Invisible Receivers

Claire Fontaine

April 20, 2018 – July 27, 2018
Large gallery space with tennis balls on floor
Tennis balls on floor
Tennis balls on floor
Tennis ball with cell phone inside of it

Press Release

Century Pictures is pleased to announce an exhibition featuring a sculptural installation by French artist collective Claire Fontaine.

All over our country, and others, tennis balls containing either contraband or miscellaneous sundry items are often flung over prison walls into exercise yards by loved ones, friends or cohorts. The act can be a brazen one, passing over a known commodity to an anonymous receiver for future exploitation, or it can be one of compassion, a transfer of a little comfort or convenience of home that the giver hopes, will perhaps make imprisonment slightly less brutal.

Untitled (Tennis Ball Sculpture) presents the viewer with an, “exploration of work as the inside of prison and of prison as the outside of work” as Claire Fontaine puts it. The implication of violence is ever-present as the installation reveals its contents through gashes. Spilling out of bright receptacles are an array of everyday items: matches, pencils, cigarette filters, sweets, and string that are lodged into tennis balls, conjuring the deficit and inhumanity of the industrial-prison complex. Loved ones, as reported by news sources, defy security checkpoints and risk imprisonment themselves in order to send everything from narcotics to writing utensils from the ‘outside.’

Claire Fontaine, the name itself a readymade sourced from the ubiquitous French stationery company, use this staging to call attention to broken systems in and of language, labor, and culture. The mass of tennis balls act here both as vehicle and receptacle, but of what? As she, the collective’s chosen pronoun, remarks, “there is a poverty in these presents sent to invisible receivers that transports us into a forgotten universe of deprivation and violence.”

Claire Fontaine is a Paris-based collective, founded in 2004. Fontaine has had solo exhibitions at CCA Wattis Institute, San Francisco; Museo Tamayo, Mexico City; the Jewish Museum, New York; Palais de Tokyo, Paris; Witte de With Center for Contemporary Art, Rotterdam; and Kunsthalle Zurich. Her work has been included in group exhibitions at the Columbus Museum of Art, Ohio; Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit; Centre Pompidou, Paris; 21er Haus, Vienna; KW Institute for Contemporary Art, Berlin; Maison Rouge, Paris; Colección Jumex, Mexico City; CAPC Musée d’Art Contemporain, Bordeaux; and the 2016 Whitney Biennial at The Whitney Museum of American Art. Claire Fontaine’s publication “Human Strike Has Already Begun & Other Writings” (2013) is available for free download at