CLÉMENT COGITORE. The Evil Eye. 22.11.2019 – 20.12.2019 

Press Release
Exhibition Views

english / deutsch

With The Evil Eye the young French filmmaker Clément Cogitore won the coveted Marcel Duchamp Prize at the Centre Georges Pompidou in 2018, – only one of many international prizes this artist has already been awarded –, including the nomination for the César for best first film, and several nominations at Cannes Film Festival, 2015. The Galerie Reinhard Hauff is proud to present The Evil Eye for the first time in Germany and to offer a Stuttgart audience the exceptional opportunity to see this technically ambitious and outstandingly high quality film.

The Evil Eye is a high tech psycho thriller of eroto-comatose lucidity questioning the future of humanity. The belief systems of mankind take the female – body and spirit – as the principal source of Evil, and seduction as its soft power. Clément Cogitore’s film – carried exclusively by female bodies and voices – uses multipurpose videos bought by the artist from Getty’s or Shutterstock’s gigantic image bank catalogues of stereotypes like "Lonely Woman" or "Beauty Girl". These images are used for selling a product, an ideology, dream, an identity, an identification, a hope, an ideal. Not a personal story. Advertising is a powerful language loaded with glossy, photo-shopped female aesthetics as that sells better. But it’s usually a one-way language of "Buy This", and that language is not used to talk about other issues. Cogitore, however, finds a way to chain unrelated stereotype images of slow motion gestures, lifeless, artificial beauties together through his own fictional narrative incorporating fragments from the Apocalypse of St. John, Dante’s Inferno and other ominous prophesies or warnings. These are sung and read in the film by voices from the other side, from deep space, from across time. With this narrative he takes us to a place of unexpected emotions – to a place of beaming alternative facts. The viewer is sucked into this apocalyptic narrative addressing a humanity on the brink of an (evil?) post-truth reality.

The identification numbers of each purchased image remain in the image and give "a rather totalitarian dimension to the whole", as Cogitore says. Evil is perhaps also in the realm of the totalitarian. Maybe we should think about that.
Marketing databases are dominated by female images. Beauty sells better. Cogitore and the commercial makers of such images use high tech methods to further exaggerate the impersonality and alienation of postproduction perfection. That achieves the scary, totalitarian anonymous which is all flat and one dimensional. By reversing the post production process from perfect, iconic, static, soul less anonymity and generality, Cogitore tries to take the viewer back to traces of the individual, identity versus anonymity, to the living body which at one point was actually physically there, in front of somebody’s camera. "Between alienation and transgression is a tension that interests me" says Cogitore, and film is a very powerful medium to capture it.

The series of photographs
The Evil Eye (stills) also shown in the exhibition is a collection of stills Cogitore selected from the video – female faces superimposed on corridors lined with endless blocks of the huge data servers storing these same faces in the form of digital data. The figure – the guest – thus seem to haunt as a spirit the original resting place or confinement of its host.

This text is based on an interview with Clément Cogitore by Dr. Ines Goldbach, Director of the Kunsthaus Baselland, on the occasion of the presentation of the film there in June, 2019 (text: Elisabeth Hauff.)

Clément Cogitore (*1983, Colmar) lives and works in Paris. His work has notably been screened and exhibited at the Palais de Tokyo, Paris, the Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, the ICA, London, the Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin, the MACRO, Rome, the Flax Foundation, Los Angeles, the MoMA, New York, the MNBA, Québec, the SeMA Bunker, Seoul, the Red Brick Art Museum, Beijing and the Kunsthaus Baselland, Muttenz/Basel. His cinematographic pieces have been selected and awarded prizes in numerous international film festivals: Cannes, Locarno, Telluride, Los Angeles and San Sebastian. In 2015, his first feature film Ni le ciel Ni la terre was selected at the Semaine de la Critique of the Festival de Cannes, awarded by the Gan Foundation, acclaimed by critics and nominated for the best first film at the César Award. The film was shown 2016 in the Galerie Reinhard Hauff. In 2015 he also won the BAL Prize for Contemporary Art, in 2016 the SciencesPo Prize for Contemporary Art as well as the 18th Fondation d’Entreprise Ricard Prize for Contemporary Art and in 2017 the Prize for artists under 35 years at the Kino der Kunst film festival in Munich. To celebrate its 350th anniversary, the Opéra National de Paris has entrusted Cogitore staging the entirety of Jean-Baptiste Rameau’s opera ballet Les Indes galantes, like his film Les Indes galantes he produced in 2017 and which was premiered at the Galerie Reinhard Hauff. The première of Les Indes galantes at the Opéra Bastille, Paris, was in September 2019. With The Evil Eye, 2018, Cogitore won the Marcel Duchamp Award at the Center Georges Pompidou, National Museum of Modern Art, Paris. Cogitore’s work is represented in several public collections, including the Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, the Fonds national d'art contemporain, Paris, the Fonds municipal d'art contemporain de la Ville de Paris, the FRAC Alsace, Sélesta, the FRAC Aquitaine, Bordeaux, the FRAC Auvergne, Clermont-Ferrand, the MAC VAL Museum, Vitry-sur-Seine, the Musée d’Art moderne et contemporain de Strasbourg, and in private collections like the Daimler Art collection.

You are cordially invited to the exhibition opening with beer and wine on Friday, November 22nd, 2019 from 7 to 10 pm.

With kind support of the Institut Français Stuttgart.