Jean Genet

16 Jul 2011 - 02 Oct 2011

Marc Camille Chaimowicz; Emory Douglas; Latifa Echakhch; Alberto Giacometti; Mona Hatoum; The Otolith Group; Lili Reynaud–Dewar, and others.

This summer Nottingham Contemporary presents a major group exhibition reflecting on the life and art of Jean Genet – one of the most celebrated French novelists and playwrights of the 20th century, and probably its most scandalous. He led several lives but remained a writer in revolt.

Orphan, prisoner, deserter, vagabond, prostitute and petty thief, Genet turned brutal, abject experience into exalted and sexually feverish poetry – ’The Miracle of the Rose’ (1946) describes life in a penal colony.

By the late 50s he was writing absurdist, political theatre that attacked colonial oppression. His final book, Prisoner of Love, published posthumously in 1984, is an extraordinary memoir of the years he spent living alongside the Palestine Liberation Organisation and campaigning with the Black Panther Party.

The first half of the exhibition (a collaboration with Norwich Gallery) is centred on a new film and installation by Marc Camille Chaimowicz. At this period Genet was discovered by Jean Cocteau and lionized by the cultural avant–garde of post–war Paris.

Chaimowicz’s new commission takes this younger Genet as its subject matter. Much of his sculpture takes the form of furniture and interior décor that creates the atmosphere of a strange, private daydream. Major works by the great sculptor Alberto Giacometti – including his portrait of Genet from the Centre Pompidou –will be shown within the environment of Chaimowicz’s work, which will also include Genet artefacts and works by other guest artists. Giacometti was a friend of Genet and painted him several times.

The second half of the exhibition is devoted to the late, political Genet, and features contributions by an exciting younger generation of artists: amongst them Lili Reynaud–Dewar, Latifa Echakhch, The Otolith Group and Mona Hatoum. It also includes work by Emory Douglas, who was Minister of Culture for the Black Panther Party.

Supported by Henry Moore Foundation, Fluxus (Franco–British Fund for Contemporary Art), and Arts Council England.

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