From September 12 to November 21, 2004, Coup de cœur II—a sentimental choice, a group exhibition with Tim Eitel, Ingeborg Lockemann, Marius Mørch, Yann Paolozzi, curated by Hilde Teerlinck.

With Coup de Cœur II—A Sentimental Choice, CRAC Alsace continues this fall its series of group exhibitions showing young, international artists. This year, four artists from three European countries have been invited to present work dealing with the theme of the city. This small but focused collection presents a variety of differing views presented in different formats that experiment with aspects of urban culture.

The most well-known in the group is young German artist Tim Eitel. This 33-year-old achieved celebrity soon after graduation from the Hochschule fur Grafik und Buchkunst in Leipzig with his realistic oil paintings incorporating elements from the Romantics. CRAC Alsace shows a small selection of his paintings that depict the internal urban space: views of museums and galleries, generally depicted as aseptic white cubes. Eitel creates extremely sparse spaces that are highly abstract. He then inserts figures: young, successful and fashionable ones who emanate a feeling of unease within these aseptic landscapes, creating an effect that is simultaneously realistic and surreal. This eerie juxtaposition is continued in his work "Natur" (Nature). In spite of its name, the nature of the work is in keeping with the urban theme of the installation. Eitel's landscape does little to evoke classical ideas of natureit is neither a wilderness nor an idyll. It merely serves as a frame that is implied through elements such as the hint of avenues of trees in the background. The dominant color is green, but it is a matte, monochrome tone that remains neutral. Eitel's nature is neither nurturing nor provocative. Portraits range from the stark and pathetic to finely interwoven psychological group portraits such as "Ausflug" (excursion/trip), a work completed last year, which depicts a sort of snapshot of a circle of friends or colleagues. It is less a testimony to their nature as a group than their ultimate isolation from each other: each member of the group seems to be an isolated unit, leaving us with the tacit conviction of a seemingly existing social link that is ultimately superficial.

In contrast to Eitel, the work of Ingeborg Lockemann provides an ironic, almost playful alternative. This Berlin-based artist, born in 1962, chose to observe the urban environment in a more microscopic fashion, infonned by the social sciences, seeking out the unseen in the minutiae of the everyday. She decided to look at the town of Altkirch for CRAC Alsace and came up with some startling details, often overlooked at first glance: a weathervane with rainhood, the ornamental detail of a wrought-iron balcony and the roofing of the train station, elements that normally go unnoticed by the inhabitants of Altkirch.

Lockemann processes photos on her PC, and transforms them with pastels and colors into mural pictograms or videos. The overall impression created is that of a familiar, yet somehow strange world with surreal elements. Lockemann's work reads like a dream sequence, a sort of photo-collage of delightful juxtapositions: a watering can with a grain silo, a pensioner at a youth club. The elements seem to float weightlessly, suspended. The video images drift past the viewer like an exuberant school of fish in which the poetry of the trivial and the overlooked is brought to life.

Yann Paolozzi's urban dreams, on the other hand, have a touch of aggressiveness. This 27-year-old Parisian has visualized the American metropolis through the dream-like lens of European boys enamoured of TV and video games. The central element of the exhibit features a replica, forged in wood, of the iconic Ford Torino used in the TV series Starsky and Hutch. Instead of the legendary red and white, Paolozzi has opted to merely leave it in neutral white, functioning as a sort of projection screen which reflects the fantastical elements of American machismo. Coolness Made in the United States also depicts graffiti-style murals: cowboys, trucks, video games, women in bikinis and a vividly-colored artistic adaptation of a comic strip, full of seemingly disparate action symbols. Paolozzi creates a suggestive environment and leaves interpretation open-ended, as is symbolized by the blurred fade-out into an empty white background, enhancing the surreal, dreamlike quality of the sequences.

Marius Mørch's video installation, entitled The Island of La Defense attempts to bring the viewer face-to-face with the motivations behind urban architecture. Contrary to Eitel and Lockermann, Mørch focuses on the prominent elements of the external urban environment. Mørch's videos depict modern architecture as restrictive spaces with cold shapes. The 31-year-old Norwegian takes us on a spectacular camera odyssey though the Paris business district of "La Défense", a labyrinth of glass and geometric concrete walls, laced with endless stairwells. This circuit across Europe's largest business district where 3,600 companies are based is an aesthetically cold environment with forbidding, nightmarish elements that proclaim it as an end in itself. The massive dimensions of these buildings serve to dwarf the individual denizens of this world of big business, bringing to mind the words of Hans Magnus Enzensberger: "Every inhabitant knows that architecture, contrary to poetry, is a terrifying art".

Alice Henkes, art critic (Kunstbulletin, Der Bund—Berne)