French artist Céleste Bour­sier-Mougenot ex­hibits in Shang­hai

Global Times – Metro Shanghai - - FRONT PAGE - By Chen Shasha

How would it feel to walk through an an­cient moun­tain riverbed, be­come im­mersed in the dark mist while lis­ten­ing to bird­song res­onate through space? French artist Céleste Bour­sier-Mougenot leads the au­di­ence into an at­mos­phere of hu­man­ity, na­ture and mu­sic for a new ex­hi­bi­tion at Shang­hai Min­sheng Art Mu­seum.

Ti­tled Son­sara, it is Bour­sier-Mougenot’s first solo ex­hi­bi­tion in China. The name comes from two words: “Son,” a French word re­fer­ring to the au­di­tory ef­fect that can be sensed through the ear, and “Sam­sara,” mean­ing the cy­cle of hu­man life.

By guid­ing the au­di­ence on an im­mer­sive art jour­ney, the ex­hi­bi­tion in­spires hu­mans to think about the re­la­tion­ship be­tween peo­ple and ar­ti­fi­cial na­ture.

Bour­sier-Mougenot is fa­mous for cre­at­ing an eco­log­i­cal sys­tem in a par­tic­u­lar venue us­ing na­ture and the ad­vanced tech­nolo­gies. The six in­stal­la­tions, made from both mod­ern and or­ganic ar­ti­cles, have trans­formed the mu­seum into a com­plete ecosys­tem.

As a pre­text of the ex­hi­bi­tion, an in­stal­la­tion named Chore­og­ra­phy is made up of peb­bles of dif­fer­ent sizes which scat­ter ran­domly on an es­ca­la­tor at the en­trance. Walk­ing on the es­ca­la­tor is like wan­der­ing through an an­cient riverbed me­an­der­ing qui­etly through a moun­tain. It links the out­side world to in­te­rior space.

Reach­ing to the top of the moun­tain, we come to a space called Brume not un­like a deep and serene cave where sounds loom around in a dense mist. Pro­jec­tors presents the im­ages of the next in­stal­la­tion,

From Hear to Ear, mak­ing the two scenes in­ter­twine with each other.

The next level

Over 160 ze­bra finches are the stars of the next scene. Mu­si­cal in­stru­ments, am­pli­fiers, ef­fec­tors, nest­ing, sands and plants form a nat­u­ral habi­tat in which birds, fly, hop or perch on in­stru­ments, play­ing a live per­for­mance for the au­di­ence.

Scan­ner presents the un­de­tectable sounds gen­er­ated by air­flow and lo­ca­tion changes. Sev­eral he­lium bal­loons, with wire­less mi­cro­phones tied to them, float in wind cre­ated by elec­tric fans. The speak­ers play sounds recorded by mi­cro­phones in real time.

Cli­na­men takes the sen­sory ex­pe­ri­ence of mu­sic to an­other level. Two hun­dred porce­lain bowls of var­i­ous sizes float in the wa­ter. The bowls wan­der around as the wa­ter moves. Clear and eu­phonic ring­ing comes along as they meet each other.

The im­ages of Cli­na­men are pro­jected in Plex where the bowls moves in a more ab­stract way with bass of the real-time scene res­onated in the space.

When dis­cussing his un­der­stand­ing about the re­la­tion­ship be­tween hu­mans and ar­ti­fi­cial na­ture, Bour­sier-Mougenot be­lieves one has to have em­pa­thy about ev­ery­thing around us.

“I think in my case, it is like hav­ing em­pa­thy about ev­ery­thing sur­round­ing me and the world,” he said. “For me, the box, the birds and my­self are all ma­te­ri­als. Some­times I am used by ma­te­ri­als that I trans­fer into a piece of art. I think it is not the sci­ence that demon­strates life. Life ex­ists while sci­ence has not yet fin­ish discovering it thor­oughly. An artist is some­body who has the in­tu­ition to feel em­pa­thy.”

He con­tends that mu­sic is a medium which can trans­fer en­ergy spon­ta­neously like a trans­mis­sion ca­ble.

“What in­ter­ests me most is mu­sic with­out in­ten­tion. What I in­tend to make is a piece of mu­sic with­out any in­ten­tion or aca­demic com­po­si­tion. I am only a trans­la­tor and pro­ces­sor who tran­scribes mu­sic which is in­vis­i­ble,” he added.

Bour­sier-Mougenot said he won’t con­trol those el­e­ments. The whole scene is “pre­sent­ing a free will and the un­pre­dictable.” “It is a process which could evolve be­yond my imag­i­na­tions and ex­plore all the pos­si­bil­i­ties. I give the gui­tars to the birds be­cause they cre­ate ef­fects which al­ways sur­prise me a lot. But in the end, I am able to get such a re­sult: The time, the past and the fu­ture, are com­pat­i­ble, just like our life.”

Shang­hai Min­sheng Art Mu­seum was used as the French pav­il­ion dur­ing the 2010 Shang­hai World Expo.

“I walked all over the places in the pav­il­ion, and felt it like a womb in which I could be in­te­grated and do some­thing within a cer­tain pe­riod. Then I started think­ing about the in­ten­tions of peo­ple who in­vite me to ar­range the ex­hi­bi­tion and whether they are go­ing to fol­low my thoughts,” he said, adding that those who have a real love for art or who be­lieve in the true value of art shall fol­low the path of the artist.

He said he is glad to meet Sun Qi­dong, the cu­ra­tor of the ex­hi­bi­tion. “It is lonely for an artist to ar­range a real ex­hi­bi­tion on his own. He needs some­one to talk with. Sun is the one who can talk with me,” he said. “We in­vited each other to our homes. Our houses are telling our sto­ries.”

Axel Cruau, Consul Gen­eral of France in Shang­hai, said dur­ing the open­ing speech that he hopes the ex­hibit will en­hance cul­tural ex­changes and the re­la­tion­ship be­tween China and France. Date: Sep­tem­ber 1 to Novem­ber 12, 2017 Venue: Shang­hai Min­sheng Art Mu­seum ഏ ݡ૽ഺཊքૌඓܽ Ad­dress: 1929 Shibo Av­enue, Pudong New area Ad­mis­sion: 50 yuan Call 021-61052121 for more de­tails

Pho­tos: Courtesy of Shang­hai Min­sheng Art Mu­seum and Chen Shasha/GT

(From top) Art works dis­played at Son­sara (Top right) A poster of the ex­hi­bi­tion

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