Carambolages : A Bizarrely Awesome Exhibition

Carambolages exhibition held in the spectacular Grand Palais in Paris is one of the most beautiful exhibitions you will get to see for a long, long time. Do not miss this bizarrely awesome exhibition if you are in Paris between March 2 and July 4, 2016.

This exhibition is stranger than your usual one.

This exhibition is stranger than your usual one.

This isn’t like any other exhibition you have seen, that’s for sure. Here, the visitor is thrown into a scramble of art and artifacts from all over the world are exhibited together. Works are grouped in loosely formed partitions that are based on ideas or forms. This means that you get to see a Giacometti cat exhibited next to a 2,000 year old mouse sculpture from tribal Oceania. It is as if the visitor enters a world created by the free association of the curator’s mind only to shuffle through the most interesting images and objects.

Giacometti cat and the tribal mouse

Giacometti cat and the tribal mouse

Besides the very short introduction in the beginning of the exhibition, there are no texts. Rather than suffocating the visitor with walls of texts, Carambolages points the whole attention on the works themselves: their style, aesthetics, and their ideas.

Visitors contemplating a painting of an allegory of five senses. Yes, works exhibited in this exhibition are strange.

Visitors contemplating a painting of an allegory of five senses. Yes, works exhibited in this exhibition are strange.

One can think of Carambolages as a contemporary art exhibition that is based on ideas, forms and concepts rather than the classic exhibition typology that we are used to see where they present the history and analysis behind the art in an exhibition divided by thematic or chronological sections. Yes, Carambolages looks more like a contemporary art exhibition rather than an art historical one with the only difference that you get to see art from all over the world and from every period.

Visitors discussing a painting of an alchemist.

Visitors discussing a painting of an alchemist.

Works exhibited in Carambolages do not have labels beneath or next to them. Instead there are of small screens on the sidewalls of each partition where you can find out which work is made by which artist, belongs to which period or culture. But these are not touch screens, which means that you have to wait some time for each object to pass as one image comes after another as in a powerpoint presentation. This, I believe, has been a conscious decision since it directs the visitor towards the objects rather than the labels.

The hanging man by Christian Boltanski on left and a chessboard by the infamous Maurizio Cattelan.

The hanging man by Christian Boltanski on left and a chessboard by the infamous Maurizio Cattelan.

You don’t get distracted by labels. Instead, you direct your attention towards the object themselves for interpretation and appreciation. And Carambolages offers such a hilarious collection of objects which make the whole experience all the more impressive and fun.

On this magnetic wall visitors can rearrange the objects displayed in the exhibition in any way they like. It's fun.

On this magnetic wall visitors can rearrange the objects displayed in the exhibition in any way they like. It’s fun.

Carambolages experiments with a new way of exhibition making. The spectator is not offered an artistic or historical narrative but rather a strange and beautiful selection of works that play on the imagination and interpretation of the visitor. This exhibition is a must-see for everyone interested in art as it offers a whole new way of exhibition making that steers the spectator to appreciate forms, aesthetics and the creativity.
Yaman Kayabali

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