Pays rêvé, pays revers presents works by four artists who reflect, from a political imaginary of the border, on the global cultural flows that point to a world in redesign.
In the contemporary context of globalisation, the dynamics of capital promote intense displacements of objects, people, and ideas. Mercantile logic crosses borders imposing optimization, quantification, productivity, and profitability criteria. How do these transits materialise on individual and collective subjectivities? In the landscape, seen as a lived space-time reality, endowed with symbolic and political characteristics?
With works by Ayesha Hameed, Daniel Jablonski, Noara Quintana, and Sofía Salazar Rosales, the exhibition weaves poetic reflections on the relations between Latin America and Europe since the 19th century and its contemporary developments.
Some of the themes dealt with in the exhibition are the importation of Art Nouveau by Brazilian modernism; the latex trade in France, an Amazon indigenous exploitation; the modernization of Ecuador resulting in an urban aesthetic conflict between reinforced concrete, wood, and bamboo cane; the relationship between climate change and plantation economies; the fiction of origin in historically "othered" cultures; and the condition of being an immigrant abroad.
Juliana Caffé (Brazil) is in residence at the Cité internationale des arts through the “2-12” programme.
Ayesha Hameed, Black Atlantis: the Plantationocene, 2020-2023, lecture-performance on February 22, 2023 at 6.30 pm, Auditorium
In Ayesha Hameed’s lecture-performances, themes related to displacements and borders, migratory movements, and trade, offer poetic reflections on the relationships between human beings. Black Atlantis: the Plantationocene, a live audiovisual essay performed by the artist, part of the trade route between two Caribbean islands located at the heart of the Atlantic triangular trade: a former plantation in St George’s Parish in Barbados, and the port city of Port of Spain in Trinidad, to reflect on the links between climate change and plantation economies. Evoking the plantationocene concept of Donna Haraway and Anna Tsing, Ayesha proposes as a metaphorical thread the materiality of the sea and what she calls an ‘‘aqueous plantation’’.
Ayesha Hameed (UK) is in residence through the "Art Explora x Cité internationale des arts" programme.
Daniel Jablonski, discussion with the artist about his work Hy Brazil on February 22, 2023, 7:30 pm, Petite Galerie
Hy Brazil by Daniel Jablonski traces a cartography of the colonial imagination, between myth, fantasy, and self-deception. Reflecting on historically ‘‘othered’’ cultures, the artist draws inspiration from a ghost island, called Brazil (or Bressail, O’Brazil, Bracil, Bracir, etc.) even before the discovery of America. Present on practically all European maps between 1325 and 1870, Brazil was located at various points in the North Atlantic, ranging from the coast of Ireland to Canada. Its form also varied considerably, always based on hypotheses and travelers’ reports. In his installation, Jablonski reproduces 46 of these historical shapes in Brazilian Muirapiranga wood. This is officially known as ‘False Pau-Brasil’, due to its coloration close to that of the tree, whose red pigment gave its name to the South American country. Beyond the simple homonymy between territories, there is something to be learned from these mistakes: ‘‘When seen from afar, outside or above, Brazil does not seem to be anything more than a desert island waiting for a coloniser, a virgin significant waiting for a redemptive discourse. Its concrete existence does nothing to change its essentially ghostly status. After all, today as yesterday, no reality has ever prevented the wildest ghosts of desire and the unconscious from flourishing and proliferating there’’.
Daniel Jablonski (Brazil) was in residence at the Cité internationale des arts in 2021.
In Evenings of Water, Noara Quintana investigates the historical links between Brazil and Europe. For example, Belém do Pará, a city in the Brazilian Amazon, became known at the end of the 19th century as the Paris of the Tropics, due to the use in its architecture of typical motifs from the French Belle Époque as well as other European botanical motifs. The city’s modernity was only possible due to the resources derived from the latex trade, an indigenous Brazilian exploitation that, at the time, was largely used by the European consumer goods industry. If Art Nouveau’s principle was to resemble the forms of nature, in Noara Quintana’s work, an everyday object wrapped in latex resembles Amazonian forms.
The night-time installation reproduces the Victoria-Regia, an Amazonian plant named after Queen Victoria that only blooms once the sun has set. In the 19th century, the Victoria-Régia was transported to Kew Gardens, in London, the same botanical garden where the smuggled seeds of the Havea brasilinesis rubber tree, which produces latex, were first germinated. At Kew, gardener and architect Joseph Paxton immersed himself in a profound research of the floating lily’s structure. Inspired by this study, he designed London’s Crystal Palace in 1851 - a technologically innovative landmark of modern architecture - by replicating in metal and glass the functionality of the ribbed structure of the Vitória-Régia and its relationship with the water’s surface. By reversing the processes of appropriation, Noara Quintana reveals not only how transits reverberate multiple movements, but also ethno-cultural erasures promoted by colonial economic policies.
Noara Quintana (Brazil) was in residence at the Cité internationale des arts in 2020-2021.
Sofía Salazar Rosales
In Sofía Salazar Rosales' sculptures, the relationship between the materials used and their signifiers is the starting point for affective reflections. In Meeting space(s), she reproduces in cement a set of mats typical of Latin America, woven in vegetable fibers. The overlapping gesture alludes to the modernization of the port city of Guayaquil, in Ecuador, which with the arrival of European builders in the early 20th century saw wood and bamboo cane quickly replaced by reinforced concrete. However, features of vernacular architecture still survive, even in the modern buildings. This essence of something that resists is used by the artist as a metaphorical thread to build on her condition as a foreigner. The cemented mats, used in her studio as the base for other works, allude here to her attempt to preserve something that is structural to her in the world.
In another set of cement sculptures, the artist reproduces construction and planting equipment. In the installation, however, these devices are bent and tired. Treated with affection by the artist, who handles the objects with pads of gauze and cocoa butter to hydrate and warm them, they are like transitional objects, deeply related to her process of separation from her homeland, as well as to the need to, as she says, ‘‘take root’’. The weight of carrying a seed around the neck references Léonora Miano’s vision of frontier identities anchored in a permanent space by care and affection, not rupture.
Sofía Salazar Rosales (Ecuador/Cuba) is currently studying toward a master’s degree at the School of Fine Arts (ENSBA Paris). She holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree with distinction from the School of Fine Arts of Lyon (ENSBA Lyon).