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Water as a myth, mirror and medium of art at Auberge Resorts

Presented by Collection Garance Primat and curated by Claudia Paetzold, the exhibition Primordial Waters in Massignac, France, examines water as the foundation of life.

by Sakhi SobtiPublished on : Jul 30, 2023

In the quaint French town of Massignac stands Domaine des Etangs, owned by entrepreneur and philanthropist Garance Primat, currently exhibiting Primordial Waters, curated by Claudia Paetzold. Originating in a hospitality space, the art exhibition cultivates a sensorial experience that unfolds as a creation myth common to many cultures and civilisations. The myth suggests that the world, as we know it today, arose from a cosmic ocean. The Auberge Resorts establishment envelopes seven lakes, and perhaps the exhibition Primordial Waters advocates for an interpretation of this hospitality space as a microcosm for rebirth or restoration. The exhibition opened on June 21, 2023, with art conceptually inspired by water, corresponding to the estate Lakeland ecology. As the year unfolds, the exhibition is curatorially formatted to feature artistic commissions in sync with equinoxes and other cosmic highlights.

Primordial Waters explores the nature of water as the origin of life and a symbol for the interconnectedness of all things throughout time. The works on display will invite us to reflect on our existence within the larger cycles of life, attuning visitors to the rhythms of nature," mentions Claudia Paetzold in an official statement.

Installation view of <em>Primordial Waters</em> at Domaine des Etangs, 2023 | Primordial Waters | STIRworld
Installation view of Primordial Waters at Domaine des Etangs, 2023 Image: Arthur Péquin

The amalgamation of this collection can be credited to artists Nina Cannell, Tomoko Sauvage, Daniel Steegmann Mangrané, Sissel Tolaa and Tomás Saraceno—who are guided by the natural world for creative inspiration. For Primordial Waters, these contemporary artists reiterate water as a myth, mirror, and medium of performative and sculptural art, which meditatively appeals to the human senses. The performative, sculptural, luminous, sonorous, and olfactive installations are meant to metaphysically rouse the elemental waters within us, subtly echoing imaginative, reflective, and restorative capacities in our individual and collective existence. It provokes a sense of belonging, inviting the visitors to feel grounded amidst the grander scheme of things. It is a conceptual intervention on water's role, which has determined the flow of our anthropological past, present, and future, refracted in ways that complement our contemporary sensibilities.

For Floating Bells and Amplified Lake (where centenary mussels dwell), 2023, Tomoko Sauvage| Primordial Waters | STIRworld
For Floating Bells and Amplified Lake (where centenary mussels dwell), 2023, Tomoko Sauvage Image: Arthur Péquin

Tomoko Sauvage opened the exhibition with an embodied art experience that was congruent with the acoustics of the estate. This entailed six performance artists who rang standing bells sourced from different parts of Asia while staying afloat in one of the seven lakes at Domaine. The echoes of the deep frequencies were amplified by hydrophones installed on the lake bed, making for a meditative, ethereal, and immersive sound installation titled For Floating Bells and Amplified Lake (where centenary mussels dwell) (2023).

Fantomas, 2023, Daniel SteegmannMangrané | Primordial Waters | STIRworld
Fantomas, 2023, Daniel Steegmann Mangrané Image: Arthur Péquin

Further, in the estate's art gallery, Daniel Steegmann Mangrané's minimalist, conceptual art installation, titled Fantomas, hangs and aims to dissolve the presumed dichotomy between nature and culture. Five slender, perceivable only in the slightest, aluminium chains are suspended from the ceiling to the floor; this delicate and fragile art installation reminds us that water is a shapeshifter. The installation facilitates a perceptual blur of a two and three-dimensional white-cube view. In addition, each of these chains is further punctuated with an elusive metal symbol, bisecting each chain; this, too, permeates the prerogative of the nature vs. culture dichotomy, taking a plunge into naturally founded shapes and anthropologically invented signs. The installation's title in English translating to Phantom, is illusionary, and in the coming months, will give rise to another commission by Mangrané which will also be a testament to the exhibition as an evolving perceptual experience.

NEWS sinking {IN}formation, 2023, SisselTolaas| Primordial Waters | STIRworld
NEWS sinking {IN}formation, 2023, Sissel Tolaas Image: Arthur Péquin

One of the experiential art projects for this exhibition is N-E-W-S sinking {IN}formation, an abbreviation of cardinal directions referring to the Domain's oldest lake's coordinates from where artist Sissel Tolaas extracted water samples. From these samples, Tolaas used molecular data to recreate the smell of the water. The olfactory evocation corresponds with the tidal movements of the water bodies on the estate. Tolaas manipulates the built environment, playing with air-conditioning to elevate the olfactory essence of the water, fostered by her practice.

Days of Inertia, 2023, Nina Canell| Primordial Waters | STIRworld
Days of Inertia, 2023, Nina Canell Image: Arthur Péquin

In Nina Cannell's Days of Inertia, a veil of water drops on impactites—metamorphic rocks that have evolved from a meteor that struck Domaine 260 million years ago. The materiality of Cannell's sculptural installation effortlessly seeps into the theory of the myth of creation, as it alludes that meteorites provided the primordial waters for life's origins. While the water surface appears inert, it subtly reflects the atmospheric pressure and changing light of the surroundings, making the intangible visible.

Among the other exhibits, Olafur Eliasson's work emphasises water as a fundamental life connector, and Pamela Rosenkranz, Yves Klein, and Tomás Saraceno echo the interconnectedness of life and nature through their installations.

Installation view of Primordial Waters, 2023, Tomas Saraceno| Primordial Waters | STIRworld
Installation view of Primordial Waters, 2023, Tomas Saraceno Image: Arthur Péquin

‘Primordial Waters’ will run until March 22, 2024, with further commissions and activations set to be revealed around each of the equinoxes, as the exhibition evolves with the changing seasons.

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