RITES DE PASSAGE (12.12.2018 – 12.01.2019)


Galerie Charraudeau is pleased to present its new exhibition “Rites de Passage” by Justine Emard and Ilya Fedotov-Fedorov, as part of a collaboration with curator Sasha Pevak. This project, focused on the interest of both artists for experimental forms of life, draws a parallel between science and spiritual practices while exploring the ritual dimension of scientific research.

The art that both artists Justine Emard and Ilya Fedotov-Fedorov practice are marked by a deep interest for scientific environments. This past few years, Justine Emard has been developing a body of work around artificial life forms, particularly in robotics laboratories in Japan. Through this she wonders about the possible models of coexistence between human and robots. While Ilya Fedotov-Fedorov, fascinated by the world of biology, carries out artworks that are halfway between the science of nature, science fiction and cults. His work indicates, among other things, the way in which scientific narratives can submitted to the service of political, ideological or religious fictions.

At what point does a scientific experiment, which is supposed to have a utilitarian purpose, come close to become a ritual that addresses the inexplicable? The ritual is often associated with  the reality of archaic communities, but this notion can also be applied to modern societies: in a broad sense, rituals are “formalised collective performances, usually combining movement and both visual and verbal discourse” (Graeme Gill). Through a ritual action, “institutions place their goals, values ​​and social norms in the body,” suggests Christoph Wulf; the societal structure is reproduced thanks to the ritual culture, assimilated and performed by a collective body.

According to Ilya Fedotov-Fedorov, the vocabulary and repetitive gestures of scientific research form a whole ritual and self-referential language of this community of experts. In the artist’s practice, hybrid species that appear to be derived from laboratory experiments are carefully ordered using rationally-appearing methods. The artist borrows the verbal and visual codes that science has developed over the course of history to present the fruits of his research: from curiosity cabinets and herbaria to contemporary laboratories. Fedotov-Fedorov affirms, among other things, that as research tools have become so sophisticated, scientific data are no longer verifiable: they become the prerogative of the expert community – the bearer of the scientific “truth”. But if the results of a research must be taken literally, then where is positioned the line between scientific truth and dogma ?

In the work of Justine Emard, the different stages of a robot’s “life”: the conception, the existence, the abandonment – are showed under a spiritual lens. Since 2016, the artist collaborates with two robotics laboratories of the Universities of Osaka and Tokyo, and is working around a particular robot: Alter. With an anthropomorphic appearance, this “self-taught” robot learns constantly but does not try to imitate human behavior: thanks to the use of deep learning, it recovers data from its environment to form a language and a gesture which are it’s own. The video work Co (AI) xistence (2017) documents an experiment conceived and directed by Justine Emard. In this one, Alter meets the dancer Mirai Moriyama; through a choreography and repetitive sounds a non-verbal communication takes on. This exchange, whose meaning remains untranslatable in a human language, appears to become a ritualised encounter between man and robot, giving rise to an ephemeral coexistence space for both species.


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