Céleste Boursier-Mougenot

October 3 – December 2, 2012
Celeste Bousier Mougenot

The University Museum of Contemporary Art (UMCA) is pleased to announce a solo exhibition of work by Céleste Boursier-Mougenot, the internationally acclaimed French artist whose innovative work merges the realms of the musical and the visual. The exhibition will be on view Wednesday, October 3 beginning with an Opening Reception for the artist from 5:00 – 7:30pm. On view through December 9, 2012.

Although exhibiting his work for more than twenty years in a contemporary visual art context, Boursier-Mougenot’s work is also understood as that of a musician and composer. Using various unexpected objects from which he extracts a musical potential, Boursier-Mougenot creates situations where sonic events take on visual form, or conversely where visual information is expressed acoustically. Calling on ideas about technological production, language, chance operations, and systems of translation, Boursier-Mougenot’s work merges multi-sensory phenomena with a cerebral investigation of the mechanisms of sight and sound in his given situations.

“As an installation’s sound and its appearance are for me completely intertwined and interdependent,” the artist has said, “it is not a question of putting a sound object on display, but rather to show the unfolding of a whole system, without concealing its materiality and in such a way so as the visitor can grasp all the factors at work. It is the visitors’ presence and their own experience of apprehending my works which gives the works meaning. This can give rise to a scenography in motion….”

Included in this exhibition is the artist’s impressive sound installation, indexes (v. 1) (2012). A grand piano is rigged to play in response to a live internet feed of stock market data from business news and financial information websites around the world. In this work the artist reconfigures a traditional musical instrument by inserting a software system of his own design, much as John Cage did decades earlier with his prepared piano compositions. The software that Boursier-Mougenot wrote links linguistic properties to musical properties, translating letters and phrases into pitch, repetition, and chords. Acting as conductor, composer, and instrumentalist all at once, the piece renders an in situ musical phenomenon that registers the daily activity of the stock market and plays it in song.

Also on view will be other major works by the artist such as“virus” , "solidvideo" , and “zombiedrones” . These works, which go beyond the creation of sound installations, transpose the principles of feed-back and “translation” of media. Although sound is still present, the resulting images are not necessarily purely sound-based. What ties all these works together are certain systems the artist sets in motion and then allows to autonomously exist and evolve. Arising out of this impermanence is a certain muted and ever-changing beauty.
In conjunction with this exhibition, an interview that was conducted this summer between Céleste Boursier-Mougenot and Christoph Cox will be published and available to visitors.

A native of Nice, Céleste Boursier-Mougenot was born in 1961 and currently lives and works in Sète, France. His work has been exhibited in venues such as the capcMusée, Bordeaux, France (1997); the ITT InterCommunication Center, Tokyo (2000); the Herzliya Museum of Art, Israel (2001); Pinacoteca Sao Paulo, Brazil (2009); Musée Chagall, Nice (2009); and the Henry Art Gallery, Seattle (2010);and in the group exhibition Notations: The Cage Effect Today at Hunter College Art Gallery in NYC (2012); Boursier-Mougenot presented solo exhibitions at the Barbican Center in London, the Queensland Art Gallery in Australia, PS1 (MoMA), NYC, and FRAC Champagne-Ardenne in Reims, France. He recently took part in the 3rd Moscow Biennaleand and was a nominee of the Marcel Duchamp Prize (2010).

His work is in major public and private collections around the world, including the Israel Museum, Jerusalem; the San Diego Museum of Contemporary Art, La Jolla, CA; the Centre Pompidou, Paris; the Fonds National d’Art Contemporain, Paris; MONA (Hobart, Tasmania); the Queensland Art Gallery, Brisbane, Australia; and La Maison Rouge, Paris.


Acknowledgements This exhibition has been made possible through generous support from Etant donnés, the French-American Fund for Contemporary Art. Additional support comes from the Fine Arts Center Friends Residency Fund. Every aspect of producing this exhibition is thanks to the coordination provided by Anthony Allen, director of the Paula Cooper Gallery, New York.

Céleste Boursier-Mougenot would like to thank Les Pianos Pleyel for its collaboration on indexes. The manufacturers of exclusive pianos in Paris since 1807, Les Pianos Pleyel are proud to have partnered
with Céleste Boursier Mougenot as they continue to support musical and artistic creation.


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Celeste Events

Opening Reception
October 3, 2012 - 5-7:30pm
UMCA Main Gallery

In Conversation
October 3, 2012 - 6pm
FAC Lobby

Critic and theorist of art and music, Christoph Cox, along with Multi-media artist Joshua Selman, will conduct an informal conversation with the artist during the opening reception.

les oiseaux de Céleste
film screening
October 4th, 2012 - 6pm

Following the screening, Céleste Boursier-Mougenot will discuss this project with UMass professors Luke Remage-Healey, Jeffrey Podos and UMass graduate student Aaron Stewart.
Related Media
The UMCA is pleased to announce Celeste Boursier-Mougenot will represent France at the 2015 Venice Biennale with a solo exhibition in the French Pavilion. His UMCA catalogue received First Prize in the 2013 New England Museum Association Publication Award competition.
Order the Catalogue


Celeste Publication Cover

Céleste Catalog

Included in this publication is an interview by Hampshire College Professor Christoph Cox done in the summer of 2012 with Céleste.
9.5 x 6.75 inches, 76 pages, 20 full color images
Edition of 500
Published in Fall 2012
Price $22.95