Loris Gréaud Smashes the Mold for Museum Shows

Opening night of "The Unplayed Notes Museum" at Dallas Contemporary, with "To Destroy Angels" (2014). Photo: Ben Davis.

It’s Saturday night in Dallas, at the debut of “The Unplayed Notes Museum,” by the French art star Loris Gréaud. The cavernous, spookily lit space of Dallas Contemporary simmers with visitors. Then, this:

Unknown vandals appear out of nowhere, and begin to attack the art. The crowd surges forward to watch. Guards bark orders, herding the gawkers towards the exits. Outside, later, the ejected attendees will clump around the courtyard heat lamps in the crisp Texas evening, and try to piece together what happened.

And that’s it. No one is allowed back in. For the rest of the run, visitors to Dallas Contemporary will see only a wrecked version of the exhibits. In effect, the show opens with its closing.

At 35, Gréaud is something of a wunderkind. He has collaborated with Sonic Youth guitarist Lee Ranaldo, maestro of the weird David Lynch, and the team at the Antares deep sea research station (this last to stage an underwater fireworks show, stimulating phosphorescent creatures with sound). A few years ago, he was the first artist to fill the entirety of Paris’s Palais de Tokyo; for his US museum debut, he is the first to score a solo show occupying all of Dallas Contemporary. Which he’s chosen to desecrate.

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