July 26, 2007 - Centre international d'art et du paysage, Vassivière Island - Cyprien Gaillard
July 26, 2007

Cyprien Gaillard

Cyprien Gaillard
Homes & Graves & Gardens

July 15 to October 21, 2007

curator Chiara Parisi

Centre international d’art et du paysage
Ile de Vassivière F – 87120
t: (+33) 05 55 69 27 27
f: (+33) 05 55 69 29 31
e: communication [​at​] ciapiledevassiviere.com
Open daily from 11am to 7pm


The Centre international d’art et du paysage de l’île de Vassivière presents Homes & Graves & Gardens, the first exhibition at an Art Center by the young French artist Cyprien Gaillard.
Homes & Graves & Gardens establishes a continuity between the history of the landscape and that of the island of Vassivière; the villages which were flooded after the building of the dam at the end of the 1940′s, which have become underwater tombs; and the garden created on the island, which was mutilated by the storm at the end of the 1990′s.

Conceived as a sum of analogies made between different sites — from the housing projects of the Parisian suburbs to Mayan cities, from the lake of Vassivière to the lakes of Yosemite, from the cemeteries of Glasgow to French parks of ruins — Homes & Graves & Gardens seeks to implicate viewers in a dimension which is as physical as it is mental. The artist’s aim to is to give the island a new dynamic — from the word dynamite, derived from the Greek dynamikos = force — by offering viewers the possibility of experiencing a day and night of experimentation on an island which has become experimental, where all the aspects of the exhibition will be apprehended according to variable durations and modes.

Starting on the day of the opening, July 14, the Art Center was held “hostage” through the conception of a series of events experienced as experiments of which the very structure induces the possibility of failure.

The lighthouse contained an “indoor fireworks show”, which the viewer can only experience through the sounds and traces of the explosions. Resulting from the same experimental logic, a large wall of sound, buried in the forest, emitted a mix of classical music pieces which accompanied viewers as they move through the park. Conceived as a sonic architecture for the sculpture park, the classical music give way at midnight to a concert by Koudlam a frequent collaborator of the artist and the composer of the original soundtrack of the film Desniansky Raion.Cyprien Gaillard’s proposal is liked to the theme of the instantaneous, to experimentation devoid of concessions or illusions. This position evokes the work the Roman Signer in which potential is condensed at the moment when an incident occurs — in this case an explosion — in other words the moment where the past coagulates with the present moment in order to oppose the menacing force of nature.

The facade of the Center was masked by a line of trees, cut down on the island for the occasion. Leaning against one side of the building, these dead trees block the entrance, profoundly modifying the building’s appearance.

Cyprien Gaillard has chosen to plunge the exhibition into a nocturnal atmosphere which evokes the scenography of the Wünderkammern, or certain historical collections like that of Francois I or those of natural history museums. In this environment objects are exhibited which are dead or on the verge of ruin, vestiges of a glorious past and unique memories of vanished lives.
Homes & Graves & Gardens establishes a striking contrast between the basic structures of the postmodern architecture of the Art Center and its interior designed by Aldo Rossi, and its transformation into a grotto, a hypogeum, a cabinet of marvels.

The visitor enters into the great nave where around three hundred Polaroids are presented in display cases: the Geographical Analogies, which are confronted with the projection of the film Real Remnants of Fictive Wars part IV, filmed in the dense vegetation of Vietnam.

The project Real Remnants of Fictive Wars consists of five 35mm films. In each film the artist, accompanied by several accomplices, inflicts violence on landscapes — which are paradoxically reminiscent of Romantic painting — by using fire extinguishers which release a thick white smoke that is like a heavy menace. If the viewer is at first seduced by the esthetics of the film, he only later becomes aware of the gesture which generated the work, i.e. an act of vandalism which finds its legitimacy in behavior which is authorized by the art world.

The salle des études contains the cover of the record Milestones by Roy Orbison, released in 1973, the year of Robert Smithson’s death. Placed under five layers of matte board, the recto verso image represents a series of graffiti on rocks in the American desert, as if they were archeological digs.

The little theater presents a video, The Lake Arches, which is particularly dear to the artist. A group of friends are gathered on the edge of a lake with the emblematic architecture of Ricardo Bofill in the background. This video is a “portrait with ruins” which becomes alive with the image of the bloodied face of one of the young men, a wound resulting from a disastrous fall. The film, which takes on the tone of Greek tragedy, possesses the ambiguous charm of that which escapes definition, eliding any tentative to qualify its status. The scene fascinates through its incongruous violence and at the same time is endlessly seductive at the esthetic level. The water, the origin of life and symbol of innocence, is associated with the architecture present in the background, a second element which impinges on the youth of one of the protagonists.

On the occasion of the exhibition Homes & Graves & Gardens, a catalog will be published by Silvana Editoriale (Milan) under the artistic direction of Paola Manfrin.
Cyprien Gaillard was born in 1980. He lives and works in Paris.
He has recently shown his work at the Jeu de Paume and the galerie Cosmic in Paris, as well as at the Laura Bartlett Gallery in London.
The Centre international d’art et du paysage is financed by the Ministère de la culture et de la communication / Drac Limousin and the Conseil régional du Limousin and receives the support of the Conseil général de la Creuse and the Syndicat mixte régional et interdépartemental de Vassivière en Limousin (SYMIVA).

The exhibition Homes & Graves & Gardens was produced in partnership with Naturalia and Pro Natura.

Centre international d'art et du paysage, Vassivière Island
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