July 14, 1960, late afternoon. Jean-Jacques Lebel, with the help of an escort and watched by perhaps 50-60 people, throws a sculpture by Jean Tinguely into the Canale della Giudecca in Venice. It is 'la Chose' de Tinguely, and the whole thing is part of a Happening that started earlier at the Palazzo Contarini-Corfù, to which the spectators had been invited with a small card: What is later recorded by Alan Kaprow as the first Happening on European soil is a ritual funeral or memorial service for Nina Thoeren, a young woman from Venice who had been raped and killed shortly before in Los Angeles. She had left the city to study in Los Angeles, where her father also lived. In Venice, she had been part of a young art scene and had befriended, among others, Lebel, a regular visitor to the lagoon city.
Jean-Jacques Lebel was the initiator of an exhibition that he had organized together with Alain Jouffroy and Sergio Rusconi at the Galleria del Canale near the Accademia, and which had been running since June 18, 1960: Anti-Procès. A few months earlier, an exhibition of the same name had already taken place at the Paris gallery Les Quatre Saisons, and a third followed in Milan in 1961. All three exhibitions were directed against the imperialist policies of European states, in particular against the policies and the war waged by France in Algeria against the independence movements. The artists protested against the unspeakable violence perpetrated by French forces in Algeria. Already in Paris, a manifesto against the violence and terror had been published. But in Venice - it was the time of the Biennale - Anti-Procès also directed attention to the mercantilization of art and its associated banalization.
The Happening, which is documented with photographs, is the focus of Jean-Jacques Lebel's exhibition. Other works show his œuvre since 1960, his philosophers and Les Avatars de Vénus, a video installation in which he uses the image of women in art and in society to pose the question of archetypes in collective memory.
The exhibition is accompanied by a publication that documents the Happening L'enterrement de la Chose de Tinguely (July 14, 1960) and places it in the context of the manifestations on Anti-Procès (April 1960, Paris, June 1960 Venice, June 1961 Milan) and tells of an encounter between Lebel and Tinguely and Duchamp (winter 1961/1962).