Curative License: Nouvelles Vagues Sweeps Paris

"Bloody Mary" curated by Jonathan Chauveau

Here are five exhibits that sang with the clamour.

Paris’s edgiest art space Palais de Tokyo now feels bigger than most major airports thanks to its expansion last year. But the four vast industrial floors apparently aren’t enough to contain its latest exhibition, “Nouvelles Vagues,” which spans 50 simultaneous shows citywide and poses the slippery question: what does it mean to be that mercurial art world character, a curator, now that exhibition-making is well-established an art form in its own right, with those who once stood behind the artists becoming the headline act?

Working with a panel of art world big wigs like Hans Ulrich Obrist and Massimiliano Gioni, Palais De Tokyo has amassed an energetically motley roster of young, international curators to provide a snapshot of the state of curating today.

Playful thinking was the keynote while exploring the Palais’s concrete halls at the mobbed vernissage that held some 30-plus exhibitions alone. Yes, there was plenty of art, much of it thrilling and new, but curator took center stage in this buzzy, hectic gathering – literally so in the case of Swedish critic and curator turned moviemaker Sinziana Ravini, who donned a hunting cap to shoot a love story amid eerie artworks in her show “Dark Moon.” (Elsewhere, curators expanded their roles by doubling as amateur divers.) But at the end of the day, the curator’s leaping off point is a strong idea, and here the concepts ranged from meditations on the perfect death to blue sky thinking in the digital age.