Shimabuku at Centre international d’art et du paysage Vassiviere island

The Centre international d’art et du paysage on Vassivière Island welcomes until May 6th, 2012 the solo exhibition Man should try to avoid contact with alien life forms by Japanese artist Shimabuku.

After conducting exhibitions and projects in this unique island landscape for seven years, Chiara Parisi asked Shimabuku to create works that would resist any exhibition constraint and propose a whole new way of relating to nature and animals.

On Vassivière Island, Shimabuku presents his most recent works, along with new productions that play on details, sounds and the origins of their names, and weave together an absolutely unique world. Shimabuku wishes his viewers to engage in “situations” that could later be told to others, thus becoming fables, tales, stories and possibly life-changing events.

Arriving in the meadow facing the Art centre, the visitor can get a sense of the whole project when he reads the title sentence Man should try to avoid contact with alien life forms, as a neon sign along the front wall of the main Aldo Rossi’s building. This quote, borrowed from the British cosmologist Stephen Hawking, reverses the author’s fear that aliens would conquer and colonize the earth. Here, the artist is inviting us to open up on what’s around us here on Earth, our neighbours, even animals, before trying to contact alien life forms.

In the first space of this exhibition, the lighthouse, the visitor is drawn to look ahead into the following rooms of the Art center through a balanced object letting us enter a constellation of natural elements.

Then the visitor enters the nave of the building, where Shimabuku transforms the imposing space into a place calling for an amused discovery with Something that Floats/Something that Sinks: the stream of a river drags and spins around little vegetal forms that the artist particularly likes: apples and potatoes. It seems like Shimabuku wishes to strike the public with a burlesque action, not unlike La Fontaine’s Fables—for instance The Hare and the Turtle.

Further down from the nave, in the studio, the artist re-considers Shimabuku’s Fish & Chips with an installation that places the viewer far below sea level: a video shows a potatoes sinking in water to end up in the abyss with a translucent fish. In the meantime, the viewer can feel under his feet a soft and immaculate carpet recalling the sand from the projected work.

On the first floor, the study room becomes the home of My teacher Tortoise which places the visitor in contact with this unexpected and incongruous animal in a gallery space, a typical mythological being and a central figure in the artist’s body of works. The tortoise presence is like an occasion to let time slow down for a bit and enjoy the moment while it passes. The long-lived tortoise has always been a symbol for immortality and wisdom; here, it also appears as an emblem for Shimabuku’s work in Vassivière.

Doing something you didn’t plan to do, is the title of the work presented by the artist in the little theatre in the form of a golf range. From a cage, the visitors can test the strength of their swing, while others sit on the stairs of the auditorium and witness the performance they will have to do later on. The target, the specific location to aim at, is the little window overlooking the dam that created the lake and the island.

The visitors are invited to continue their journey in the sculpture wood where Shimabuku invites them to meet the everyday inhabitants of Vassivière: the animals. The artist reverses the traditional setting of a zoological garden: he plants a sign in a meadow reading “Make animals smile”, so humans would trade their usual roles with the animals inhabiting the island, by being for once an entertainment to them.

The tour ends in the Café de l’île, at the end of the building, where the visitors can enjoy Shimabuku’s ice cream recipe, Ice Cream With Salt/Ice Cream with Pepper.

At the same time, Shimabuku will also be present in France with a solo exhibition at the CAPC – Bordeaux Contemporary Art Museum, until February 6, 2012. Entitled On the water, his project has been realized during his residency in the capital of Gironde and on the muddy waters of the river Garonne.

For his solo exhibition in Vassivière, Shimabuku created a book with designer Hattori Kazunari entitled Shimabuku 2011 which features a conversation between Chiara Parisi and the artist, and a text by Pierre Joseph. It is co-published by the Centre international d’art et du paysage and Silvana Editoriale.

Centre international d’art et du paysage
Alexandra Bordes
tel.: +33 (0)5 55 69 27 27
fax: +33 (0)5 55 69 29 31

Centre international d’art et du paysage
Open from tuesday to friday 2–6pm, week-end 11am–1pm and 2pm–6pm

The Centre international d’art et du paysage is supported by the Ministry of Culture and Communications/Drac Limousin and the Regional Board of Limousin.

The exhibition Man should try to avoid any contact with alien forms is realized in partnership with Décathlon, Mademoiselle Bio, Pro Natura, Shiseido and the Syndicat mixte “Le Lac de Vassivière”.

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