Notorious (Christian Leigh).

by florence cheval

“NOTORIOUS (CHRISTIAN LEIGH)” is a Christmas Mystery in the form of an exhibition, a jigsaw puzzle which is not that simple to put together. The central character in the story is Christian Leigh, once a teenage American fashion designer prodigy in the early eighties, then a maverick exhibition curator who mesmerized the art world during a handful of years at the turn of the nineties, and today a self-proclaimed prolific (but extremely elusive) filmmaker, performance artist and book editor operating somewhere, somehow, in Europe.

Leigh has made a habit of burning bridges, of vanishing overnight, and of reinventing himself anew in a different milieu under a slightly modified name each time: the 13-year old designer who was profiled in People magazine in 1983 was known as Kristian; the curator who, in 1989, authored the bombastic exhibition “The Silent Baroque” that put Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac on the map, signed as Christian; whereas the filmmaker who managed to band together Béatrice Dalle, Guillaume Depardieu, Leos Carax, John Cale, Dinosaur Jr., Guillaume Dustan, and Dominique Reymond in “Process”, his first feature film released in 2003, goes by CS.

For each new life, for each new career, Leigh set no ceiling to his ambitions. But every time, it ended badly. Trails of unpaid bills, angry creditors, ripped-off artists, bamboozled collaborators, and perplexed actors are woven throughout Leigh’s biographies. And yet, this is not enough to explain why he disappears time and again. There’s clearly more to it than just being uncovered at some point as a con man, a pathological liar, a huckster, and having to be constantly on the run.

December, 14, 2011 – February 4, 2012

80 rue Julien Lacroix
75020 Paris

The trouble with Christian – Whatever Happened to – Christian Leigh – Biography – by Alexi Worth, an article in ArtForum, March 2003