The exhibition Rituals. presents a set of works which, through their signification or the process of their creation, manifest the possibility of a contemporary celebration of nature.
How do some artists convey forces supposedly « superior » or escaping reason thanks to traditional or modern material means? How do they express the imperative that incites humans to extol or honor their environment to earn divine benevolence, gain animal strength or ward off the violence of death?
Rituals are characterized by a double movement with respect to nature. The initial movement consists in « taking a step back » to observe or contemplate nature, describe it, make it « possible »: nature is narrated as its origins and organization are discovered. This is the function of the myth.
A subsequent movement involves getting closer to nature in a way, trying to act upon it through deeply significant actions tied to the myths they make visible: this is the role of the ritual, which comprises words uttered, gestures accomplished and objects manipulated.
By way of homage to Lévi-Strauss, and so as to remain faithful to his thought, no explanation that would too specific will be provided for the exhibition Rituals.: no piece comes to account for another one, yet all the practices staged here or manifested there are as many facets in a possible unity of the exhibition.
Indeed, a myth is the totality of its variants: « There is no good version [of a myth], nor is there an authentic or primitive form: all the versions should be taken seriously. » (1)
Accordingly, only a few directions for investigation will be suggested by way of main threads:
– the eulogy, the mystery, and the mystique of the animal kingdom in works by Julien Salaud, Théo Mercier, Markus Hansen or Alexandre Joly;
– the contemplative aimless walk in the woods, in Alex Pou’s Grand Capricorne, a video work freely inspired from ermit Knud Viktor, who according to legend could hear everything – from worms eating into the trees to meteorites entering the atmosphere;
– the contemplation of the phases of the moon, painted in a systematic manner by Ann Craven, who places her easel outdoors at night (moons series, « Shadows Moon »).
– symbolic or fantastical representations of the cosmos and life (Vidya Gastaldon’s watercolors, Julien Salaud’s drawings).
Structured as an immersive and perhaps initiatory journey, the exhibition puts the works in a synesthetic relation through formal gestures, tones, practices or echoes that at some point invite the spectator – for the time of a crossing – to leave urban reality and take part in this illusory ceremony.
Gaël Charbau, March 2011
(1) Claude Lévi-Strauss, interview with Didier Eribon.