Panorama: The Other Side

Mysterious Worlds Revealed

November 30, 2022By Heidi EllisonExhibitions
From the Installation "Ad Astra" (2022), by Guillaume Thomas. © Guillaume Thomas
From the Installation “Ad Astra” (2022), by Guillaume Thomas. © Guillaume Thomas

Every year, Le Fresnoy–Studio National des Arts Contemporains, an art school and production center for multimedia and digital arts in Tourcoing (near Lille), invites an outside curator to put together a new edition of the exhibition “Panorama,” this year titled “The Other Side.” Marie Lavandier, director of the Musée du Louvre-Lens, curated the show with Le Fresnoy’s programming director Pascale Pronier. Together, they worked over the course of a year with students and invited artists to create new projects on the theme of “passage” between worlds. Says Lavandier: “Art offers access to the other side of our world as well as another one, which is suddenly revealed – inhabited, mysterious, enchanted.”

 We are in the realm of the conceptual here, and these projects require an explanation to be fully understood, so it’s worth the effort of reading the wall texts (in French) to appreciate the full import of each work.

Exhibition view: part of Rolando Cruz Marquez’s installation “Am I Too Viscous? © Paris Update
Exhibition view: part of Rolando Cruz Marquez’s installation “Am I Too Viscous? © Paris Update

The 50-something projects cover a lot of different ground. Some, like the installation “Am I Too Viscous?”, incorporate scientific concepts. Created by an actual scientist, Ph.D. student in aerodynamics Rolando Cruz Marquez, it consists of three glass “mechanical sculptures” illustrating a Navier-Stokes equation on the conservation of momentum. We (I) may not be able to understand the fluid mechanics behind the three experiments, which demonstrate the relationship between fluidity and change, but it is fascinating to watch them in action in the sculptures, which are meant to make us wonder what influence external forces have on our daily lives as we choose, for example, the path of least resistance.   

Easier to grasp and leaning more toward the spiritual side of life is Guillaume Thomas’s “Ad Astra” (see image at the top of this page), which transforms “Modigliani-esque” supermodel Anna Cleveland (herself a believer in the “transformative power of spirituality”) into an astral body by projecting a free-floating image of her head into the “sky” of the cavernous exhibition space, suggesting the possibility that each one of us might one day have an “astral imprint” as unique as our fingerprints.

"Objets-mondes," by Sabrina Ratté. © Sabrina Ratté
“Objets-mondes,” by Sabrina Ratté. © Sabrina Ratté

One of the most entertaining and mesmerizing installations, this time with a political/environmental message, is “Objets-Mondes” by Sabrina Ratté. Her photos of objects like old cars and computer screens abandoned in nature by humans are transformed by photogrammetry (“the art and science of extracting 3D information from photographs”) into a brilliantly colored 3D installation. By turning a button on the installation, visitors can change and manipulate the images, bringing to life some of the detrimental effects of the Anthropocene on our world.

The upper level of the building designed by Bernard Tschumi for Le Fresnoy. © Paris Update
The upper level of the building designed by Bernard Tschumi for Le Fresnoy. © Paris Update

The variety of the many projects in this show is remarkable. I recommend a visit to Tourcoing to see not only the exhibition, a great guide to what young artists today are up to, but also Le Fresnoy’s unique hybrid building – which also houses a cinema, multimedia library and restaurant – by architect Bernard Tschumi, who is currently designing its expansion. Click here for information on how to get there.


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