Unknown Death, an exhibition by Romain Lecornu at PCP16TH


Exhibition view 2 ©️ PCP16TH et GiaxGia studio

Curation: Paul Créange

No waves are breaking on this powder blue beach, resembling both ashes and artificial sand: the floor of Romain Lecornu’s exhibition, Unknown Death, is the first gesture that projects the spectator in this delicate field of morbidity. Sixteen floors above, in Paul Créange’s PCP16TH studio at POUSH, the artist produces this substance with an extinguisher, letting the visitors’ imprints activate it again.

This leitmotiv of deterioration, and the temporality that goes with it, is found in every aspect of the exhibition, which incorporates plastic, fabric and recovered bones (some are real, others aren’t). In the center of the room, the skeleton of a feline arches its back, about to jump from an old yellow chair. Though the body is visibly made of plaster, the skull is from a real cat that the artist found in an alley before undertaking the sordid task of taxidermy. It is perched on the bowels of an office chair, whose scribbled fabric echoes the typography that is found on heavy metal band t-shirts.

This reference to art as dress is found again in a grey sweatshirt pinned to the wall with a sculptural icicle. Its outgrowths, frozen in time, imitate the shape of enoki mushrooms, themselves signals of decay. Stained and ripped apart in places, the sweatshirt is pierced with a star of rhinestones and suspended trinkets. Here and elsewhere, the artist casts an ironic gaze on the aesthetics of tackiness. Fixed on one of the three windows, another cat skull holds a rainbow of plastic sticks in his mouth, those you would use to stir a Piña Colada or a Sex on the Beach. These vestiges of a caricatural Los Angeles or Las Vegas pl
ay on the view of the Boulevard Périphérique, shining with the red flashes of cars racing in the night. Lecornu integrates the cityscape in his exhibition, revealing how we are both accelerating towards the apocalypse, and how we already exist within it.

This overlap of the studio space and the urban space is carried out through a joke that becomes a criticism. On the window overlooking the Sacré Cœur, for instance, the artist has taped an iPhone in front of this touristic photo shoot. Appropriating this strongly referenced view, the object actually blocks most of what would be seen otherwise. As such, Lecornu fulfills one of the PCP16TH’s goals: questioning and setting in motion the issues revolving around artists’ relationship to the objects and devices that surround us. Anxieties linked to waste and anthropocentric degradation are brought to the fore in this exhibition, which presents a set of artifacts that humans have gotten rid of, an unwelcome reminder of our fragility. The only true sign of life in the exhibition is the flame of the candle precariously placed on two neon lights emerging from the wall. Like the sepulchral dust on the floor activated by our footsteps, this piece becomes a performance. Lighting the wick, we encode a gesture both ritual and religious. The intimate interruption of the moment creates the context of a wish and involves the sanctity of a prayer. The imaginative leap of this act is immediately frustrated by the incapacity of holding the candle in place, because its w
ax starts melting right when it touches the neon tubes. These offerings of wax – orange, blue or gray – slip from their support, drip and crumble. This cycle recalls the unknown death announced in the title, like the process of looking after a precious life that we know is condemned, and the honesty of our desire to return and begin again even when faced with an inevitable death.

– Lou Ellingson

Exhibition view ©️ PCP16TH et GiaxGia studio POUSH

Exhibition view ©️ PCP16TH et GiaxGia studio

Exhibition view 6 ©️ PCP16TH et GiaxGia studio POUSH

Exhibition view 6 ©️ PCP16TH et GiaxGia studio

Insomnia 2, left view, 2020 POUSH

Insomnia 2, 2020. Néon, équerre plexiglas, fleur synthétique, bougies diverses, porte clé, transformateur 220v. 45cm x 40cm x 42cm

Exhibition view 3 ©️ PCP16TH et GiaxGia studio OK

Exhibition view 3 ©️ PCP16TH et GiaxGia studio