arts and cultures

We trees. At the Cartier Foundation

Bringing together a community of artists, botanists and philosophers, the Cartier Foundation for Contemporary Art echoes the most recent scientific research that takes a fresh look at trees. We the Trees is organized around several major groups of works and lets the voices of those who have woven, through their aesthetic or scientific career, a strong and intimate link with trees be heard. The exhibition is an opportunity to highlight the beauty and biological richness of these remarkable protagonists of the living world, who are now massively threatened. With the success of the exhibition from the outset, it will run until January 5, 2020, and offers new surprises. 
Organized around several major groups of works, the exhibition We the Trees lets the multiple voices of those who have developed, through their aesthetic or scientific career, a strong and intimate link with trees be heard, and who highlight the beauty and biological richness of these great protagonists of the living world today massively threatened.
After having long been undervalued by biology, trees - like the entire plant kingdom - have in recent decades been the subject of scientific discoveries that allow us to take a new look at these oldest members of the community of living things. Sensory capacities, communication skills, development of memory, symbiosis with other species and climatic influence: the revelation of these faculties invites us to put forward the fascinating hypothesis of a "plant intelligence" that could provide elements of an answer to many of today's environmental challenges.
In resonance with this "plant revolution", the exhibition Nous les Trees crosses the reflections of artists and researchers, thus extending the exploration of ecological issues and the relationship between man and nature, which regularly inhabits the programming of the Fondation Cartier, as was recently the case with The Great Orchestra of the Animals (2016).
Bringing together drawings, paintings, photographs, films and installations by artists from Latin America, Europe, the United States and Iran, as well as from indigenous communities such as the Nivaklé and Guaranídu Gran Chaco in Paraguay and the Yanomami Indians living in the heart of the Amazonian forest, the exhibition's journey, punctuated by several large groups of works, unfolds three narrative threads: that of the knowledge of trees - from botany to the new plant biology; that of their aesthetics - from naturalistic contemplation to dreamlike transposition; and finally that of their devastation - from documentary observation to artistic testimony.
Orchestrated with anthropologist Bruce Albert, who has accompanied the Cartier Foundation's curiosity since the exhibition Yanomami, the Spirit of the Forest (2003), the project revolves around the presence of personalities who have developed a singular relationship with trees - be it intellectual, scientific or aesthetic. Thus, botanist Stefano Mancuso, a pioneer of plant neurobiology and defender of the notion of plant intelligence, co-signs with Thijs Biersteker, an installation that "gives voice" to trees and which, thanks to a series of sensors, reveals their reaction to the environment or pollution, the phenomenon of photosynthesis, root communication or the idea of a plant memory, making the invisible visible. Also among the great figures who construct the exhibition's subject, the botanist-traveller Francis Hallé, whose sketchbooks combine the draftsman's amazement at the trees with the precision of his intimate knowledge of plants, bears witness to the encounter between science and the sensitive. At the heart of the exhibition's thinking, the relationship between man and tree becomes the subject of Raymond Depardon's film, which, through the words of those around them, paints the portrait of the plane trees or oaks that shade the village squares and with which are associated many memories, from the most personal to the most historical. As a sowing artist - he has planted some 300,000 tree seeds in his Vendée valley - Fabrice Hyber offers, in his paintings, a poetic and personal observation of the plant world, questioning the principles of rhizome growth, energy and mutation, mobility and metamorphosis. Guided more by the aesthetics of an intuitive collection than by the search for scientific rigour, the Brazilian artist Luis Zerbini, for his part, composes lush landscapes, organising the imaginary meeting of trees borrowed from tropical botanical gardens and signs of urban modernity.
This pictorial exuberance is answered by the conceptual and systematic inventory of the architect Cesare Leonardi who, with the complicity of Franca Stagi, draws up a typology of trees, their shadows and chromatic variations, in a precious corpus gathered for the design of urban parks. The ghostly silhouettes of Johanna Calle's tall trees evoke, with poetry and delicacy, the fragility of these giants threatened by irreversible deforestation. The drama of the destruction of the planet's large forest areas, evoked notably by the film EXIT by architects Diller Scofidio + Renfro, is followed by the dreamlike world of Paraguayan filmmaker Paz Encina, which proposes an internalized image of the tree as a refuge for memory and childhood.
A natural extension of the exhibition, the garden, created in 1994 by the artist Lothar Baumgarten for the Fondation Cartier, invites visitors to stroll in contact with the trees which, like the majestic Lebanese cedar planted by Chateaubriand in 1823, inspired Jean Nouvel to create an architecture of reflections and transparency, which plays on the dialogue between inside and outside and gives rise to "furtive emotions". Nestled in the vegetation in a discreet double of nature, keeping the trace of the artist's hand on its trunk, Giuseppe Penone's bronze tree has found its place in the garden of the Fondation Cartier, which is hosting the sculpture that Agnès Varda had specially imagined for this project for the exhibition. Finally, in the fall, the Theatrum Botanicum will become, for a week, the natural support for a video installation by Tony Oursler.
Returning the tree to the place that anthropocentrism had taken away from it, We the Trees brings together the artistic and scientific testimonies of those who look at the plant world with wonder and reveal that, in the words of the philosopher Emanuele Coccia, "there is nothing purely human, there is plant in everything human, there is the tree at the origin of all experience".
With the works of :
Efacio Álvarez, Herman Álvarez, Fernando Allen, Fredi Casco, Claudia Andujar, Eurides Asque Gómez, Thijs Biersteker, José Cabral, Johanna Calle, Jorge Carema, Alex Cerveny, Raymond Depardon, Claudine Nougaret, Diller Scofidio + Renfro, Mark Hansen, Laura Kurgan, Ben Rubin, Robert Gerard Pietrusko , Ehuana Yaira, Paz Encina, Charles Gaines, Francis Hallé, Fabrice Hyber, Joseca, Clemente Juliuz, Kalepi, Salim Karami, Mahmoud Khan, Angélica Klassen, Esteban Klassen, George Leary Love, Cesare Leonardi, Franca Stagi, Stefano Mancuso, Sebastián Mejía, Ógwa, Marcos Ortiz, Tony Oursler, Giuseppe Penone, Santídio Pereira, Nilson Pimenta, Osvaldo Pitoe, Miguel Rio Branco, Afonso Tostes, Agnès Varda, Adriana Varejão, Cássio Vasconcellos , Luiz Zerbini.
Exhibition Commissioners : Bruce Albert, Hervé Chandès, Isabelle Gaudefroy
Associated Commissioners Hélène Kelmachter, Juliette Lecorne, Marie Perennes


Nights of Uncertainty 

Wednesday, October 16th, 8:00 p.m: The Night of the Forest, with Efacio Álvarez and Clemente Juliuz, nivaclé artists of the Paraguayan Gran Chaco.

Traveling for the first time outside Paraguay, Efacio Álvarez and Clemente Juliuz share with us, during this exceptional evening, the richness of their culture and testify to the irreversible changes in their environment and their traditional ways of life on behalf of their community.
Screening of the documentary Como pez en el monte [Like a Fish in the Forest] directed by Fernando Allen and Fredi Casco.
Meeting moderated by anthropologist and curator Ursula Regehr and photographer Fernando Allen.

Friday, October 18, from 5 to 10 p.m.: The Infinite Maintenance, directed by Hans Ulrich Obrist

Hans Ulrich Obrist will meet artists, scientists and philosophers who have developed a strong and intimate connection with trees and who are, for the most part, associated with the exhibition. We Trees.
With Emanuele Coccia (philosopher), Bernie Krause (musician and bioacoustician), Tony Oursler (artist)...

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This new Infinite Interview will also be an opportunity to present the book bringing together all the interviews conducted by Hans Ulrich Obrist at the Cartier Foundation since 2014. A signature will be proposed at the end of the evening.

New at : Nomad Evening from October 15 to 20, from 7 to 10 pm

Until 20 October, an extra night is also offered on Thursdays (until 10 pm).).
Inauguration on October 15 in the presence of the artist Tony Oursler, " Eclipse "Pioneer of video art, the American artist Tony Oursler exhibits his ingenious devices between sculpture, installation and performance all over the world.

As part of the exhibition Nous les Arbres, Tony Oursler creates Eclipsea monumental video installation projected onto the trees of the Cartier Foundation's garden. At nightfall, come and rediscover the garden metamorphosed by the artist's phantasmagorical imagination.


Exhibition We trees - Fondation Cartier pour l'art contemporain, from July 12 to January 5, 2020 - 261 boulevard Raspail - 75014 Paris
Header photo : Work of Salim Karami - Untitled

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