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'L’odeur du ciel' by Naomi Maury and Damien Fragnon at L’AC, Lyon

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Naomi Maury and Damien Fragnon have distinct artistic practices, yet they both base their work on the notion of the Anthropocene and on modified natural elements as its result. Global warming is a worry that can be understood as a focus point in their work, this is translated into a post-apocalyptic landscape through their installations and sculptures. 

Just as in the beginning of a science fiction movie, the audience enters the exhibition through a decontamination chamber. Fountains made out of plastic are misting the room with a slight smell of petrichor, of wet earth after a rainfall. This mist will land surreptitiously on the visitor’s skin and purify their own microbiota. One can find poems, scattered on the walls of the space some words are standing out, “one arrow to another”, “emanation” or “lukewarm”. 

Inside Naomi Maury’s sculptures series titled , there is a network of see through tubes where natural elements such as moss or corals are being worryingly imitated by man-made plastics. Those diametrically opposed materials remind us of a past society where the petrochemical industry was once reigning before being taken over by nature. Throughout the exhibition one can hear cicadas singing, those insects that are migrating north a little bit more every year. 

Sometimes we walked until our feet could not take it any longer, we had to find a way to rest.

Tired, the invertebrates shadows, each a bodily component that seems to have been weakened by a forced suboptimality are contrasting with a society where efficacy and dynamism are at its core. Only an inexplicable weather event could wake those forms up, activating them. Hence the green stones, scattered through the exhibition, each into a constant state of chromatic evolution are mimicking the scientific mystery, such as the one embodied by the blue gelatinous forms that fell from the sky over England in 2012. 

In the second level of the exhibition, wooden crates are hosting a series of sculptures that can hardly be identified. The use of antagonistic materials is creating a confusing situation as to understand the nature of the sculptures. The other enigmatic forms, often made of organic matter, remind us of absent protagonists, insects, and birds that have invested what is left of past societies and that are creating hybrid homes, made out of melted plastic and dry earth. Naomi Maury and Damiens Fragnon’s exhibition portraits a natural landscape post-Anthropocene where one can find new materials that are the results of human activity. The evocations and concerns raised through the exhibition are numerous and sculptural works are just as many possibilities. Is this landscape to be understood as a potential future where cohabitation would be possible or as the vision of a world where Men does not belong anymore?

11.11.18 — 23.12.18

Text by Leïla Couradin / Translation by Tristan Deschamps

Photo by Louise Porte-Tristan Rémy

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