Alaska in Paris

On show at Les Douches La Gallerie in Paris’s interesting 10th district is a compendium of the output of Sebastien Montabonel’s Alaska Editions – featuring the work of Patrick and Tristram Fetherstonhaugh, Dan Holdsworth, Véronique Rolland and Stéphanie Solinas together with Alaska’s eponymous periodical and a concurrent exhibition of work by Stéphane Couturier, Le Musée des Monuments Français.

The intriguing Les Douches La Gallerie is a wonderful space for photography, a converted public baths which has been adapted into an art gallery – the plain white-tiled walls giving a great backdrop for viewing art and, in their enameling, a subtly different experience to your regular white cube gallery environment.

The show of Alaska editions proves that they produce works of intellectual rigor – which are often remarkable beautiful.

Stéphanie Solinas’ work Dominique Lambert is an examination of identity and representation, people (all named Dominique Lambert) are repeatedly re-represented in a sort of Chinese whispers project that ends with her finding someone who looks like the original subject is supposed to look like – each case history recorded and presented in the red box, augmented weekly by photographs she sends you by post.

The work by Véronique Rolland – 6 – is a meditation in six parts on the human body, femininity, and man’s place in the landscape. Landscape is also a central tenet in Dan Holdsworthy’s Transmission: New Remote Earth Views, although now we are looking at landscape rather than interacting with it, even if at first glance neither seems true. And truth is at the heart of Patrick and Tristram Fetherstonhaugh’s work – a complete photographic record of the contents of one of the world’s most important collections of ancient Egyptian pottery. That you have to excavate the pictures from their boxes adds to the reverence in which one is encouraged to view them – a reverence normally reserved for the objects themselves.

Alaska Editions works with the various artists to produce both a platform to show their work and a further work in which the platform plays an integral part, hence the exhibition looking like a collection of boxes rather than of photography. Their work is much to be admired.

After all that, and no more than a ten-minute walk away, we can also recommend a long lunch at Brasserie Flo in the delightfully named cour des Petites-Écuries – a generous slice of what you expect from a grand Parisian restaurant.

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