Clément Cogitore lives and works in Paris, FR, and Berlin, DE

Clément Cogitore’s two featured film works initially seem to be, quite literally, worlds apart. In Lascaux (2017), the artist overlays images of butterflies onto found 16-mm film footage from the 1980s documenting the Paleolithic paintings found in the eponymous cave; projected at medium scale, the work is silent, lyrical, even poetic. Les Indes Galantes [The Amorous Indies, 2017] offers a different kind of trip: in this video, a few dozen krump dancers of various races and genders battle each other on a sparsely lit stage to a tune set by Jean-Philippe Rameau, whose 1735 opera, which brought performers of African descent to the French national stage for the first time, gives the piece its title.

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Clément Cogitore, Les Indes Galantes [The Amorous Indies], 2017, HD video, color, sound, 5′26′′, video still, courtesy Chantal Crousel Consulting; Galerie Reinhard Hauff, Stuttgart © Clément Cogitore / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2022

Despite their historical and tonal divergences, both works seek to explore and subtly undermine foundational French fantasies of nature and the “primitive” forged through colonial trade and intercultural encounter, whether unearthed at home or “discovered” abroad. In so doing, Cogitore’s art both recalls and rethinks the operative logic behind the early twentieth-century European avantgarde’s means of visual innovation. For, as the African American video collagist Arthur Jafa wrote in 2003, “Surrealism can be understood as an investigation of the psychic frisson produced by the juxtaposition of incongruent objects (a cow and an ironing board), the paradigmatic example being ‘the black body in white space.’”(1) When considered together, Cogitore’s videos restage this dynamic in the present, suggesting an affinity between the logics of raciospatial dissonance (Les Indes Galantes) and temporal-technological distance (Lascaux) that continue to inform the modern West’s fundamentally divisive conceptions of the group, the other, the aesthetic, and, above all, the human.

Huey Copeland

(1) Arthur Jafa, “My Black Death,” in Everything but the Burden: What White People Are Taking from Black Culture, ed. Greg Tate (New York, 2003), 247.

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Clément Cogitore, Les Indes Galantes [The Amorous Indies], 2017, HD video, color, sound, 5′26′′, video still, courtesy Chantal Crousel Consulting; Galerie Reinhard Hauff, Stuttgart © Clément Cogitore / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2022

Exhibitions

Notturni, 2022, MACRO – Museum of Contemporary Art of Rome, Rome (IT) and Mattatoio di Roma, Rome (IT) (solo)

Crossing Views, in dialogue with Cindy Sherman, 2020, Fondation Louis Vuitton, Paris (FR)

Clément Cogitore (Part I and II), 2019, Kunsthaus Baselland, Basel (CH) (solo)

Les Indes Galantes, 2018, Tabakalera – International Centre for Contemporary Culture, Donostia-San Sebastián (ES) (solo)

L’intervalle de résonance, 2016, Palais de Tokyo, Paris (FR) (solo)