The Centre international d'art et du paysage
on Vassivière Island welcomes the solo exhibition, Man should try to avoid contact with alien life forms from Japanese artist Shimabuku.
Shima, meaning island in Japanese, leads quite naturally the artist to work on Vassivière Island, to conclude Chiara Parisi's program at the Art center in the most poetic way.
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. When he was younger, Shimabuku wanted to become a poet or a tour guide. Convinced that art doesn't have to necessarily create objects but should rather generate encounters, the artist managed to combine his two vocations. From that point on, style or medium is not what really matters in the finished work, since its main objective is to connect beings together.
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 Rossis 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 whats around us here on Earth, our neighbours, even animals, before contacting 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 Fontaines Fables for instance The Hare and the Turtle.
Further down from the nave, in the studio, the artist re-considers Shimabukus Fish & Chips with an installation that places the viewer far below sea level: a video shows a potatoes sinking in water to end up 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 things 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 the wood reading "Make the 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 lîle, at the end of the building, where the visitors can enjoy Shimabukus 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, from 9th November, 2011 to February 6th, 2012. Entiltled On the water, his project has been realized during his residencie in the capital of Gironde and on the muddy waters of the river Garonne.