in transferring ideas from one cultural framework and era to another.

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