ALEXIS DAHAN 'Alarm!', NY – Two Rams

In February 2015, Coburn Projects helped produce the exhibition 'Alarm!', a solo exhibition featuring works by Alexis Dahan. 

The exhibition continues Dahan’s investigation into the experience of the city streets as a source for visual experimentations, a location for public art interventions and a place to disseminate philosophical content.

Conceived as one coherent system of meaning as opposed to a succession of individual works, Alarm! is an immersive exhibition composed of nine different propositions inspired by New York’s obsolete, communication-purposed, urban furniture. The pieces interact with one another as Dahan plays with the gallery surroundings, using the site as direct inspiration for the visual appearance of his work, while referencing his own theoretical obsessions.

Three public interventions will take place on the street directly outside the gallery: the old fire alarm on the corner of Rivington and Bowery has been repainted with fluorescent red, one pothole on the pavement has been filled with ultramarine-colored water in order to create a Blue Puddle and a yellow news rack has been repurposed to carry and distribute a philosophy and art theory newspaper entitled Alarm!.

Inside the gallery, Alarm Amann consists of four photographs of the fire alarm, painted with the same red and framed with the same molding that ornaments the alarm. On the west wall, an installation consisting of nine lapis lazuli rough rocks directly screwed in the wall remasters Constellation of Street Corners, a piece previously shown on the same gallery wall in July 2014 when the artist documented the location of nine Blue Puddle interventions on a large scale downtown map. On the opposite wall, Untitled (Le Quotidien Déchiré), 1975 is an original piece from the Art Scotch series by French artist Gil Wolman. In 1956, he co-wrote with Guy Debord A Theory of Détournement, a text essential to the understanding of this exhibition that has been reproduced on the front page of the Alarm! newspaper.

Finally, while the first three interventions have been placed in the public space and the following three within the private walls of the gallery, the last three’s location could be considered to be “in-between”. Indeed, Magazine Rack is a sculpture placed inside the gallery but it can only be seen from outside: the custom magazines holder from the adjacent store’s vitrine has been reproduced to create a continuation inside the gallery as if one store was bleeding its content inside the art space next door. Payphone Chair is a sculpture made with two New York City decommissioned payphones that invites the viewer to sit behind a one-way mirror and look at the street without being seen. Watching outside from the inside, one can look at the different public pieces but also at Breuning Politics, an intervention made in collaboration with artist Olaf Breuning that reproduces three social commentary drawings on the opposite street wall.  


Alexis Dahan was born in 1982 in Paris, France. After studying literature and philosophy in Paris, he got his M.A. in Journalism at New York University. His artistic career started in December 2012 with an acclaimed solo exhibition at Half Gallery, New York that was followed by a solo show at Rook & Raven Gallery, London in May 2013.

In November 2013, Dahan’s “We serve selected texts”, a non-profit installation that distributed philosophy texts to bystanders, was invited by the DIA Art Foundation to operate in front of their Chelsea location. Last March, with the support of Art Production Fund, Dahan created “If the game is the art, is chance the artist?” in Las Vegas. This public, participatory and non-profit installation transformed dice-generated chance activated by the participant into abstract drawings.