Exodus Stations #5

'Et in Arcadia …' artistic residency and exhibition of Vincent Chevillon at the Mucem, Marseille

Marta Jecu October 2019 Mucem — Musée des civilisations de l'Europe et de la Méditerranée
Topic: Artistic residency and exhibition of Vincent Chevillon in the 'Ruralités' exhibition Mucem.

EXODUS STATIONS #5 is the outcome of a partnership that I have benefited from in the first part of 2019: IMéRA Aix Marseille Université and the Musée des Civilisations de l’Europe et de la Méditerranée (Mucem), in Marseille, offered respectively a research and curatorial residence and their valuable collaboration and support.

This current project continues with the preoccupations of the previous Exodus Stations projects, examining particular museological programs and the way in which museums construct meaning through systems of archiving information and objects, through the representation of objects. It follows the founding histories and contexts that impact on the transmission of objects. For this current case-study at the Mucem, we have mainly focused on the specificity of the museum as a newly founded institution that is building up its collections since its inception in 2013. The focus was also on the importance of the curator’s personal research and archiving practices, and the way they impact on the museum’s acquisition policy.

As in the other projects, I have invited an artist to delve into the archives of the Mucem, in close collaboration with the museum’s curator, to deliver an intervention that opens up a dialogue with the collections and their display in the museum’s exhibitions. My proposal, to the French artist Vincent Chevillon, was a new reading of Mucem’s permanent exhibition « Ruralités », in collaboration with the curator Édouard de Laubrie. The outcome was a contamination between Édouard de Laubrie’s extensive field work and research archives, and the artist’s own reference material – a blend of artistic and ethnographic sources, that generated a complex intervention composed of various works included in the permanent exhibition. The intervention will be on view from October 2019 – April 2020.

To Vincent Chevillon, the collection of objects in Ruralités, and Édouard’s archive of images that document them, transmit a certain nostalgia for a bucolic life. In his perception, this gathering of objects is an Arcadia, a world beyond time. Arcadia is the place in which objects and techniques ‘care’ for a balanced and self-sustained ecosystem.

For his intervention, Vincent Chevillon proposes an extension of this formally complete universe of accomplished objects with a dimension connected to a contemporary sensibility. The point of departure is the actuality of the themes expressed by Ruralités – such as contemporary confrontations with resources, the scarcity and also the artificiality and virtuality of resources today. With his intervention, Vincent intends to introduce ‘agents of intrusion’ that bring disquiet, doubt, oscillation, antagonism and disorder into the abstract serenity of the exhibition. The ancestral ecosystem evoked in the exhibition will be intruded upon by troubles, fear, conflict and quotes of composite realities that modernity itself produced. What Vincent is particularly interested in throughout his work is how modernity defined itself through its geographical margins and the accumulation of phantasies and references that go beyond it.

The artist himself gathered his own archive of images, texts and information on this immaterial patrimony that often is born out of alliances or confrontation. His installation at the Mucem will be combining these two archives: Édouard’s and his own. For Vincent Chevillon, his own extended objects are mediators, interfaces between different realities. They carry their own folklore, like survivors from realities to which we have no full access, which remain unknown, but which nevertheless contributed to the formation of our modernity.

Formally, the elements of his installation reflect this ‘décalage’ between the various sources he uses: elements found in the exhibition « Et in Arcadia… » that he incorporated and new forms that seem like quintessential symbols of our own era.

On the other hand, the intervention of Vincent Chevillon represents a means of bringing into active manifestation the archive of Édouard de Laubrie that condenses like a capsule complex information on the objects. The show renders in an applied way ethnographic files, personal images collected in the field-work and admnistrative documents (that otherwise remain silent), visible for the general public. Moreover, this intervention is also meant to create new communication tools through which a new type of connection can be established with the audience: they are invited to actively apply the themes presented in the exhibition to their own actuality.

In relation to this methodological approach, the introductory text of Yolande Padilla, responsible for collections and the curatorial department at the Mucem, Marseille, will delve into questions regarding the encounter between researcher, museum, curator and artist.