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Crash TestThe Molecular Turn

Nicolas Bourriaud - Crash Test
Catalogue of the exhibition-manifesto curated by Nicolas Bourriaud, which takes as its starting point the integration of the notion of Anthropocene in today's artistic scene: the publication proposes an exploration of the output of a new generation of artists who are working on reality, and doing away with the traditional division between the notions of “culture” and “nature.” The catalogue reviews each exhibited work in detail, and offers an enlightening glossary.
The arts in the 2010s have integrated the notion of the Anthropocene, an era dominated by human activities and their impact on the planet.  Our representation of the world has thus evolved into a kind of between fields otherwise considered separate in Western thinking: the mineral, the animal, the vegetal, the machine, and the human, which seem to constantly exchange properties. In light of this new promiscuity, the traditional Western division between nature and culture gradually loses its pertinence. Crash Test is born from this revelation.
This exhibition gathers a generation of artists who deal with the Real on a molecular level, organizing connections between physical/chemical realities and human cultures.  These artists describe the current world (its societies, its cultures…) by working with the matter that composes it, rather than with strictly social or even personal facts. From this group of heterogeneous fields that are blended today, we also think of the image as a coat that envelops our world—an autonomous atmosphere, a layer of pollution.
The artists in Crash Test thus work with material reality. Whether this reality exists in its most basic or its most synthetic form, it raises the question: does a purely “natural” or purely “human” material still exist? Without adopting a scientific approach, these artists investigate particles that compose the physical universe, chemical compounds and synthetic mixtures. Some artists favour the reduction or pulverization of matter while others value reactions and chemical transformations. These are all then displayed in installations with an experimental nature, from pulverization (the reduction of the visible into basic elements) to solution (the dissolving of elements in a solvent) and finally to precipitation (the formation of molecules from aggregates).
With regard to these radically new approaches, we can speak of a new type of materialism—or analytical realism, which takes note of the West's separation of nature and culture as much as the classic subordination between matter and form, often confused here. A materialism wherein the central question would be: how does a state of matter represent a moment in history?
Nicolas Bourriaud
With Alisa Baremboym, Ivana Bašić, Bianca Bondi, Juliette Bonneviot, Jeanne Briand, Dora Budor, Johannes Büttner, Alice Channer, Caroline Corbasson, David Douard, Daiga Grantina, Roger Hiorns, Agnieszka Kurant, Sam Lewitt, Estrid Lutz & Emile Mold, Jared Madere, Enzo Mianes, Virginia Lee Montgomerry, Marlie Mul, Aude Pariset, Thiago Rocha Pitta, Pamela Rosenkranz, Thomas Teurlai, Artie Vierkant, Phillip Zach.

Published on the occasion of the eponymous exhibition at La Panacée-MoCo, Montpellier, from February 10 to May 6, 2018.

See also Stream n°3 – Inhabiting the anthropocene; T. J. Demos: Against the Anthropocene.
Nicolas Bourriaud (born 1965) is a French curator, theoritian and writer. He was the founder and director of Montpellier Contemporain (MoCo), gathering the La Panacée art centre, the École Supérieure des Beaux-Arts and Hôtel des Collections. He was the director of the École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts de Paris from 2011 to 2015. He was Gulbenkian Curator for Contemporary Art at Tate Britain in London from 2007 to 2010 and founder advisor for the Victor Pinchuk Foundation in Kyiv. He also founded and co-directed the Palais de Tokyo, Paris, between 1999 and 2006, and founded the curatorial cooperative Radicants in 2022. He is the author of the landmark publication Relational Aesthetics, published in 1998, and still inspirational today for many artists, curators, and art professionals worldwide.
Bourriaud's curated exhibitions include The 7th continent, Istanbul Biennial (2019), Crash Test. The Molecular Turn, La Panacée (2018); Back to Mulholland Drive, La Panacée (2017); Wirikuta, MECA Aguascalientes, Mexico (2016); The Great Acceleration, Art in the Anthropocene, Taipei Biennial (2014); The Angel of History, Palais des Beaux-Arts, Paris (2013); Monodrome, Athens Biennial (2011) and Altermodern, Tate Triennial, London (2009), among others. Nicolas Bourriaud was also in the curatorial team of the first and second Moscow Biennials in 2005 and 2007.
Edited by Nicolas Bourriaud.
Texts by Nicolas Bourriaud, Noam Segal, Stefanie Hessler.

Graphic design: Johanna Himmelsbach.
published in February 2018
bilingual edition (English / French)
16,5 x 24 cm (softcover)
272 pages (color ill.)
ISBN : 978-2-490123-01-8
EAN : 9782490123018
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