Le Grand Balcon : Curatorial Statement

Le Grand Balcon draws loosely on Jean Genets Le Balcon, in which the play’s high porch is a space of contestation between revolution and counter-revolution, reality and illusion. A recurring motif in Genet’s writing, his balcony is a place of perverse acts where representation itself can be perversely troubled.

For Genet (and for many other artists, including Shakespeare) the balcony is also a topos of amorous flirtation: a privileged but ambiguous space that brings lovers closer while keeping them apart. It is a desiring apparatus and a theatrical space that articulates the complex relationship between inside and outside, up and down. The balcony is also subject to a particular regime of visibility, a space where a person can dramatically stage herself, with power and vulnerability on display.

As a brothel, Genet’s Grand Balcon presents a fiercely ironical microcosm of the power elite besieged by revolutionary forces at the gates. In turn, the exhibition Le Grand Balcon enacts Genet’s concern with meta-theatricality and role-playing by unfolding experiences alongside “objects” that often refuse to reveal themselves as truths. As an exhibition, Le Grand Balcon aims to generate experiences that open up a mental space to rethink some of our most pressing matters—our ruinous ecological practices, the accelerating dematerialization of the economy and the evolution towards a global prophetic community turned against itself.

The works selected for Le Grand Balcon betray a preference for “images” of deep historical resonance that materially and sensorially bind us to the here and now. Thus the exhibition enjoins us to reconsider our pursuit of sensual activities: deeply felt pleasures. Can we develop a hedonistic politics? An ethical hedonism? A joyous utilitarianism and an aesthetics of sensual materialism that mobilise both the brain’s and the body’s capacities to their fullest, against the indifference of (mere) knowledge?

Along with Genet, Le Grand Balcon enlists the infamous Marquis de Sade, who adds a human’s right to pleasure to the canon of human rights. His advocacy of pleasure uncovers the paradoxes of the bourgeois principle of formal equality by exposing the fact that fantasy categorically resists universalization. Fantasy is the absolutely individual way in which someone structures her/his “impossible” relation to things.

Our exhibition aims for something quite radical: to develop an unruly and recalcitrant space that gives form to an aesthetics of resistance to the violence of quantification and categorization, and to the violence of naming and controlling. Calling for a materialist and sensualist approach and betting on the liberatory potential of art, this exhibition invites us to rethink both the (im)possibility of an emancipation through pleasure—and its urgency. It summons us to affirm the pleasure we must take—a hedonist politics—far from the easy rewards of consumption. It entreats us to recast the pursuit of sensual pleasures, enlisting pleasure anew to play a decisive role in everyday life and political decision-making.

In the tradition of Genet and de Sade, Le Grand Balcon will be simultaneously playful and fatalistic in its presentation of rooms, corridors and balconies where things can go—very creatively, very constructively, very pleasurably—astray.

—Philippe Pirotte, curator, Le Grand Balcon


Haig Aivazian
born in 1980 in Beirut ; lives and works in Beirut

Njideka Akunyili Crosby
born in 1983 in Enugu, Nigeria ; lives and works in Los Angeles

Knut Åsdam
born in 1968 in Trondheim, Norway ; lives and works in Oslo

Eric Baudelaire
born in 1973 in Salt Lake City, UT ; lives and works in Paris

Thomas Bayrle
born in  1937 in Berlin ; lives and works in Frankfurt am Main

Nadia Belerique
born in 1982 in Toronto ; lives and works in Toronto

Valérie Blass
born in 1967 in Montréal ; lives and works in Montréal

Michael Blum
born in 1966 in Jerusalem ; lives and works in Montréal

Shannon Bool
born in  1971 in Comox, BC ; lives and works in Berlin

Dineo Seshee Bopape
born in 1981 in Polokwane, South Africa ; lives and works in Azania, South Africa

Elaine Cameron-Weir
born in 1985 in Red Deer, AB ; lives and works in New York

Chris Curreri
born in 1978 in Toronto ; lives and works in Toronto

Moyra Davey
born in 1958 in Toronto ; lives and works in New York

Nicole Eisenman
born in  1965 in Verdun, France ; lives and works in Brooklyn

Em’kal Eyongakpa
born in 1981 in Mamfe, Cameroon ; lives and works in Yayoundé, Cameroon and Amsterdam

Liao Guohe
born in 1977 in Kolkata, India ; lives and works in Changsha, China

Judith Hopf
born in 1969 in Berlin ; lives and works in Berlin

Anne Imhof
born in  1978 in Gießen, Germany ; lives and work in Frankfurt am Main


Luis Jacob
born in 1971 in Lima ; lives and works in Toronto

Myriam Jacob-Allard
born in 1981 in Val-d’Or, QC; lives and works in Montréal

Brian Jungen
born in 1970 in Fort St. John, BC ; lives and works in North Okanagan, BC

Hassan Khan
born in 1975 in London ; lives and works in Cairo

Meiro Koizumi
born in 1976 in Gunma, Japon ; lives and works in Yokohama, Japan

Zac Langdon-Pole
born in 1988 in Auckland ; lives and works in Darmstadt, Germany

Tanya Lukin Linklater
born in 1976 in Kodiak, AK ; lives and works in North Bay, ON

Kerry James Marshall
born in 1955 in Birmingham, AL ; lives and works in Chicago

Corey McCorkle
born in 1969 in La Crosse, WI ; lives and works in New York

Nathalie Melikian
born in 1966 ; lives and works in Vancouver and Malmö, Sweden

Joe Namy
born in 1978 in Lansing, MI ; lives and works in in Beirut and Detroit, MI

Shahryar Nashat
born in 1975 in Geneva, Switzerland ; lives and works in Berlin

Camille Norment
born in 1970 in Silver Spring, MD ; lives and works in Oslo

Celia Perrin Sidarous
born in 1982 in Montréal ; lives and works in Montréal

founded in 2012 in Frankfurt am Main
based in Frankfurt am Main

Lucy Raven
born in  1977 in Tucson, AZ ; lives and works in New York

Marina Rosenfeld
born in 1968 in New York ; lives and works in New York

Ben Schumacher
born in 1985 in Kitchener, ON ; lives and works in New York

Walter Scott
born in 1985 in Kahnawake, QC ; lives and works in Toronto and Montréal

Benjamin Seror
born in  1979 in Lyon, France ; lives and works in Brussels

Frances Stark
born in 1967 in Newport Beach, CA ; lives and works in Los Angeles

Luke Willis Thompson
born in  1988 in Auckland ; lives and works in Londres

David Gheron Tretiakoff
born in 1970 in France ; lives and works in Brussels

Luc Tuymans
born in 1958 in Moorsel, Belgium ; lives and works in Antwerp, Belgium

Jacob Wren
born in 1971 in Montréal ; lives and works in Montréal

Haegue Yang
born in 1971 in Seoul ; lives and works in Seoul et Berlin

Xu Zhen
born in  1977 in Shanghai ; lives and works in Shanghai