PARIS.- Fondation Cartier presents today Raymond Depardon - Paul Virilio - Terre Natale, on view through March 15, 2009. While the world has reached a critical moment in its history, where the environment conditions what humans do and what they will become, the exhibition Native Land, Stop Eject proposes a reflection on the notions of being rooted and uprooted, as well as related questions of identity. Whereas Raymond Depardon gives a voice to those who wish to live on their land but are threatened with exile, Paul Virilio examines and challenges the very idea of sedentariness in the face of the unprecedented migrations taking place in the contemporary world. Paul Virilio’s concepts are given form in a design by the artists and architects Diller Scofidio + Renfro, as well as Mark Hansen, Laura Kurgan, and Ben Rubin.
The exhibition is, therefore, a confrontation. It is at once a contradictory and complementary dialogue between filmmaker and photographer, Raymond Depardon, and urbanist and philosopher, Paul Virilio. Depardon’s work has often explored native lands, and, particularly, the world of farmers, giving value to speaking and listening. His capacity to combine both the political and the poetic is clear to anyone familiar with his work. Through his writing, Paul Virilio has spent much of his time working on notions of speed, exodus, the disappearance of geographic space, and the pollution of distances.
Native Land - “Let us listen to these people, be they Chipaya, Yanomami, or Afar. Let us listen to these people and give them a chance to speak, so we can hear them express themselves in their language, with their own way of speaking, their own facial expressions.”
This notion of being rooted—the relationship that a population nurtures with its land, its language, and its history—finds its full expression in the monumental projection of a film by Raymond Depardon, made especially for this exhibition. Accompanied by sound engineer, Claudine Nougaret, Depardon travelled to Chile, Ethiopia, Bolivia, France, and Brazil to meet with nomads, farmers, islanders, and indigenous peoples, all of whom were either threatened with extinction or living on the periphery of globalization. They express themselves in their mother tongue languages, anchored in their native soil (“I was born in my language,” says one woman), and voice their anger and pain in view of the numerous threats and fears that plague their lives.
“After travelling all over the world to ‘give a voice’ to […] endangered minorities […], I felt the need to confront my own world, one that is suffering from the ‘disease of speed’ denounced by Paul Virilio.”
Raymond Depardon thus goes on to share his first-hand experience of globalization and the world’s shrinking distances in the form of a silent filmed journal. After celebrating and “giving a voice” to those who wish to remain on their land, he travelled to cities around the world from East to West in 14 days—Washington, Los Angeles, Honolulu, Tokyo, Ho Chi Minh City, Singapore, Cape Town—accompanied solely by his camera.
Stop Eject - “I’m nostalgic for the world’s magnitude, of its immensity.” Paul Virilio
Depardon’s travel journal—a long-distance imaginary dialogue with Paul Virilio—brings us to the second part of the exhibition Native Land, curated by Virilio, and designed by American artists and architects, Diller Scofidio + Renfro, in collaboration with Mark Hansen, Laura Kurgan, and Ben Rubin.
“The nature of being sedentary and nomadic has changed. […] Sedentary people are at home wherever they go. With their cell phones or laptops, [they are] as comfortable in an elevator or on a plane as in a high-speed train. This is the sedentary person. The nomad, on the other hand, is someone who is never at home, anywhere. »
Virilio questions one’s capacity to settle somewhere and take root. The acceleration of movement or, using his terms, “the great migratory mobilization,”—it is estimated that roughly 200 million people will be forced to relocate by the year 2050—challenges the very notion of sedentariness. This exodus, unprecedented in human history, linked to globalization and to climate change, encounters the end of geographical space, or “the disappearance of the world’s vastness,” created by the current transportation and telecommunications revolution. The current urban exodus replacing the rural exodus of the past, the re-urbanization of the world, as Paul Virilio describes it, are factors that announce the emergence of the “ultracity,” the city of urban exile, the city of departure, similar to the train or bus stations and airports of today, or the spaceports of the future.
In this way, Paul Virilio questions the future of “native land” as a notion, reflected in the literal translation of the French exhibition title, Terre Natale, Ailleurs commence ici [Native Land, Elsewhere starts here]. This elsewhere that begins here prefigures global mobilization, and is illustrated through a visual tornado of news clips that are literally choreographed on almost 50 screens.
The exhibition’s final room is entirely dedicated to cartography, proposing a dynamic visualization of global human migrations and their causes via a circular and immersive projection. The visitor is surrounded by a sphere that circles the room, leaving behind a new imprint of migratory data in the form of animated maps, texts and trajectories with each orbit.
This exhibition has benefited from the participation of François Gemenne, researcher and professor of migratory movement linked to climate change at Sciences Po (Centre d’études et de recherches internationales) and at the University of Liege (Centre d’études de l’ethnicité et des migrations).
Chief curator: Hervé Chandès, General Director of the Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain.