28/01/2022 – 26/02/2022

Curated by Florent Frizet

When it comes to objects, possession gives law. For this new solo exhibition, Eric Stephany once again undermines the codes of ownership and appropriates a multitude of objects and their contents. 

The circulation of these same objects and of the bodies and the looks that accompany them, politicise all relationships to our environment. The public space, a real field of action where everything could be available to all, is the real matrix of a secret harvest that the artist reveals to us. In contrast to Nicolas Poussin’s painting of Moses and his companions saved from hunger by a mercy that fell from heaven (The Harvest of Manna, 1611), Stephany looks for what lies beneath our feet. These objects are above all links, intermediaries, suggesting by their traces what unites us in everyday life. Whether it is through the ground, a bottle, a light, a language, or even a meeting our bodies, our words and our feelings stumble on the sincerity of the links we create every day.

However the exhibition contains in itself its counterpoint. The wandering inevitably moves  in a much more exclusive and impermeable way towards a progressive deprivation of information, transforming our condition of spectators to that of accomplices. Through this ultimate test of trust, from one individual to another or even from a state to its citizens, Stephany leaves room for a violence hidden within its most visible signifiers.

Finally each interaction would be determined by tacit agreements of which only time would be the judge. Whether they exist to bring us closer or to isolate us, each object carries within it every possibility, every probability. Like Felix Gonzales-Torres’s Perfect Lovers, nothing assures or certifies that we are as immutable as the rock and that our wills will break the chains of chance. On the contrary, we belong to an inaccessible tangent that the artist, by his displacements, comes to transfigure in his works.

Encompassing sculpture, installation, video and performance, Eric Stephany’s practice takes form in a series of inquiries : trained in architecture and aware of the contemporary atomization of notions of context and territory, its practice consists of searching for correspondences between certain type of transitional spaces and equivocal states of mind: a staircase, an astronomical observation tower, a covered passage or an entrance hall, become the places of projection of mixed feelings such as vertigo (Das Berlin Helikoid, 2013), awe, (Awwwe, Jericho, 2016), anticipation (Anticipation, India, 2017), love panic (Agapi, Athens, 2019), or trust (La Confiance, Athens, 2021). At the intersection of architecture and psychology, he seeks a disruptive definition of sculpture through architectural fragments, texts, varied bodily scales and latent desires. His body of work establishes correspondences between language (the space of the narrative) and form (sculpture). Language is not just about defining words. It’s a constant conversation with every aspect of our environment. These conversations give rise to projects that generate objects or places, which themselves trigger other conversations. The loop of this crossed narration underlines somehow the unconsciousness of forms that surround us and and how we unconsciously project back, by a mirror effect onto them the ambiguity of our emotions.

Eric Stephany is also a laureat of the CNAP 2021 grant with his project Trust. His personal exhibition at OMS is the first chapter.

Stephany’s work has been widely exhibited: Air de Paris (Paris, FR), Hussenot (Paris, FR), Obadia (Marseille, FR), Torri (Paris, FR), Exile Gallery (Vienna, AT), and Atelier Kunst Spiel Raum (Berlin, DE), Marianne Boesky (NY, US), Béton Salon (Paris, FR), Glassbox, Ferme du Buisson (Noisiel, FR), Fondation d’Entreprise Ricard (Paris, FR), ISCP (NY, US), Museo Nivola (Orani, IT), at the French Institutes of Prague (CZ) and of Athens (GR), at the Deutsches Architektur Zentrum (Berlin, DE), and at the Centre George Pompidou (Paris, FR).