What art have I seen?

Posted in CF Writing, Sited work by chrisfremantle on July 24, 2008

Centre international d’art et du paysage de l’île de Vassivière

Some images at Flickr
Vassiviere is listed on the ISC‘s web site as one of the few sculpture parks in France. It describes itself variously as ‘a centre for art and nature’, ‘art and the counryside’, and ‘a centre for land art’. It has a few internationally known artists (Goldsworthy, Pistoletto and the Kabakovs) and many French artists; I found a work by Brad Goldberg, who collaborated on Place of Origin, and work by Roland Cognet who had worked at SSW and seems to have had a one person show at Vassiviere,

This place is interesting; having come about as a result of a major hydro-electric scheme, it conceptually raises issues of our relationship to our environment and our tendency to manipulate it in order to extract benefit. It has real character, but it suffers from neither owning its history, nor clearly adressing its apparent mission.

It has a mixed bag of sculptures that make up the park – some the result of a sculpture symposium in the early 80s. More recent and jokey post modern works are also incorporated. The gallery seems to work in partnership with some high profile institutions like the Palais de Tokyo in Paris. The building by Aldo Rossi is striking.

But there is a lack of clarity – there are cornerstone international works, but I couldn’t discern a curatorial strategy. Likewise I guess that the works by French artists are significant, but I didn’t get a sense of a collection of work of significant French sculptors (or artists working in three dimensions on an outdoor scale). This would be a good project in itself.

The work by Samakh is a good response to a natural event, but the replanting of an area of forest to promote biodiversity is not radical.

Thinking about the work of Littoral in particular, but also of PLATFORM, and others involved in dialogic practices, there are so many ways in which this amazing place could speak of itself. Funnily enough it is Goldsworthy who draws attention to the drowned land, but for instance the larger ecological landscape is not drawn out.

But as it stands it clearly has a history of being a centre for sculpture during the second half of the 20th century, and is trying to redefine itself. Using the gallery to do this is OK, but in the end it remains in conflict with the permanently sited work which speaks of a previous project.

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