Unreachable Empires - dual exhibitions by Sigismond de Vajay
20 September – 18 October 2014
Gérard Jacot Art School, Belfort, France
Opening in Belfort on September 19th
curator: Philippe Cyroulnik
21 September – 8 November 2014
EAC Porrentruy, Switzerland
Opening in Porrentruy on September 20
On the occasion of a two-folded exhibition at the Espace d’Art Contemporain (les halles) in Porrentruy and at the Ecole d’art Gérard Jacot in Belfort, the artist Sigismond de Vajay, (born in Paris in 1972, based in Buenos Aires) presents his vast project entitled Unreachable Empires. Through a series of watercolors as well as objects and installations, he depicts with subtlety, poetry, and sometimes with a touch of humor, a grave and obscure world. The systems that govern the planet, the irregularities and social differences, power and global control are highlighted.
For the Espace d’Art Contemporain (les halles), Sigismond de Vajay has developed, in collaboration with architect Kevin Lesquenner, an installation that occupies the center of the space. Perched on a mountain of salt, an architect’s model is inspired by the Sphinx Observatory on the Jungfrau (the famous Swiss mountain). Europe’s highest research station embodies this unreachable empire, not only because of its location, but also because of the technological evolution it represents: from a small astrological station in its early days, it has grown into an international center for cutting-edge environmental and climate research.
Questioning the idea of progress, the work echoes the large-scale watercolors hanging on the walls of the exhibition space. Rural landscapes seen from the sky, beehives, industrial and organic structures bear witness to technological evolution and address the theme of empire in the broadest sense. The repetition of figures in some of the drawings or the serial aspect of the entire work reveal a colossal abstract machinery. The contemporary globalized world, where both the economy and information are governed at the global level, depersonalizes the system, which seems to become a fictional, uncontrollable, inaccessible entity.
With a disenchanted gaze, the subjects of Sigismund de Vajay’s works oscillate ceaselessly between the human and the machine, between the individual and the mass, in an uncertain and insecure movement. A protean artist, curator and publisher, his productions share an aesthetic of dystopia*. In Unreachable Empires, beauty does indeed come from our decadence. With a combination of humor and derision, the series uses the most effective symbolism to describe a contemporary society in a state of ruin.
* Describes, through fiction, a dehumanized and totalitarian universe in which social relations are dominated by technology and science.
A cross-border project
Unreachable Empires is a vast collaborative project that the artist is developing through drawings, installations, objects and a publication, which came out later in 2017, around the theme of empires. Architects, researchers, scientists, and writers are involved in the process.
After a first stage of the project at the Xippas gallery in Montevideo (engravings and drawings) in 2012, then at the Xippas gallery in Paris (sculptures and drawings) in 2013, the project presented in 2014 its widest form in two contemporary art institutions: the Ecole d’art Gérard Jacot in Belfort (France) and the Espace d’Art Contemporain (les halles) in Porrentruy. These two cultural structures from the Swiss Jura and Franche-Comté, meeting for the first time on the occasion of this new stage, have jointly invited Sigismond de Vajay to conceive a two-fold exhibition conceived as a whole, but specially adapted for both venues. This is the artist’s first project in Switzerland since 2003 and was created in close collaboration with the French architect, Kevin Lesquenner.