The Fruitmarket Gallery is proud to announce the first collaboration between Scotland’s two major public contemporary art spaces. An exhibition of the finest international contemporary art selected from France’s ‘Fonds Régionaux d’Art Contemporain’ (FRACs), Somewhere Everywhere Nowhere is presented simultaneously at The Fruitmarket Gallery and Dundee Contemporary Arts and is a major event within Britain and France’s calendar of celebrations to mark the centenary anniversary of the ‘Entente Cordiale’.
Somewhere Nowhere Everywhere is an exhibition selected from the holdings of five of the FRACs, the FRACs du Grand Est – Alsace, Bourgogne, Champagne-Ardenne, Franche-Comté and Lorraine. In recognition of the FRACs’ particular status as regionally-based, national institutions with an international remit, and the fact that their collections are often tied to a locale but are without a permanent ‘home’, the exhibition highlights notions of place, space and context.
The works presented are in a wide range of media including film, photography, sculpture and video, with subjects from landscapes to interiors, some of which have never been seen previously in the UK.
Reflecting the great richness of the FRACs’ collection, the exhibition includes works by major French and international figures – Lothar Baumgarten (Germany), Alighiero e Boetti (Italy), Martin Boyce (Scotland), Willie Doherty (Northern Ireland), Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster (France), Douglas Gordon (Scotland), Pierre Huyghe (France), Thomas Struth (Germany), Hiroshi Sugimoto (Japan) and Jeff Wall (Canada) among many others – and offers an inspiring vision of the breadth and quality of contemporary art being collected.
The FRACs were set up in 1983 to collect, commission and present the art of our times. Since their inception, they have mapped out a territory for contemporary art in France as resolutely international as it is local. With more than 15,000 works made by more than 3,000 artists held in the 23 FRACs, they now provide an invaluable record of the recent history of contemporary art.
Highlights of the exhibition in The Fruitmarket Gallery include three photographs of industrial sites in Lorraine, photographed with the rigorous objectivity and impersonal beauty that made the photography of Bernd and Hilla Becher so influential on succeeding generations of artists. Their influence is manifest in Willie Doherty’s two photographs of inexplicably traumatised suburban landscapes – a mattress abandoned on waste ground, a lawn glimpsed through a shattered window – introduce the notion of narrative into photography, albeit a narrative whose resolution remains frustratingly out of reach. Jeff Wall’s Milk, a cibachrome photograph of a man holding an exploding carton of milk mounted on a huge light box, hovers somewhere between the intimacy of a shared moment and the attention-grabbing immediacy of a billboard advertisement.
Still photography is joined in the exhibition by video and sculpture. Chen Zhen gathers bits of urban detritus into an industrial-looking glass case to make his Land-Objectscape. Didier Marcel’s Untitled (destroyed architecture) plays with our expectation that an architect’s model should give form to a building in the process of being built rather than, as is the case here, demolished. Erwin Wurm’s Ilk projects a film of a pair of cardboard boxes in a gallery space onto a pair of cardboard boxes in a gallery space. Douglas Gordon’s Predictable Incidents in Unfamiliar Surroundings is a compilation of fragments of taken from the famous sci-fi TV series ‘Star Trek’, each showing Captain Kirk locked in a passionate embrace with a different woman in a different place. Andrea Fraser’s Little Frank and his Carp, in what must be the ultimate expression of the contemporary art museum as a tourist destination in its own right, shows a visitor responding somewhat over-enthusiastically to an audio-guide’s description of the sensuous muscularity of the Guggenheim Bilbao.
Impressive, intriguing and engaging, this exhibition offers a taste of what public collections of contemporary art can be. It coincides with current debate in Scotland over the role that collecting institutions can play in the encouragement and development of art, artists and audiences. The FRACs, with their astute understanding of the importance of an international perspective with local flavour, offer a model for one, highly successful, way of achieving this.
‘This is a timely exhibition, showcasing one of the most visionary national collections of contemporary art that offers a great example for us in Scotland. It has been wonderful for The Fruitmarket Gallery to work together with Dundee Contemporary Arts, and this exhibition represents the start of what we hope will be a long-lasting creative partnership between the two institutions.’ (Fiona Bradley, Director, The Fruitmarket Gallery)
A new publication documents the exhibition. Published by The Fruitmarket Gallery and Dundee Contemporary Arts in association with the FRACs and Collections san Frontières. It includes essays by Beatrice Josse, Director of the Frac Lorraine, Susan May, Curator of Arts Council of England Collections, Fiona Bradley, Director of The Fruitmarket Gallery and Katrina Brown, Curator and Deputy Director of Dundee Contemporary Arts.
Note to Editors
The Entente Cordiale Scotland programme is part of the wider festivities being organised by the French and UK governments, to commemorate the signing of the Entente Cordiale on April 8, 1904. Scotland is conducting its biggest programme of overseas promotion and exchange since devolution. With a history of political, economic and cultural affinities dating back over 700 years, to the Auld Alliance of 1295, Scotland and France continue to enjoy a warm relationship today.
It is hoped the celebrations will cement and build on these links, across the fields of trade and investment, science, the arts, education, sport and local communities to forge a new alliance for the 21st century.
Education and Events
For full events programme, please refer to pdf attachment.
The exhibition continues at the Fruitmarket Gallery until Sunday 28 November.
The exhibition at Dundee Contemporary Arts runs from 16 October – 5 December.
The exhibition at The Fruitmarket Gallery is supported by the Scottish Arts Council Lottery Fund.