Samantha Welsh enjoyed a preview of Audemars Piguet Contemporary’s first superscale commission in Paris, ahead of the new Paris+ art fair this week
For the last decade, the world’s oldest family-owned watch manufacturer has been projecting its legacy and engaging with new audiences through art patronage. Plus ça change, you might say. But in true Audemars Piguet fashion, ‘To break the rules you first have to master them’ and the curators select challenging artists who provoke discourse, promote engagement, assemble an ecosystem. Lending support from inception through development to exhibition, APC nonetheless confers on its artists full rights of ownership to their work and this artistic licence produces ground-breaking art.
In Andreas Angelidakis, APC turned to an LA-trained architect-turned-artist of Norwegian-Greek heritage who is gay and takes a playful approach to excavating shifting perspectives and societal dichotomies.
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In an artful curation of artist with venue, APC opted for Espace Niemeyer, former HQ of the French Communist Party and oeuvre of futurist architect, Oscar Niemeyer. Venue and exhibition are a conceit, Angelidakis’ installation being a reimagined Temple of Zeus of artefacts nestled matryoshka-doll fashion inside Niemeyer’s structure, itself a UFO-like 11 metre high dome, accessed via an excavated trench to basement level.
All this is a metaphor for the visitor’s immersive deep-dive into the personal memories, experiences, mythologies of the artist. Angelidakis points to the subversion of truth through rumour, encouraging us to discern propaganda, celebrate diversity, embrace change.
The visitor regresses, childlike, into kaleidoscopically spotlit multi-worlds of ‘let’s pretend’, learning through play by interacting with outsize art-devices. A quasi story-time on the book-chair, a lesson in apocryphal urban myth (or is it reality) conveyed through the story of the stylite and the column, roomsets of soft-play ruins, a fairground mirror revealing us as others see us, and windows onto VR.
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Emerging, blinking, back onto an ordinary Paris street, APC shows us that like mechanical watches, art tells you about more than what you see. Both need emotional intelligence and experimentation to be successful.
Find out more: www.audemarspiguet.com/adreas-angelidakis