For more than a decade, Versailles has been organizing contemporary art events, in order to establish a dialog between the artistic visions of the past and the present. Until now, the impressive royal palace usually hosted the installations made by contemporary mages such as Joana Vasconcelos, Damien Hirst or Olafur Eliasson. For this year, five distinguished photographers were summoned to show their works.
Namely, Nan Goldin, Viviane Sassen, Dove Allouche, Eric Poitevin and Martin Parr will present commissions at Trianon, specially made to reflect different aspects of this dashing, yet slightly mysterious estate.
Versaille's Trianon was commissioned by Louis XIV and constructed by Jules Hardouin-Mansart in 1687. The grand building was accompanied by the Petit Trianon asked for by Louis XV in 1758 and widely used by his daughter-in-law, Marie-Antoinette. As a matter of fact, the famous restless queen rearranged the Petit Trianon in a picturesque countryside manner, aimed to function as her secret refuge from the demands of courtly life.
Under the joint curatorship of Jean de Loisy, director of the Ecole nationale supérieure des Beaux-Arts de Paris, and Alfred Pacquement, Contemporary Art Curator at Versailles, the exhibition titled Visible/Invisible offers a new perspective on different historical layers of this particular site of the grand Versailles complex. All of the mentioned artists focused on producing well-balanced images which should at the same time be subtly incorporated in the illustrious background and should offer a reinterpretation of courtly life in a broader social context.
For this particular occasion, Dove Allouche produced a series of abstract works inspired by gypsum which are installed in the Cotelle Gallery at the Grand Trianon. On the other hand, Nan Goldin explored both the labyrinth of underground hydraulic systems which supply the fountains with water and the female mythological figures located in the statuary throughout the gardens. On the ground floor of the Petit Trianon, the artist installed a trail accompanied by an audio reconstruction of the 1789 Women’s March on Versailles produced by Soundwalk collective.
Martin Parr will show his stalker photographs of the crowds of Versailles visitors which illustrate the cosmopolitan diversity typical for contemporary tourism. These works are on display in the Pavillon Frais, which is open to the public for the first time. The artist Eric Poitevin decided to show his two new photographic series at the Orangery of Jussieu (Petit Trianon) devoted to the theme of nature; the first one is focused on particular symbolism of the sun, while the other is a delicate visual study of the angelica plant omnipresent in the garden. Last but not least is Viviane Sassen, who showed vibrant examinations of Versailles’s history and present-day teenagers in the rooms of the Grand Trianon.
This brief, yet exciting survey on the history of the grandiose estate and its resonance in the contemporary moment will definitely enrich the overall experience of each visitor, and prove that the necessity of the constant relation between past and present.
Visible/Invisible: Dove Allouche, Nan Goldin, Martin Parr, Eric Poitevin, and Viviane Sassen will be on display throughout Trianon within the Versailles complex until 20 October 2019.
Featured images: Installation views of the exhibition Versailles - Visible Invisible; Domain of Trianon. All images courtesy of Palace of Versailles.