En quête de liberté

20 May - 14 November 2021
La Conciergerie
Paris

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'En quête de liberté', détail de l'installation, 2020. El Anatsui © Eric Sander - CMN

'En quête de liberté', détail de l'installation, 2020. El Anatsui © Eric Sander - CMN

As part of the Saison Africa 2020 in Paris, El Anatsui was commissioned with the opening event in La Conciergerie, also known as Palais de la Cité. The installation 'En quête de liberté' (20 May - 14 November 2021) was the artist's first solo exhibition in France; curated by N’Goné Fall. It was located within the gothic architecture of the Hall of the Guards, a vaulted space and one of the few surviving 14th-century architectural elements of La Conciergerie. 

For this new collaboration, El Anatsui worked with Factum and the October Gallery to produce a multi-projection installation onto a moving silk surface. It was shown in the context of five of El Anatsui’s signature ‘bottlecap’ pieces and an array of vast boulders. Commenting on the theme of migration, movement and fluidity the installation harnessed the forces of nature, through a film of the two branches of the Seine surrounding the Île de la Cité where la Conciergerie is located. The five elements water, wind, wood, metal and stone were all present. The work centred on two video installations projected onto ‘rivers' of rippling silk (1.9 x 26 x 0.47 m in size) located next to the central pillars of the Salle des Gens d’Armes.

The parachute silk was continually kept in motion by two hundred and forty computer-controlled silent fans. Four arch-shaped structures, placed at intervals of approximately six meters across the platforms, supported the projectors that create a seamless illusion of the river.

Mock-up render of the installation © Factum Arte

Mock-up render of the installation © Factum Arte

Mock-up render of the installation © Factum Arte

The video projection was created in Factum's 3D department (with the help of Enrique Esteban, Quinner Baird and Carlos Sanjuan) using the river Seine as reference. The whole system could be easily operated by the Conciergerie staff through a central cabinet, also custom-made, containing the individual switches of each section of the installation.

Design phase of the base structure modules © Quinner Baird for Factum Arte

Projection tests in Factum Arte's workshops © Oak Taylor Smith for Factum Arte

Projection tests in Factum Arte's workshops © Oak Taylor Smith for Factum Arte

Projection tests in Factum Arte's workshops © Oak Taylor Smith for Factum Arte

Each of the 4 arch-shaped structures is around 5m tall and has a mirror to redirect the light beams to the floor, while keeping the projector setup horizontal © Oak Taylor Smith for Factum Arte

Each river is composed of 10 modules (each 2500 mm x 1300 mm x 227 mm), made in softwood sleeper pieces over which the fabric was stretched © Oak Taylor Smith for Factum Arte

The fans which create the undulating effect, hidden under the fabric © Oak Taylor Smith for Factum Arte

The video installation is accompanied by 50 works in resin, each simulating a different type of rock, which are scattered through the hall © Oak Taylor Smith for Factum Arte

The video installation is accompanied by 50 works in resin, each simulating a different type of rock, which are scattered through the hall © Oak Taylor Smith for Factum Arte

The video installation is accompanied by 50 works in resin, each simulating a different type of rock, which are scattered through the hall © Oak Taylor Smith for Factum Arte

The video installation is accompanied by 50 works in resin, each simulating a different type of rock, which are scattered through the hall © Oak Taylor Smith for Factum Arte

The structure conceals 240 silent fans beneath the fabric © Factum Arte

Installing the piece at Palais de la Cité © Natalia Buesa for Factum Arte

© Óscar Parasiego for Factum Arte

 

 

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