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For an infinite negotiation of adjusted considerations

by Marie Chênel

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For an infinite negotiation of adjusted considerations1

Entitled “Wild Diplomacy”, the current exhibition at the Centre international d’art et de paysage, Vassivière brings together the work of four artists— Suzanne Husky, Ilanit Illouz, Natsuko Uchino and Ittah Yoda— who have been given room to flourish. And what a joy it is: everyone has their own space. And despite the dispersion, it remains a question about interconnections and exchanges. Alexandra McIntosh, curator and director of the art center, draws her inspiration from the systems of collaboration found everywhere in the living world by bringing together artists that summon various forms of alliance beyond the human in their work. Given this premise, the exhibition cannot be impervious to the site of Vassivière, whose singularity astounds. One of the exhibition's successes lies precisely in the relationship between the four groups of works and the environment, whether in a very direct way through the removal of materials from the surrounding woods (Ittah Yoda, Natsuko Uchino) or in resonance with the lake's body of water (Suzanne Husky, Illanit Illouz).

The installation created for the nave by Ittah Yoda— a duo made up of Virgile Ittah and Kai Yoda— is initially captivating by the scent it emanates. Synthetic perfume intermingles with the scent emanating from an island of tuff, sound effects and windows are covered with coloured Japanese paper: the relationship with the work is sensual and total. A blend of sculpture and painting, Never the same Ocean reveals how Ittah Yoda's work weaves back and forth through time (references to prehistory and infinite possible futures), as well as the use of physical elements reinterpreted digitally (organic materials nourish the work based on various technologies, AI, 3D models, virtual reality). Since 2021, the duo has been using phytoplankton as the matrix for their work: specimens of this microorganism thought to be responsible for much of the world's oxygen production grow in glass sculptures hand-blown by artisans. Like Pierre Huyghe, among others, Ittah Yoda works towards the creation of ecosystems, in the wake of object-oriented philosophies, according to which reality can be structured independently of human consciousness.

The integration of an intimate relationship with time, both because the works carry within them references to different temporalities, and because they themselves are bound to evolve over the course of the exhibition, creates a subtle link between Ittah Yoda's installation and Ilanit Illouz's breathing, weeping prints upstairs. For several years, Ilanit Illouz has been working in the Wadi Qelt valley in the Judean desert surrounded by a natural frontier, the Dead Sea. The drying-up of the sea is matched by the inexorable disappearance of the desert, in a region at the heart of geopolitical conflicts. The artist photographs a landscape in mutation: printed, enlarged and cropped, her photographs are manipulated with salt taken from the site. Bathed, sprinkled, watered: salt acts as a developer and recalls the technical history of photography— the image is recomposed, and the link between material and support becomes consubstantial. Salt's effect on the image is to gradually turn it into an acheiropoietic, non-human-made image. For several years now, Baptiste Morizot has been calling for the development of interspecific alliances between living humans and non-humans, in particular to enhance “trajectories of transformation of territorial uses towards practices that are generous to the relationship between more emancipatory human activities and ecosystems as a whole.”2 The diplomatic metaphor lies at the heart of Suzanne Husky's research, initially inspired by Amerindian myths, on the role of the beaver in the proper functioning of an aquatic ecosystem. Embodied in a series of luminous watercolors, a film about a Vermont naturalist, and soon a manifesto in dialogue with Baptiste Morizot, his work aims to enable the effective reintroduction of beavers where they are no longer present. Embodied in a series of luminous watercolors, a film about a Vermont environmentalist— and soon to be manifesto in dialogue with Baptiste Morizot— her work aims to enable the effective reintroduction of beavers where they are no longer present.

While Suzanne Husky proposes to reintroduce a species that has been too widely discarded for its essential role in repairing water-stressed areas, Natsuko Uchino makes a friendly gesture towards a species whose production has been rationalized to our advantage. In the Vassivière lighthouse, the artist presents several prototypes of horizontal beehives, based on a Kenyan model. Although less accessible to those wishing to harvest the honey, the horizontal hive is closer to the natural swarm, as if the artist were trying to get as close as possible to the bees' Umwelt3, their own world, in order to concretely contribute to their preservation. 

In their latest book, Kantuta Quiros and Aliocha Imhoff4 explore how an infinite number of beings have joined the enunciative scene since contemporary thought entered the Anthropocene. The exhibition “Wild Diplomacy” brilliantly echoes this: art can be the place from which to reformulate political enunciation, reflecting on a diversity of inclusive devices and forms of diplomacy, with the aim, perhaps, of contributing to a more habitable world.


Marie Chênel 

Notes

  1. « Des usages plus délicats, dotés des égards ajustés. C’est ici le nouveau mot d’ordre pour agir politiquement dans ce siècle, car il n’y a que des interdépendances ; or, la seule politique décente des interdépendances est la négociation infinie des égards ajustés, contre toutes les pratiques insoutenables. » Baptiste Morizot, Raviver les braises du vivant, Un front commun, coédition Actes Sud / Wildproject, 2020, p. 152.
  2. Ibid, p. 149.
  3. Jakob von Uexküll, Milieu animal et milieu humain, éd. Payot rivages, 2010.
  4. Aliocha Imhoff et Kantuta Quiros, Qui parle ? (pour les non-humains), éd. Puf, 2022.







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