From June 13 to August 26, 2007, Beautiful People (and the Secret Wound), a group exhibition with Ben, Christian Boltanski, Christophe Boulanger, Victor Burgin, Claude Closky, Berlinde De Bruyckere, Jeroen De Rijke & Willem De Rooij, Jan Fabre, Hans-Peter Feldmann, Jenny Gage, Jack Goldstein, Sarah Jones, Jiri Kolar, Josef Koudelka, Ken Lum, Urs Lüthi, Paul McCarthy, Annette Messager, Duane Michals, Bruce Nauman, Raymond Pettibon, Liza May Post, L.A. Raeven, Gerhard Rühm, Marc Trivier, Jan Vercruysse, Hannah Villiger, curated by Miquel Bardagil.

And where is the wound?
I wonder where it lies, where does the secret wound hide, where
all men run for shelter when their pride is wounded,
when they are hurt?

All men know the way there, to the point that the wound itself becomes
a sort of secret and aching heart.

Jean Genet


The media transmit to us a precise notion of beauty. These are placid images, in which youth, elegance, and the joy of consuming are predominant. Beautiful and smiling juvenile persons show us an image which, unlike products or services, cannot be purchased. We are confronted with beautiful people integrated into an unreal universe, superficial and inaccessible. A world without contradictions, staged to seduce us.

It is however possible, in opposition to the seduction engendered by this hedonistic image, to explore a different concept of attraction. An attraction composed of contradictions, not only of glamour, but also of desire, melancholy or pain, based on certain doses of humanity. In other words, an attraction which springs from the externalizing of hidden feelings, little fears or harbored dreams. That which Jean Genet called “the secret wound”.

Beautiful People (and the Secret Wound) is an exhibition about beauty, seduction, and the force of attraction of images in relation to their ability to reveal to us certain aspects of the intimate lives of individuals. The process of attraction can be initiated by the nostalgia of childhood innocence, signs of aging, the fear of death, overwhelming beauty, a hidden surprise, a challenge or a troubling incertitude.

With a selection of works, the excellent collection of the FRAC Nord-Pas-de-Calais offers a means to travel from the surface (the skin) of persons all the way to their interior (the depths of their souls). The duration of this voyage depends on the depth of the wound, or rather, on the image’s degree of sincerity.

Jean Genet tells us that each person has his or her hidden wound. Beautiful People (and the Secret Wound) is about this, about trying to discover it within others in order to integrate it into our intimate lives.

—Miquel Bardagil