It is also clear that one can be an artist—born in the region, in Villeurbanne itself!—and be recognised by international professionals without belonging to any network at all. It is enough not to remain waiting but to move and assume the ambition of one's own work. And with regard to what remains of the Paris versus provinces debate, it is up to the French regions to affirm their creative potential in the face of the other regions of Europe and no longer worry about any local or national anointment.
For the Institut, devoting all the exhibition rooms to Melik Ohanian was thus an affirmation of continuity in French and international work that moves by way of Daniel Buren and Bernard Bazile and by Jeff Wall and Jordi Colomer. This means saying once again that the quality of an approach is the only determinant component in responsible programming.
It was thus up to the Institute to hold the artist's first large solo exhibition and give the public an opportunity to see many works that had often been made abroad. Slowmotion, made during his residency in Kitakyushu in Japan in 2004, The Gear, made for his first exhibition at the Yvon Lambert Gallery in New York in 2004 and The White Flag, made in Texas. More familiar works could also be seen again: White Wall Travelling, 1997, purchased by Frac Rhône-Alpes in 2002 and that had already been exhibited at the Institute, The Hand, 2002, Switch off, 2002 and Hit, 1998, all shown at his first exhibition at the Chantal Crousel Gallery in Paris in 2002, You Are My Destiny, shown at the Centre pour l’image contemporaine - Saint-Gervais Geneva in 2004, Welcome to Hanksville, presented for the first time in Paris in 2003 at Studio Yvon Lambert and the Sign Word Book project initiated at BF15 in Lyon in 2003.
With work shown at biennials in Sydney, Berlin, Sao Paolo and Moscow, residences in Texas and Japan, Melik Ohanian travels and explores other cultures and other territories. In 2002 at the opening of Palais de Tokyo, he made Island of an Island, depicting the birth of a new territory. Based on time, intervals and on continuity and discontinuity, his work calls into question the notions of territory and identity and puts forward other both geographical and political hypotheses.
In this 'quasi-retrospective' exhibition, he showed mainly new works produced for the occasion by the Institut d’art contemporain with the help of his galleries: Hidden, Invisible Film, Gradient, Datcha Project, a new version of Peripherical Communities shot in January 2006 in Dakar and a longstanding work, Mars Clock, that was made throughout the exhibition.
Colored Circle Mirror and Concrete Tears punctuated the exhibition space, and Melik Ohanian presented in the central part what he has called 'clues', like memories of important former works that are useful in understanding his career—Island of an Island, 1998-2001, The Patrol, 2004, Demix, 1996. Finally, the series Selected Recordings, large undated, unreferenced photographs that had already been exhibited at the Institute, opened other windows to the worlds proposed by the artist. Melik Ohanian's work is strict and open to the major political questions of the time, but subjectivity and individual emotion have their share. Nomadism, an appetite for the world—and sometimes disturbed questioning of it— and the noting of the visible and invisible features of life make his work some of the most intriguing in art today.