paris: the strange city

© réunion des musées nationaux / photography: didier plowy

monumenta has been a major annual event on paris' art calendar since its inception in 2007. living up to its name, each year a leading international artist is commissioned to create a large-scale installation for the nave of the grand palais, a voluminous landmark building with a magnificent glass and steel rooftop. monumenta's sixth edition is a collab with the multimedia art museum in moscow, and presents a highly intriguing installation by russian-born artists ilya and emilia kabakov. collectively, their work straddles many disciplines but has in recent years evolved into collaborative pieces in different proportions that reflect the conditions in post-stalinist russia and the human condition.

at the grand palais the husband-and-wife artist duo present l'étrange cité, a site-specific installation which draws on references from the renaissance, romanticism and modern science. a quite elaborate artwork, it's composed of eight large constructions. visitors can absorb its calm and peaceful environment by wandering around the structures, with each edifice presenting its own unique world. in the northern part of the nave, a gigantic dome projects colour and light variations onto an open gate which visitors have to go through. they then reach a labyrinth-like space surrounded by a double circular enclosure.

inside, there are five distinct edifices bearing mysterious names: the empty museum, manas, the centre for cosmic energy, how to meet an angel? and the gates. outside, two further constructions can be found. one features paintings confronting an array of subjects contrasted with large areas of white light, while the other reveals gigantic paintings on black backgrounds, mixing baroque references with personal memories. including paintings, curious objects and models, the works installed inside the strange city installation highlight the core issues that preoccupy the artists [on through jun 22]. location: avenue churchill [st.-honoré].

© réunion des musées nationaux / photography: didier plowy