L’Encyclopédie et nous? Oeuvres et vidéo de Ken Aptekar (The Encyclopedia and Us ? Digital Prints and Video by Ken Aptekar), November 15, 2019 – January 15, 2020, in Autun, France, at the Bibliothèque Bussy-Rabutin
About the exhibition
Fake news, demagoguery, bullying and heartlessness dominate political life today. But back in the mid-18th century, Diderot and D’Alembert refused such irrational and dictatorial behavior and published their Encyclopédie (1751-1766). Twenty-eight volumes of commitment to facts, to anti-authoritarianism, rationalism and generosity poured from the presses. Mme de Pompadour, King Louis XV’s mistress, enabled the Encyclopédie to see the light of day. With her, a whiff of feminism seeps into this project, a pointed contrast to today’s sanctioned misogyny. Aptekar’s exhibition in Autun, France, makes a dramatic commentary on today’s shriveled political values and the revolutionary impetus of Diderot’s humane project.
BREAKING NEWS/FLASH INFO (2019), eleven archival inkjet prints 80cm x 80cm, draws on images from plates in the Encyclopédie to heighten awareness of rising threats to knowledge-based reasoning, scientific evidence, and to personal freedom in the face of authoritarian manipulations.
A SHORTER ENCYCLOPEDIA (2003), six archival inkjet prints 57cm x 76.5cm, is inspired by Madame de Pompadour. Although Pompadour managed to convince Louis XV to support the publication of the Encyclopédie, the knowledge it offered the French did not include answers to questions that Aptekar thought might be central to her life. So he created a kind of appendix for her, adapting the artwork of the original publication to his own personal reveries.
The video THREE ACTS dramatizes Aptekar’s transformation into Louis XV, and then into Madame de Pompadour. Filming took place on location in the private apartments of Louis XV and Mme de Pompadour in the Chateau de Versailles and in Aptekar’s Paris studio. “Beyond derision and irony, Ken Aptekar uses this masquerade to address issues of love, ambition, power.”–Anne-Laure Flacelière, MAC VAL Museum.
À propos de l’exposition