From Paris to Marseille, the arts return after the summer break under the sign of the Anthropocene, like a mirror image of COVID-19, a symptom of an annexed wild world, heat waves, droughts and fires that are accelerating in the world. The month of September in Paris offers a real crossover of exhibitions placing great emphasis on the environment.

‘Notre monde brûle’ (“Our world is burning”) at Palais de Tokyo, ‘La lutte Yanomami’ (“The Yanomami Struggle”) dedicated to Claudia Andujar at Fondation Cartier or even Rachel Rose’s exhibition at Lafayette Anticipations… While these shows draw to a close, ‘Courants Verts, créer pour l’environnement’ (“Green Trends, to create for the environment”) arrives with its legion of 20 artists at the EDF Foundation (see interview with our editor-in-chief Alice Audouin in the exhibition catalogue), as well as ‘Global(e) Résistance’ at Centre Georges Pompidou and a myriad of exhibitions with eloquent titles in the galleries of the capital.

Mor Charpentier is showing ‘Silent Spring’ by the artist Théo Mercier, a direct reference to Rachel Carson’s pioneering and emblematic book on the environmental struggle. The title of the exhibiton by queen of land art Cornelia Konrads, ‘Endangered Species’, at Virginie Louvet Gallery, coincides with the latest catastrophic report from the WWF. Other evocative exhibition titles include ‘Asphyxie’ (“Asphyxiation”), which brings together outstanding paintings of Chernobyl and the Montreal Biodome by Thomas Lévy-Lasne, at Filles du Calvaire Gallery; or ‘Fluo Bleaching’ by the young artist Raphaëlle Peria at Papillon Gallery, which focuses on coral bleaching due to global warming. This disordered world, embodied by lucid and alarming semantics, also gives hope through its transformation capacity, as seen in September too with the exhibitions “Aquamorphoses” (‘Aquamorphosis’) by the new collective 1:61 (with Camille Juthier, Jonathan Bréchignac …) or ‘Metamorphoses’, curated by Pauline Lisowski. Let’s complete this tour of Paris and its region on a lighthearted note with the legendary Piero Gilardi, at the Michel Rein Gallery, where he puts himself at the heart of the paradox: representing healthy ecosystems in polyurethane foam!

In the regions, it is impossible to avoid diving back into reflections and testimonies centered around global devastation, as well as solutions, too. La Gacilly Photo Festival in Brittany is offering 19 outdoor exhibitions including, amongst others, the remarkable work of Martin Bernetti or the fascinating marine worlds of Greg Lecoeur. The Carmignac Art Foundation, on the island of Porquerolles, is showing a striking selection from the Carmignac Photojournalism Prize. In L’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue, the Villa Datris Foundation is presenting ‘Recyclage / Surcyclage’ (“Recycling/Upcycling”), which goes beyond waste to address solutions emerging from its transformation, with more than 50 artists including Michelangelo Pistoletto, Pascale-Marthine Tayou, Agnés Varda…. The ocean specialist artist Nicolas Floc’h has just unveiled  his ‘Productive Landscapes’ at the Frac Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur as part of ‘Manifesta’; the latter not failing to include environmental issues in its programme, notably with the exhibition ‘The Park: becoming a body of water’, with the participation of the American collective ‘Center for Creative Ecologies’.

Does this non-exhaustive tour of France suggest artists might be indulging in defeatism? Not to worry! While these observations after the summer break may appear alarming, artists will next be exploring new sources of creativity to become more resilient.

Alice Audouin and Marie Leprêtre

Credit : Sarah Trouche, Aral Revival, 2013 / Alice Audouin, O.G.M. Free from the exhibition in Michel Rein Gallery, Piero Gilardi, 2014 

In Paris:
Our world is burning – Palais de Tokyo – from 21/02/2020 to 13/09/2020

The Yanomami Struggle – Cartier Foundation – from 30/01/2020 to 13/09/2020
Rachel Rose – Lafayette Anticipations – from 13/03/2020 to 13/09/2020
Global(e) Résistance – Centre Georges Pompidou – from 29/07/2020 to 04/01/2021
Silent Spring – Mor Charpentier – from 05/09/2020 to 31/10/2020
Endangered Species – Virginie Louvet Gallery – from 11/09/2020 to 31/20/2020
Asphyxiation– Filles du Calvaire Gallery – from 04/09/2020 to 24/10/2020
Fluo Bleaching – Papillon Gallery – from 03/10/2020 to 07/11/2020
Aquamorphose – Les Petites Maisons – from 18/09/2020 to 25/09/2020
Métamorphoses – Maison des Arts Plastiques Rosa Bonheur – from 07/09/2020 to 03/10/2020
Dalla Natura all’Arte – Michel Rein Gallery – from 05/09/2020 to 05/10/2020

In the regions:
Festival Photo La Gacilly – La Gacilly Photo Festival – from 01/07/2020 to 31/10/2020
Carmignac Photojournalism Award – 10 years of reportage – Carmignac Art Foundation – from 04/07/2020 to 01/10/2020
Manifesta 13 – Marseille – from 28/08/2020 to 29/11/2020
The Park: Becoming a Body of Water – Consigne Sanitaire – from 25/09/2020 to 29/11/2020


Find all the articles in Impact Art News n°22 – September 2020