From July 2, 2016 to January 8, 2017, the Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain in Paris presents The Great Animal Orchestra. The exhibition brings together the work of artists from all over the world and invites the public to enjoy an aesthetic meditation, both aural and visual, on the animal kingdom, which is increasingly under threat in today’s modern world.
The Great Animal Orchestra is inspired by the work of American musician and bioacoustician, Bernie Krause. For over 40 years, Bernie Krause has collected almost 5,000 hours of sound recordings of natural habitats, both terrestrial and marine, inhabited by almost 15,000 animal species. His research offers a wonderful immersion into the sound universe of animals, otherwise known as biophony.
Among the elements of the exhibition, you can find:
- a drawing of 18 meters in length specifically created for the exhibition by Chinese artist Cai Guo-Qiang. This work displays wild animals of different species gathered around a watering hole in a moment of peace and extreme vulnerability. Cai GuoQiang executed this drawing using gunpowder, a material he uses with an unrivalled expertise and dexterity. On large sheets of paper, an outline was first of all drawn using black gunpowder before being set alight. The traces of burn marks and smoke compose the sought-after motif: a landscape populated by animals.
- With the image created by Cai Guo-Qiang, evocative of the cave paintings from prehistoric times, the exhibition associates the striking yet rather strange photographs of Japanese artist Manabu Miyazaki. These are taken using a kind of robotic “camera trap,” and done so with great ingenuity and unparalleled sensitivity. Exhibited for the first time outside of Japan, these images allow the viewer to see wild animals sharing the same environment and pathways as their human counterparts. Manabu Miyazaki’s photographs also reveal the mysterious dreamlike beauty of the flight of birds through the forest. The artist describes his approach in the following words: “My camera traps are like trees observing the animals. The watchful eye of the tree becomes my camera.”
- The English collective United Visual Artists (UVA) provides a visual translation of Bernie Krause’s soundscapes. A remarkable three-dimensional electronic installation, especially commissioned for the exhibition, transposes data from Krause’s recordings into light particles, thereby highlighting the beauty of the sound environments presented, as well as the complexity of their animal vocalizations.
- a stunning “aviary video” of multicolored images is under the solemn and contemplative surveillance of the dioramas of animals photographed in black and white by Japanese artist, Hiroshi Sugimoto.
- explore one of the most overlooked dimensions of the animal kingdom: the infinitesimal beauty of the ocean with the installation Plankton, A Drifting World at the Origin of Life. Made from photographs by Christian Sardet, a director of research at the CNRS and one of the initiators of the Tara Oceans Project, this installation is based upon a device invented by videographer and artist Shiro Takatani, and accompanied by music written by Japanese composer Ryuichi Sakamoto. Invisible to the human eye, the micro-organisms that form plankton are found in all oceans. They represent the majority of the marine biomass on the planet and are the source of life on earth.
- In the garden of the Fondation Cartier, an installation created by Agnès Varda, Le Tombeau de Zgougou (Collection Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain) is the recreation of a temple that is dedicated to the spirit of all pets, in memory of the artist’s beloved and much lamented cat, Zgougou.
With Pierre Bodo, Gabriela Carrillo and Mauricio Rocha, The Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Raymond Depardon and Claudine Nougaret, Cai Guo-Qiang, Manabu Miyazaki, JP Mika, Moke, Ryūichi Sakamoto, Christian Sardet, Hiroshi Sugimoto, Shiro Takatani, Cyprien Tokoudagba, United Visual Artists (UVA), Agnès Varda, Adriana Varejão.
For full information, please read the press release