Aug 27 2010 - Nov 21 2010
Caterina Tognon at Palazzo da Ponte, Venezia

Following an invitation by Caterina Tognon, Claire Fontaine presents a work in direct dialogue with the public space and outside the walls of the white cube. Persuaded that there isn’t such a thing as a “good” context, Claire Fontaine - a collective artist living and working in France since 2004 - likes to use the situations and the moments she finds herself in to express a visual comment or to give rise to a problem linked to the use and the abuse of power. Claire Fontaine believes that what is usually called “institutional critique” designates a field of action and contestation now overshadowed by the horror of the contemporary condition, and although she continues to perpetuate the forms of this type of critic, she pushes it towards its limits in a desecrating way.


Thus, on the facade of a residential building in Campo Santo Stefano, a spot in the heart of Venice highly frequented by tourists, the artist will install a neon work whose content is a Bertolt Brecht’s sentence, citied numerous times (even by Theodor W. Adorno), but whose source remains obscure: “Kultur ist ein Palast der aus Hundescheiße gebaut ist” (the palace of culture is built with dog shit).

In direct dialogue with the event of the Venice Architecture Biennial, Claire Fontaine interrogates herself, through Brecht words, on the implications and on the cost of `building' nowadays, stating that culture and the creation of forms, when emancipated from the direct experience of the people who should inhabit them and keep them alive, become nothing but arrogant and gratuitous gesticulations.


Unbuilding, ending on 21st November 2010, pursues in the gallery Caterina Tognon Arte Contemporanea the topic of the construction and the deconstruction of spaces, in both the literal and metaphorical sense. Among the exhibited works the video Counter-poison is the transcription of a journey inside a derelict building. An abandoned theatre of a popular neighbourhood in Glasgow waits patiently, whilst these nocturnal images are being filmed, for the arrival of the bulldozers. Meantime, working class kids, day after day, destroy the stage deserted by the public and burn the empty seats. At night, wild animals use it as a shelter; one can foresee a fox and a pigeon, allegories of the clandestine life within urban spaces. The viewer is left to guess what this descent could be the antidote for.

Currently, the building has been demolished and the only thing that is left of it are these images accompanied by the breathing of the cameraman.

The exhibition features some other works still related to the same space, that has along the years changed more than once its destination. An object trouvé, a “Mecca” light-box, from the time the theatre was used as a Bingo hall and three large photographs, printed on paper, of the interior of same theatre in ruin.


On the evening of August 26, during the opening reception, Douglas Park (U.K. based visual artist, writer and art curator) will make a reading of his text entitled Counter-poison and Nurseryworld, written in response to Claire Fontaine’s works.

Unbuilding is made in collaboration with Marco Altavilla and Paola Guadagnino of T293 Naples.



After lifting her name from a popular brand of school notebooks, Claire Fontaine declared herself a "readymade artist" and began to elaborate a version of neo-conceptual art that often looks like other people's work. Her practice can be described as an ongoing interrogation of the political impotence and the crisis of singularity that seem to define contemporary art today.

Recent solo and group shows include: Economies al Museum of Contemporary Art di North Miami; The Traveling Show, Fundación Jumex, Mexico City; Future Tense, Museo Tamayo Arte Contemporáneo, México, D.F.; Inhibitions, Reena Spaulings, New York; After Marx April, After Mao June, Aspen Art Museum, Aspen; Recessions, Galerie Gabriele Senn, Wien; The exhibition formally known as Passengers: Claire Fontaine, CCA Watti, San Francisco; Changement de Propriétaire, Sorry We’re Closed, Bruxelles; Grey Flags, Sculpture Center in New York, Group Therapy, Museo d’arte moderna e contemporanea, Bolzano. Claire Fontaine works with some of the most prestigious international art galleries, such as Air de Paris and Chantal Crousel in Paris, Metro Pictures in New York, T293 in Naples, Neu in Berlin, Dvir in Tel Aviv, Gaga in Mexico City.