The first issue of May Revue featured an important essay by Anne Marquez on Godard’s 2006 exhibition at the Centre Pompidou. The exhibition was considered to be a failure by most critics, but Marquez saw in it a radical and free experimentation with the institutional limits of inviting a filmmaker like Godard. By removing temporary exhibition walls and attacking mediation, he at once revealed the dispositifs of projection—that regulate film and video displays—and of communication. Antek Walczak’s film is both an homage to Godard and a satire of the center. Godard is there in every tone, detail, and anecdote of the film, to the point where the paranoid director himself becomes incarnated.
This issue revisits the Centre Pompidou’s past with an essay by Kim West entitled, “‘A Live Center of Information’: The Paris Connection, or, Of What Was Beaubourg the End?” West traces the history of the Centre Pompidou as one of institutional experimentation. Inspired by early 1970s Swedish models of the Kulturhuset and Moderna Museet, West shows how the institution attempted to embody the era’s cybernetic idealism. Its founders aimed to make the museum as accessible as possible and to transform it into a place of open production. This year the institution celebrated its 40th anniversary, with more than forty exhibitions opening across France, most of which borrowed works from the museum’s permanent collection. In the wake of this kind of celebration, the idea here was to examine the becoming of this experimental model.
From there we look to the early 2000s, after the turn of the millenium, when the Elysian Fields center reopened and found new life only to be exhausted in a context of museum and culture-industry transformations dominated by the Tate Modern. London’s consequent gentrification, with conflicting interests of private foundations and public services, has drastically altered the habitus of artists. Certain Centre Pompidou anniversary projects did deal with more historical questions. Most notable was the exhibition Yann Chateigné organized at the l’Onde art center, which reactivated works alongside archival material to reveal some counter-narratives. The anthropologist Philippe Artière’s Bureau des archives populaires is another example. Over several months the office has been collecting stories and anecdotes in diverse formats. It is expected to reappear this fall.