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Two Owls on a Mountain, and a Snake at the Bank Two Owls on a Mountain, and a Snake at the Bank

Maxime Rossi2012

Biennale of Sydney

Biennale of Sydney

French artist Maxime Rossi works across a wide range of media, including performance, video, sculpture and installation. For the 19th Biennale of Sydney, Rossi presentsed two works, Père Lachaise (2010) at Artspace and Two Owls on a Mountain, and a Snake at the Bank (2012) on Cockatoo Island.

To create Père Lachaise, over a period of days Rossi placed sheets of Frédéric Chopin’s musical notations near the composer’s tomb in Paris’s Père Lachaise cemetery. The artist suspended pens filled with coloured ink in a tree that overhangs the site, and as the branches were unsettled by the interventions of movement caused by birds and shifting winds, the ink dripped, forming vivid drops on the sheets of paper below. Rossi marries Chopin’s music, born of improvisation, with John Cage’s proposition of chance composition to create a new notational duet. The result is displayed as a set of framed prints and wallpapers that envelop the viewer in silent, yet vivacious music.

Two Owls on a Mountain, and a Snake at the Bank includes footage borrowed from Max Ernst: Mein Vagabundiere – Mein Unruhe (My Vagabond – My Unrest) made by Peter Schamoni in 1991. We see Ernst’s car travelling, like a mirage or a vision from the past, amid the remarkable geological formations of Arizona’s rocky hills. The landscape immediately conjures up images from Ernst’s paintings, such as Europe After the Rain II (1940–42), with its remarkable formations resembling coral and rock.

Rossi’s film meanders, as did Ernst, through the strangeness of this place to re-enact the moment of recognition and dislocation Ernst must have experienced when he first set eyes upon a place he had already imagined in his surreal desire.Rossi is interested in objects that belong to a range of situations, from the ordinary and trivial to the mysterious and poetic; incorporating elements of accident and chance, as well as humour, in his practice. For Cheap Imitation (2010–11), Rossi tried to teach silence to a mynah bird – a species known for its uncanny ability to mimic sounds and voices – over a period of several months. The work is a humorous nod to John Cage’s 4’33” (1952) in which the experimental composer famously did not play a single note for four minutes and 33 seconds, the composition consisting instead of the environmental sounds heard by the listener.

Similarly, Rossi’s sound recording captured all the ambient sounds imitated by the bird. Evolving from this earlier work, Rossi’s installation Mynah Dilemma (2012), presented at the Palais de Tokyo in Paris, included the caged bird as well as a video performance by the famous French mime Ivan Bacciocchi. Bacciocchi interpreted the same everyday sounds as the mynah bird, including running water, a creaking door and a barking dog. With tongue-in-cheek humour, Rossi draws attention to the minutiae of life that often slip past unnoticed.

Rossi studied at École nationale supérieure des beaux-arts de Lyon and Concordia University, Montreal. Recent exhibitions featuring Rossi’s work include ‘Kemosabe’, Galleria Tiziana Di Caro, Salerno (2013); ‘L’Origine des Choses’, CENTRALE for contemporary art, Brussels (2013); ‘Pop-up Store’, Galerie des Galeries, Paris (2012); ‘Mynah Dilemma’, Palais de Tokyo, Paris (2012); ‘Bouquet fleuri, bouquet flétri. C’est au choix’, Galerie Anne de Villepoix, Paris (2010); and ‘Faux jumeaux’, Stedelijk Museum voor Actuele Kunst, Ghent (2009).

French artist Maxime Rossi works across a wide range of media, including performance, video, sculpture and installation. For the 19th Biennale of Sydney, Rossi presentsed two works, Père Lachaise (2010) at Artspace and Two Owls on a Mountain, and a Snake at the Bank (2012) on Cockatoo Island.

To create Père Lachaise, over a period of days Rossi placed sheets of Frédéric Chopin’s musical notations near the composer’s tomb in Paris’s Père Lachaise cemetery. The artist suspended pens filled with coloured ink in a tree that overhangs the site, and as the branches were unsettled by the interventions of movement caused by birds and shifting winds, the ink dripped, forming vivid drops on the sheets of paper below. Rossi marries Chopin’s music, born of improvisation, with John Cage’s proposition of chance composition to create a new notational duet. The result is displayed as a set of framed prints and wallpapers that envelop the viewer in silent, yet vivacious music.

Two Owls on a Mountain, and a Snake at the Bank includes footage borrowed from Max Ernst: Mein Vagabundiere – Mein Unruhe (My Vagabond – My Unrest) made by Peter Schamoni in 1991. We see Ernst’s car travelling, like a mirage or a vision from the past, amid the remarkable geological formations of Arizona’s rocky hills. The landscape immediately conjures up images from Ernst’s paintings, such as Europe After the Rain II (1940–42), with its remarkable formations resembling coral and rock.

Rossi’s film meanders, as did Ernst, through the strangeness of this place to re-enact the moment of recognition and dislocation Ernst must have experienced when he first set eyes upon a place he had already imagined in his surreal desire.Rossi is interested in objects that belong to a range of situations, from the ordinary and trivial to the mysterious and poetic; incorporating elements of accident and chance, as well as humour, in his practice. For Cheap Imitation (2010–11), Rossi tried to teach silence to a mynah bird – a species known for its uncanny ability to mimic sounds and voices – over a period of several months. The work is a humorous nod to John Cage’s 4’33” (1952) in which the experimental composer famously did not play a single note for four minutes and 33 seconds, the composition consisting instead of the environmental sounds heard by the listener.

Similarly, Rossi’s sound recording captured all the ambient sounds imitated by the bird. Evolving from this earlier work, Rossi’s installation Mynah Dilemma (2012), presented at the Palais de Tokyo in Paris, included the caged bird as well as a video performance by the famous French mime Ivan Bacciocchi. Bacciocchi interpreted the same everyday sounds as the mynah bird, including running water, a creaking door and a barking dog. With tongue-in-cheek humour, Rossi draws attention to the minutiae of life that often slip past unnoticed.

Rossi studied at École nationale supérieure des beaux-arts de Lyon and Concordia University, Montreal. Recent exhibitions featuring Rossi’s work include ‘Kemosabe’, Galleria Tiziana Di Caro, Salerno (2013); ‘L’Origine des Choses’, CENTRALE for contemporary art, Brussels (2013); ‘Pop-up Store’, Galerie des Galeries, Paris (2012); ‘Mynah Dilemma’, Palais de Tokyo, Paris (2012); ‘Bouquet fleuri, bouquet flétri. C’est au choix’, Galerie Anne de Villepoix, Paris (2010); and ‘Faux jumeaux’, Stedelijk Museum voor Actuele Kunst, Ghent (2009).

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  • Title: Two Owls on a Mountain, and a Snake at the Bank Two Owls on a Mountain, and a Snake at the Bank
  • Creator: Maxime Rossi, Maxime Rossi
  • Date: 2012, 2012
  • Provenance: Courtesy the artist and Galleria Tiziana Di Caro, Salerno; Music: Stephen Redhawk; Post-production: Lindor, Courtesy the artist and Galleria Tiziana Di Caro, Salerno; Music: Stephen Redhawk; Post-production: Lindor
  • Type: Audio Visual/Installation, Audio Visual/Installation
  • Rights: http://www.biennaleofsydney.com.au/legal-privacy/, http://www.biennaleofsydney.com.au/legal-privacy/
  • External Link: Biennale of Sydney, Biennale of Sydney
  • Medium: HD video, 8:40 mins, HD video, 8:40 mins
  • Edition: 2014: 19th Biennale of Sydney: You Imagine What You Desire, 2014: 19th Biennale of Sydney: You Imagine What You Desire

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