February 16, 2019 - Institut d'art contemporain, Villeurbanne/Rhône-Alpes - Daniel Steegmann Mangrané: Ne voulais prendre ni forme, ni chair, ni matière
February 16, 2019

Institut d'art contemporain, Villeurbanne/Rhône-Alpes

Daniel Steegmann Mangrané, Phasmides, 2012. Courtesy Mendes Wood DM, São Paulo and Esther Schipper, Berlin. © Daniel Steegmann Mangrané.

Daniel Steegmann Mangrané
Ne voulais prendre ni forme, ni chair, ni matière
February 20–April 28, 2019

Institut d'art contemporain, Villeurbanne/Rhône-Alpes
11 rue Docteur Dolard
69100 Villeurbanne

T +33 4 78 03 47 00
F +33 4 78 03 47 09

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Passionate about the Amazonian forest, Daniel Steegmann Mangrané, born in Spain but who lives and works in Rio de Janeiro, has created a polymorphous work (drawing, sculpture, film, installations, etc.). His arrival in Brazil in 2004 was particularly motivated by his fascination for the tropical forest—as a child he wanted to be a biologist, an entomologist or a botanist—as well as his discovery of Brazilian artists, Lygia Clark and Helio Oiticica. Also nourished by anthropology and the poems of Stela do Patrocínio, one of which inspired the title of this exhibition, Daniel Steegmann Mangrané mixes in his work, natural and cultural forms. He explores how the living is entangled with its environment, experimenting with space as an area of sensation and relationships.

Impregnated by the Amerindian perspectivism of anthropologist Eduardo Viveiros de Castro—who blurs the distinction between human and non-human—and by the thinking of Philippe Descola who strives to go beyond the Nature-Culture dualism, Daniel Steegmann Mangrané  totally and profoundly transforms the space of IAC. And so, the path of the exhibition generates new vanishing lines, changing perspectives which open out towards the exterior. Defined by a sensitive geometry, driven only by rays of natural light that penetrate the gloom, it encourages exploration and groping and fumbling, as if willing visitors to rediscover the essence of the living itself. 

The environment proposed by Daniel Steegmann Mangranébegins with and spreads out from his artwork Phasmides. Falling somewhere between a modernist and anthropologist framework, this film is centered on the Phasmid (taken from the Greek, meaning “ghost”), more commonly known as the "stick insect." The artist's unexpected encounter with this phasmid, in 2008, was decisive, as it allowed him to engage in long term research around the idea of moving beyond Western dualisms. Stretched out like a stick, unmoving like a plant, this mimetic species is a master of camouflage, blending in so well with its surroundings that it almost completely disappears. 

Phasmides, a hybrid form, between diorama and living painting, shows the phasmid appearing and disappearing like some form of living paradox. The insect reveals all of the ambivalence of its being, an unsuspected affinity between animal, plant and geometrical form, in order to propose an image which is “so very strong and so very fragile.” Evolving in environments which are in turn organic and geometric, it highlights the constantly evolving relationships that it entertains with its surroundings, cancelling out any opposition that might exist between the animate and the inanimate. Echoing Amerindian cosmology, background and figure, subject and object, nature and culture no longer appear for what they are but rather for the relationships that they stimulate.

By placing all of these relationships in space, the artist provides us with a sharp and critical tool: “if there are no more subjects nor objects, then there are no longer spectators or works of art, but rather processes of relationships of mutual transformation. Combinations of agents which influence one another.” The path proposed by Daniel Steegmann Mangranéthus constitutes an initiatory environment for the visitor, one punctuated only by the trajectory of the light. Inhabited by the phasmid, a creature with neither head nor tail, it enables one’s gaze to be shifted away from the center and allows one to play with, and test, one’s own position. The visitor is perpetually engaged in wandering along this path that has been designed for them, quite like the landscape that the artist has created for the stick insect.

Curator: Nathalie Ergino assisted by Elli Humbert

From an artistic project to an institutional one
IAC has always placed creation and research at the heart of its activities. For this project, AC has extended the limits of its capacity to adapt itself by disrupting the conditions of the exhibition, all the way to the very day to day operation of the Institute. And so, the opening hours of the exhibition changes each day. As the length of the day grows longer, exhibition opening times also increase symbolically, keeping pace with a natural rhythm. This original and unique experience emphasizes an alchemy which exists between the project and the artist and the place which hosts them both.

Institut d'art contemporain, Villeurbanne/Rhône-Alpes
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Ne voulais prendre ni forme, ni chair, ni matière
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