The Pledge are seven Assembly Instructions that use as a starting point interviews conducted by the artist with Marc-Olivier Wahler (curator and director of the Palais de Tokyp, Paris), Leah Kelly (neurobiologist and researcher at The Rockefeller Center, New York), Michel Gondry (film maker and director of music- videos and commercials), Danny Rubin (screenwriter and author of Groundhog Day), Donatien Grau (teacher at Paris-Sorbonne University and member of the “Proust” Team at the ITEM_CNRS institute), Simon Fujiwara (artist and performer) and Alfredo Arias (theatre director, playwright and actor). These interviews were published in a special issue of the Palais de Tokyo’s magazine Palais together with a series of collages created by Singh to illustrate the ideas within. Each interview is the departure point for a rumination on the notion of a beginning, a promise, how the brain understands the world, how we understand a story, our dreams, external reality.
The Pledge (Simon Fujiwara)plays Simon and Alexandre’s conversation throughout forty framed images. Each one developing upon ideas related to architecture, childhood, sky-scrapers, phalluses, The Tower of Babel, paleolithic tools, listener and storyteller, performance, creative writing, audience, Simon Fujiwara’s autobiography, erotic fantasy, Assyrian statuary, lettuce, rabbits, clouds and the Sistine Chapel. As in Simon Fujiwara’s performances, the artwork plays with the gap between reality and imagination, emphasizing the conflict between material and form and exploring the complicity between actor and spectator.
The seven works operate as proxy-portraits for the interviewees, visual essays exploring the subjects’ ideas and as a window into the phantasmagorical universe Singh has created to amplify their thoughts. A common theme throughout the works is the notion of how the mind assembles a coherent view of the world from fragments: from parts of sensory perception, from childhood memories, from personal and historical facts. The very collages used to engage with these concepts are themselves reminiscent of the same ideas. Individually each framed work uses the simplest mechanisms of cutting and pasting, changing scale and orientation to make a coherent whole from two completely different images. As a group, a coherent thread is constructed through the repetition and elaboration on multiple ideas, visual icons and motifs.
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Alexandre Singh is a visual artist and writer based in New York. Singh who was born in Bordeaux, France to Indian and French parents was brought up in Manchester, UK before studying Fine Art at the University of Oxford, UK. Singh’s work derives at once from traditions in literature, performance, photo-conceptualism and object-based installation art. Often starting with elaborate, publicly presented lectures that blend historical fact with narrative fiction, Singh’s practice resists categorization. Taking in such diverse genres as writing, collage, installation and performance, Alexandre Singh’s works are characterized by obsessive details and linkages. Drawing up a dizzying constellation of themes and characters; culled as much from classical history and philosophy, as popular and consumer culture; Singh’s universe is one of absurdist junctures and juxtapositions in which Adidas founder Adi Dassler is re-imagined as Faust; Piero Manzoni creates a camera that eats the Universe; and Molière send-ups of 17th century snobbery are translated to modern-day New York. If figures such as Molière, Lucian of Samosata, and even Woody Allen, appear as characters in Singh’s world, it only seems natural, his works perpetuating a like spirit of wit, imagination and fantasy.
Alexandre Singh’s work has been exhibited in venues throughout Europe and the United States including The Serpentine Gallery, London; New Museum, New York; PS-1 MoMA, New York; Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam; Palais de Tokyo, Paris and Sprüth Magers, Berlin. Singh’s work is held by a number of private and public collections including MoMA, New York and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York.