Whitney Curator Signs French Artist’s Petition Protesting His Exclusion From Pompidou Show

The French video and new media artist Fred Forest isn’t happy about being left out of the Pompidou‘s current video art retrospective, “Vidéo Vintage: 1963-1983,” so the artist — known for making his opinions known to anyone who will listen — posted an open letter (reprinted in full below) to the museum’s president Alain Seban on a Web site Forest founded, and had a number of prominent art world figures sign it, including the Whitney’s adjunct curator of new media arts, Christiane Paul.

Other prominent figures who’ve signed Forest’s letter deploring his exclusion from the exhibition and the museum’s permanent collection include Fondation Cartier and Jeu de Paume president Alain Dominique Perrin; Lisbeth Rebollo, director of Sao Paulo’s Museum of Contemporary Art; and Wulf Herzogenrath, director of Kunstahalle Bremen and curator of video art at Documenta 6. Other signees can be found here.


We, the signatories of this letter of support, are surprised that the artist Fred Forest is excluded from the 1963-1983 VINTAGE VIDEO historical exhibition organized by the museum. We would like to know why this pioneer of French Video Art is not included? ? ? Is it because he is not part of your collections? When your website indicates having one of the richest collections in Europe (with more than 60,000 works, including 1,400 videos), but does not include one, it is true, signed by this artist! In the eyes of all who know and appreciate his career, his absence from your collection seems an error to say the least. It is further paradoxical when the mission of the Centre is to defend its national artists. Your staff could not ignore his existence and importance considering that his international reputation is long established.

Finally, 230 videos of his works became part of national heritage through legal deposit, following an agreement signed in 2004 with INA (National Audiovisual Institute). The curators of VINTAGE VIDEO, who do not own any of his work (and for good reason), could have requested the loan of a work to assure the historical rigor of their exhibition.

Consequently, it seems appropriate, Mr. President, that our correspondence in support of Fred Forest is displayed prominently in this exhibition, together with your response, and permanently in the rooms consultation “Film and New Media Collections,” located in the Museum on the fourth floor. Please accept, Mr. President, the assurances of our highest consideration.

So far there has been no official response from the Pompidou. “Vidéo Vintage” closes May 7.

— Benjamin Sutton