The winter exhibition season in France is a precious opportunity to apprehend the ecological upheavals underway, and to discover how artists are increasingly engaging with subjects related to the environment and nature. While cultural institutions question their practices, including the Museum of Modern Art, Paris with its programme “Décroître est un moment de création” (‘Degrowth is a time for creation’), galleries are happily inaugurating a new chapter in the history of art, with researcher and art historian Guillaume Logé, for example, announcing nothing less than a new form of perspective that incorporates the living world. The many exhibitions currently on show are an invitation to strengthen our interdependence in order to face the future together.
What’s on at the regional level
A new generation of engaged artists is heralding an art of relationship and presence in the world. The duo G&K (Stéphane Guiran and Katarzina Kot) connect and dialogue with the Great Living Ones as they present their experience of the Vatnajökull glacier at the Pierre-Alain Challier gallery. Their way of experiencing the space reveals a creative ‘connective’ process. At the Drawing Lab, Paris, Noémie Sauve, in collaboration with curator Anne de Malleray, presents works created following her expedition on board the scientific boat Tara and on the Italian island of Vulcano. Jean-Baptiste Perret* investigates the unusual and interdependent nature of living beings. His three films, following his work on the Gorges de l’Allier, are being shown at the Salle Principale gallery in Paris, where their collaboration first started.
Moving on to Haute-Savoie, the Point Commun in Annecy, from 25 November, invites Julia Gault to present 1387 jours, an artistic work that warns of an imminent threat – the drying up of Lake Annecy. In Annemasse, at the Villa du Parc, Eric Giraudet de Boudemange, in residence in 2022, is also exploring the water cycle in his artistic work. At the art centre, visitors are immersed in an environment where the virtues of water can be felt on the body. These field experiments are symptomatic of a need to take a fresh look at the world around us.
Natural materials, symbiosis, harvesting and experiencing the landscape
Symptomatic of a movement of gallery owners increasingly concerned with environmental issues, since 4 February 2023 the gallery Jeanne Bucher Jaeger has been staging a triptych of exhibitions focusing on enchantment, time, the environment, landscape and markings. Currently on show is Les Yeux du Ciel, a monumental work of art by artist-architect Antoine Grumbach. The same goes for Galerie Jousse Entreprise, who has given Guillaume Logé carte blanche for a manifesto exhibition entitled “Symbiotic perspective: a new form of perspective in art”. The art historian contributes to a fertile breeding ground for artistic and philosophical reflections on our sensitivity to living things. Bringing together works by Art Orienté Objet, Michel Blazy, Jérémy Gobé*, Chloé Jeanne*, among others, this exhibition takes a symbiotic approach to contemporary creation.
Since the 23th of November, Lélia Demoisy has been exhibiting at the By Lara Sedbon gallery, also strongly focused on environmental themes, with a new body of work exploring the relationship between plants and animals, the life cycle, and markings left on wood. The gallery manager, Hélène Geber, is also the curator of Hodos, at the Graf Notaires gallery, an exhibition to which she has invited Mathilde Cazes, Snezana Gerbault, Vincent Laval*, Wiktoria*, among others.
Also in Paris, opening on 9 December, Marie Denis’ Nos natures exhibition takes place in two spaces at the Alberta Pane gallery, with recent or revisited works on one side, showing a fragile, ‘intranquil’ nature, and on the other, a film produced in collaboration with film-maker and artist Vladimir Vatsev. Once again, the artists place their trust in their encounters.
Relationships with the non-human: animals, plants, and the earth
New artistic attitudes incorporating natural materials lead us towards a connection with the non-human living. At the Karsten Greve gallery, Claire Morgan presents for the first time a work in which the human figure appears in relation to dead animals. Artists also continue to question our views on the plant kingdom: Mehdi-Georges Lahlou‘s exhibition La conférence des palmiers (‘The palm tree’s conference’) at the Centre d’art Le Parvis, Tarbes, is a good example; Jean-François Krebs sees a possible fusion between humans and plants – Kommet, Lyon, hosts his latest exhibition. Pauline Oliveros inaugurates a new space at the Fondation Ricard, inviting us to listen to the depths of the earth. The artothèque in Caen is hosting Suzanne Husky‘s long-term project: an experiment in rehabilitating beavers in wetlands. This movement to get closer to living beings continues to grow. Hence the research equally being undertaken by a new generation of curators: On 20 January, for example, the exhibition “En poussière”, curated by Andréanne Beguin at La Graineterie, Houilles, will bring together artists Lucie Douriaud* and Dominique Ghesquière. The new year ahead promises interesting new changes.
New methods of creation are emerging, from collaboration with living things, to the giving of new meaning to territories. Alternative definitions of landscape as a subject of attention are materalising, whilst plants and animals are increasingly being given a voice. Inherent in the experience of works by a new generation of young artists, and others whose artistic approach is pioneering, are sensations heralding the era of the Symbiocene, as envisaged by Glenn Albrecht.
List of exhibitions mentioned in the article
More exhibitions to see:
Cover : Exhibition view, Dent creuse et peau neuve by Lélia Demoisy, Galerie By Lara Sedbon, ©Lélia Demoisy .
Impact Art News, Nov-Dec 2023 #46
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