The territories of water resonate with works and objects from the collections of the musée du quai Branly –
Jacques Chirac with a selection of works from the Fondation François Schneider, a contemporary art fund set up in 2011 on the issue of water. 

The Contemporary Talents competition rewards 7 winners from all disciplines and nationalities. Videos, photographs, drawings, installations, digital works, blown glass sculptures make up a collection of pieces telling the story of water in all its forms. Crossing the Mediterranean, drifting sheep, an odyssey on the Norwegian fjords, tin and molten water, contemporary rituals, questions about mass fishing, dams, water mechanics, a reinvented planet… are the varied themes and subjects of the contemporary artists who won the competition.

These water stories deserve to be put into perspective with works from outside Europe, highlighting the universality of the subject. The exceptional pieces of the musée du quai Branly – Jacques Chirac thus offer the possibility of creating an original itinerary inviting the visitor to plunge into the materials, centuries and representations related to water. 

For thousands of years, artists, creators and craftsmen have been fascinated by this subject and we can observe important resurgences and iconographic links between all periods.

Nigerian zoomorphic masks, Vietnamese nets, Polynesian dugout canoes, sculpted bathing shoes, Zapotec deities, Dogon statuettes, and shell headdresses are all objects and works that question man’s relationship with water, from its technical aspects to its spiritual dimension.

Whatever their status, objects of daily life, sacred objects or works of contemporary art, all these works bear witness to the links woven by men with the primary source of life. The exhibition celebrates the universality of the hand gesture when it comes to creating, the artist’s intention when he integrates water as a living entity in the face of contemporary questions.

The course of the exhibition allows to navigate in 5 main sections: the manufacture of techniques and landscape, the daily life of water, liquid imaginary, territories of the sacred and geography of crossings.

Indeed, man irrigates rice fields, develops hydraulic technologies and observes life in rivers and oceans. Water structures societies through its absence or omnipresence. It also inspires myths and dreams. Frightening or fascinating, it summons the sacred and rituals. Water is the witness of the crossings of men, for more or less happy journeys.

More than 120 works and objects meet for a singular dialogue. The contemporary representation of the world of the abyss is, for example, brought into resonance with ancient representations of maritime fauna. Contemporary photographs of Greenland converse with Inuit objects such as ivory hooks or fur coats. The Middle Eastern water culture represented by bathing objects is linked to a video installation deciphering the drought of a river in Iran. Old and new maps of the journey are shown next to each other in the exhibition. Ritual objects invoking water – statuettes, amulets, magic objects – are presented and coexist with new contemporary forms and practices such as performance.

The territories of water invites to a multidisciplinary and multicultural journey where man and nature are in conversation.

Artists from the collection of the Fondation François Schneider
Nour Awada, Guillaume Barth, Benoît Billotte, Mathieu Bonardet, Jessie Brennan, Julie Chaffort, Yves Chaudouët, Edouard Decam, Asieh Dehghani, Rebecca Digne, Cristina Escobar, Sara Ferrer, Antoine Gonin, Elizaveta Konovalova, Mathilde Lavenne, Olivier Leroi, Claire Malrieux, Mehdi Meddaci, Camille Michel, Gustavo Millon, Hélène Mugot, Benoît Pype, Paul Souviron, Wiktoria Wojciechowska.

An exhibition co-organized with the musée du quai Branly – Jacques Chirac.



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