Ange Leccia/Jean-Luc Vilmouth

Galerie de Paris

A long metallic fish, floating above the viewer, undulated regularly, obstinately toward the back wall, as if magnetized by the chaotic procession of incandescent images illuminating the surrounding darkness. This primordial and volcanic backdrop was created by projecting Ange Leccia’s video of what looked like crashing lava, steel in fire, stellar matter in fusion, molecular chaos, and landscapes of liquid stars against the wall. Eventually it was revealed that Leccia’s video actually depicted a fire-ceremony in Japan.

As for the fish, a piece by Jean-Luc Vilmouth, it will serve as one of the animated decorations in the Chunnel’s Waterloo Station. Each departure or arrival of the train will be signaled by the frenetic agitation of a collection of hanging metallic fish. These mobile and sonorous sculptures will remind travelers of the oceanic world that actually exists above their heads. The fish also act as a metaphor for the technological animal that is the subterranean train.

The intersection of the immobile fluidity of Leccia’s images and the mechanical rigidity of Vilmouth’s work created a postecology, postchaos environment formed by primordial, plasmatic, volcanic images of fusion and the creaking and groaning mechanical fish that seemed to be learning to swim all over again. The exhibition submerged us in what Félix Guattari would call a “chaosmos,” that is an ecosophy for the world based not on a romantic ideology of safeguarding what has already been destroyed, but on a method of survival that is interwoven with the elements through tales that are both primeval and final, archaic and technological. It is not a question, finally, of mimesis. Vilmouth’s fish do not imitate the natural species—any more than Leccia’s video represents a “primitive” scene. It is a question of chaotic, disastrous relationships, with nature as much as with art. Rather than representation or imitation, it is a question of permutation. The roles have been switched: the fish form an artistic species, become living slides for the gallery and train station. They proliferate on the surface of social systems, while art is a species on its way to extinction, terrified by the hypertechnology of the social and the rapidity of change.

Olivier Zahm

Translated from the French by Diana C. Stoll.