Palais de Tokyo

Evariste Richer

27 Feb - 20 May 2013

Evariste Richer, Cerveau, 2010, Collection Jeannine et Yves Le Goff.
The Great Elastic
27 February - 20 May 2013

« Some works of art are like so many opaque veils and screens on which to project one’s imagination. »

Evariste Richer

Following Ryan Gander, it is Évariste Richer’s turn to conceive a new “Bibliothèque d’artiste” [Artist’s Library] for the Palais de Tokyo. An opportunity for the artist to take the visitor on a journey into the faraway and the deeply hidden. The viewer can take in the extravagant proportions of a photograph depicting the billions of stars of the Magellanic Clouds beside a thorough presentation of Canon René Just Haüy’s mineralogical collection. The artist’s references are drawn from a number of disciplines that are not ordinarily associated with one another and that, for the duration of this exhibition, invite the visitor to experience the distortions created by instruments of measurement throughout the centuries. The artist calls attention to the symmetries between the compactness of the mineral world and the expanding immensity of the sky, the poetic and the cosmic, reality and the imaginary.

Artist’s library

Each season, an artist is invited to stage an exhibition which giving the access to a space that only exists through his / her mind by demonstrating the implicit connections in his / her mental universe. This program makes it possible to reveal the artist’s sensibility and to come as close as possible to the creative act. “One of the best ways of recreating a man’s thinking is to reconstruct his library,” Marguerite Yourcenar wrote in The Reflections on the Composition of the Memoirs of Hadrian.

The gap between science and reality

If one were to sum up the work of Évariste Richer (b. 1969, lives and works in Paris) as a single action, it would be that of exposing gaps. The gap between the sciences and reality, for instance. In many of his works, Évariste Richer draws inspiration from measuring instruments. Meant to quantify and thus rationalize phenomena, these instruments are reapplied in order to create a tension between the object and the subject, the tangible and the invisible. The sparseness of means tends to accentuate the telling gap. Évariste Richer apprehends those distortions specific to measuring instruments or that are emerging through technical and scientific progress. As he explores the semantic—at times even affective—fertility of this territory, he unearths these narratives which he then presents to the viewer.

Astronomy, mineralogy: far and deep

In “Le Grand Élastique” [The Great Elastic], Évariste Richer has created a library containing objects as diverse as an Indian astronomical observatory, a collection of minerals, and a photograph of celestial clouds. During a trip to India several years ago, Évariste Richer visited the astronomical observation site Jantar Mantar in Jaipur, built in the first half of the 18th century. This observatory of celestial mechanics—one of the largest ever built—is now obsolete, but it remains at the juncture of the “fixed point” and the astral movement, of the mineral and the celestial.

Mineralogy is a field of study which specializes in identifying and classifying minerals and employs a variety of methods. The discipline presides over the creation of collections containing stones extracted at more than 300 kilometers under the ground or originating from faraway asteroids. The history of this discipline owes much to Canon René Just Haüy, author of a method for structural analysis aiming to define the entire mineral species. One hundred years later, the collection of Roger Caillois and his approach at once typological and poetical becomes another milestone in this history. Invented in 1931 by Bernhard Schmidt, the Schmidt corrector plate is an aspheric lens used to correct the geometric aberration in telescopes using a spherical primary mirror. As early as 1949, Schmidt telescopes from different observatories, centralized by the Mount Palomar telescope in California, contributed over a period of eight years to the realization of hundreds of photographs, thereby producing a quasi mosaic/grid of the sky.

Evariste Richer has envisioned his library as a “great elastic” that, similarly to Jantar Mantar, ties the profound to the distant, an ellipse that reveals the instability of tools and the irreducibility of the visible world.

Tags: Ryan Gander, Evariste Richer