SYMBOLISM AND EMANCIPATION - ETIENNE DE FRANCE: AGAINST THE DROUGHT OF SIGNS
The French artist presented an audiovisual installation titled Against the Drought of Signs at the National Museum of Fine Arts of Santiago within the exhibition “El Tercer Paisaje” (The Third Landscape) curated by Catalina Valdés for the 14th Media Arts Biennial: The Fourth World (2019-2020). The exhibition brought together artists whose work portrays an attentive view of the transformations of nature. Hence, Etienne de France's work was presented along with that of renowned artists Denise Lira-Ratinoff, Josefina Guilisasti, Jorge Tacla, Claudia González, Nicole L’Huillier, Maia Urstad, Sergio Larraín, and Sebastián Preece.
Upon entering the exhibition room in which the installation was mounted, the viewer is faced with two audiovisual pieces projected on large scale screens that present abstract narratives of the shapes, movement, lights and nuances of the forest: an endless cinema. The projection then transitions into a scene of two people staring at a screen that contains shadows casted by the sun rays that filter through the tree foliage, a cinematic scene in itself. As one circulates the room between both projections, the sound of the forest appears and interplays with the voice of Mapuche poet Leonel Lienlaf reciting Kawün (Transformation), verses dedicated to the reciprocity that exists between the Mapuche and nature.
Against The Drought of Signs constitutes the first part of a new body of work of the artist, which explores the possibilities and means of representing forests today. This work is the result of research conducted during Fundación Mar Adentro’s residency program, Bosque Pehuén: Multidisciplinary Research Station for Nature, in the region of the Andean Araucanía, in the south of Chile, where he explored contemporary forms of representation of forests in the political and economic situation of the Araucanía region, where industry and monoculture continues to provoke important territorial conflicts as well as major ecological upsets.
The installation proposes mimesis as a means to address questions of forest representation and go beyond restrictive forms of projection, representation and conservation (both in their aesthetic and environmental terms). How to move beyond immediate touristic, scientific, or cultural behaviours that have reduced and transformed forests as homogeneous spaces and beings? In using the notion of mimesis, the video draws upon the analogy of forest as cinema in its relationship with light, shadows, and growth.
Etienne de France (1984) is a French artist currently living in Paris, France. Unfolding his practice in a multidisciplinary and fragmented way, Etienne de France explores the relationships between concepts of nature and landscape. Through the fields of sciences and architecture, Etienne de France create works using a variety of media such as video, writing, photography, sculpture and drawing. From a questioning on landscape as a space of imaginary and emancipation, he elaborates fictional and narrative maps.
Fundación Mar Adentro (FMA) is a private non-profit foundation created in 2011, based on the vision and values of its founder, Alberto Hurtado F. and his family, whose legacy has inspired them to be socially responsible with the vulnerable sectors of society and with ecosystems; to become actively involved in philanthropic activities; and generate experiences that will positively impact people's quality of life. In this way, they collaboratively seek to establish alliances with various organizations–foundations, universities, cultural and research centers, museums, municipalities, ministries–to carry out joint projects that cohere with FMA’s purpose.