The wide-ranging practice of Maxime Rossi (*1980, Paris, where he lives and works) is chameleonic at its core and subversive in its playful manifestations. He creates unexpected multi-sensorial encounters between the viewer’s intimate and collective prior experiences. These encounters often draw on structural elements from the performing arts such as a music score or a script, in order to expand the potential of the viewers’ engagement and to influence their personal experience. Examples range from Sister Ship (2019), an opera inspired by the figure of the artist Sister Corita Kent, to Père Lachaise (2010-19), in which the artist tied colored-ink pens to the tree branches above Frédéric Chopin’s tomb at the eponymous Parisian cemetery, to produce “wind drawings” atop of Chopin’s musical scores.
“Orchidaceous Extras,” Rossi’s solo exhibition at CCA Tel Aviv-Yafo, unfolds as a participatory experience that can be experienced only through heightened senses. He transforms the Center’s ground floor and overlooking balcony into an active squash club diffused in UV light. On the first floor, the sports club opens into a virtual space through VR: a kaleidoscopic narrative, viewable in 360 degrees, takes as its reference point the “imaginary orchid” that Vladimir Nabokov sketched in pencil in 1969 for the cover of his new latest novel, Ada. The “perpetual play” that Rossi creates is constructed as an animated cut-up exploring the metamorphosis of the orchid from a physical manifestation to a digital one. Rossi takes us on a journey through which we follow scientists in an orchid greenhouse, observe particles through an atomic microscope, and join a nighttime procession in a rainforest. A personal database of images newly captured by the artist and his friends, excerpts from online archives, and animated segments, are all sequenced and endlessly remixed in real time, corresponding to the viewer’s movement. Originating from the life cycle of the imaginary orchid, the storytelling interlaces botanical exploration and impromptu associations, inviting the viewer to an intimate meditation on the interconnectedness of nature.
As one travels across the physical environment and the virtual space, a generative sound-work initiates an open score. Installed on the balcony connecting the Center’s two galleries, the score merges the sounds of the bouncing squash balls and squeaky shoes – in motion in the squash court on the ground floor directly below – with the silent movements of those experiencing the VR on the first floor. Simultaneously physical and imaginary, experiential and participatory, the project situates the viewer in different scenarios. The first one, in which the action of the participants playing squash with one another generates a system of unavoidable interactions; the second, in which the experience of the film via VR headset brings intimacy and isolation. When none of these positions is taken, a third scenario emerges: a detached stroll through the space, steered by light and sound, unveils the unattainableness of the full experience. Such a path, orchestrated by the artist, purposely entices the viewer into possible new meanings that are generated by coincidences and seemingly random connections.
“Maxime Rossi: Orchidaceous Extras” is guest-curated by Marie Gautier and is supported by IL.Collection, Fondation Pluriel pour L’Art Contemporain, and Institut Français Tel Aviv. The film is co-produced by CNAP (Centre National des Arts Plastiques, France) and CCA Tel Aviv-Yafo. Hospitality provided by Outset Contemporary Art Fund.
“Maxime Rossi: Orchidaceous Extras,” 2023
Views of the exhibition at CCA Tel Aviv-Yafo
Photo: Daniel Hanoch
Maxime Rossi: Orchidaceous Extras
June 17, 2023
April 20, 2023