Alfred Roll's 1878 "The Old Quarryman" exchanged with Alfred Smith's "The Grave Docks" (1884) in the exhibition "4.543 billion" at the CAPC musée

“Le Vieux Carrier” [The Old Quarryman] (1878) by Alfred Roll (Paris, 1846–1919). Collection of the Musée des Beaux-Arts, Bordeaux.
Following the conclusion of its four-month loan period, we wave goodbye to “Le Vieux Carrier” [The Old Quarryman] (1878) portrait by Alfred Roll (Paris, 1846–1919) on November 6, 2017. Roll's portrait has been on display since June 29 as part of the exhibition "4.543 billion" at the CAPC musée d'art contemporain de Bordeaux. In its place we welcome Alfred Smith's (Bordeaux, 1854–Paris, 1936) “Le Quai de la Grave” [The Grave Docks] (1884).

Alfred Smith's (Bordeaux, 1854–Paris, 1936) “Le Quai de la Grave” [The Grave Docks] (1884). Collection of the Musée des Beaux-Arts, Bordeaux.

We are very grateful to the Musée des Beaux-Arts de Bordeaux for agreeing to these wonderful loans. In turn, and in companion to three artworks from 2012–3 exhibited at the CAPC, Birmingham-based artist Stuart Whipps is presenting a new off-site work entitled "Thin Section: Scottish Shale" (2017) in the galleries of the Musée des Beaux-Arts.


(Above and below) Views of Stuart Whipps' "Thin Section: Scottish Shale" (2017) at the Musée des Beaux-Arts, Bordeaux. Photo: Latitudes.
Photo: Latitudes.
(Left, floor) Stuart Whipps' "Thin Section: Scottish Shale" (2017) and (right, above) “Le Quai de la Grave” [The Grave Docks] (1884) by Alfred Smith (Bordeaux, 1854–Paris, 1936), painting that will be exchanged on November 6, 2017, with Alfred Roll's “Le Vieux Carrier” [The Old Quarryman] (1878). Photo: Latitudes.

A 0.5mm thick sliver of Scottish Shale rock (a gas-harbouring rock similar to schist) cut from a sample with a diamond saw is treated as if it were a photographic slide by being displayed on a Reflecta AFM 2000 slide projector, a model that has an in-built display monitor. The luminous minerals contained within the shale rock—quartz, calcite, dolomite, feldspars, mica, pyrite...—appear in 1:1 scale.


(Above and below) Views of the exhibition room at the CAPC musée that includes Alfred Roll's portrait. The room includes works by Maria Thereza Alves, Ângela Ferreira, Antoine J. Aalders and Stuart Whipps. Photo: Latitudes/RK. 

Photo: Latitudes/RK.

Photo: Latitudes.

Between 1878 and 1894, Alfred Roll (Paris, 1846–1919) painted a series of Realist works depicting the world of industry, and more pointedly, comprising statements of solidarity with the harsh circumstances of the worker at a time of great social unrest. Representing an elderly quarryman in his smock, “Le Vieux Carrier” [The Old Quarryman] (1878) began this sequence when it was first exhibited at the Paris Salon in 1879. It is one of the few Roll portraits whose subject remains anonymous, yet the man depicted was undoubtedly a genuine labourer rather than a model—the artist was later known to welcome miners and their families to sit for portraits in his studio. Is it not known where the man would have been working. Yet given Roll’s later depiction of stonemasons on a quayside in Suresnes, near Paris, (“Le Travail, chantier de Suresnes (Seine)”, 1885), one might speculate that “Le Vieux Carrier” represents both the large-scale infrastructural projects taking place around the capital at the time, as well as the increasing reorganization of the French workforce in the extractive industries through retiring older workers and cutting wages. 

Roll would go on to spend several months living and working in the coal mines of Charleroi, Belgium, and Anzin, in the Nord-Pas-de-Calais region of northern France, and he presented the celebrated painting “Grève des mineurs” [Miners’ strike] at the 1880 Salon. Roll seems to have painted from the perspective that exhaustion unfolds through human labour systems as much as through the depletion of raw materials.

(Unframed) Alfred Smith's (Bordeaux, 1854–Paris, 1936) “Le Quai de la Grave” [The Grave Docks] (1884). Collection of the Musée des Beaux-Arts, Bordeaux.
   
“Le Quai de la Grave” [The Grave Docks] (1884) is one of a number of Bordeaux cityscapes by the painter Alfred Smith (Bordeaux, 1854–Paris, 1936) in which the effects of the weather and the time of the day are treated with great fidelity. A mason appears to be sizing-up a large limestone block that has been brought downriver by boat. Other workers take a rest in the shade of the water tank and the sentry box during what appears to be a scorching hot summer afternoon in Bordeaux. The seasonal movement of migrant stonemasons from central France, especially the Creuse département, was an established and widespread feature of the construction industry by the late eighteenth century. Migrants had travelled by foot for centuries, but with the introduction of railways to central France in the 1850s, this began to change. Paris was the main magnet, but many young men also departed every March to look for work in Lyon, Bordeaux, and other cities. 

Until at least the beginning of the twentieth century, construction in France was defined by the cutting, dressing, and placing of stone and the industry would have encompassed a wide range of specialist and physically demanding jobs—from quarrymen to masons, roofers, and pavers. By the time of Smith’s depiction, much of the precision of stone cutting would have been done at the quarry site itself. Finishing, polishing and decoration would have been carried out on site. Building work had started to organize trade unions in the early 1880s and a national building trades’ federation was founded in Bordeaux in 1892.

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‘4.543 billion’ is the contribution of the CAPC musée to the cultural season Paysages Bordeaux 2017

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  • Archive of social networks related to "4.543 billion"
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  • CAPC website (French, English, Spanish) http://www.capc-bordeaux.fr/programme/4543-milliards
  • 15 November 2017, 4:30–8pm: 'The Return of the Earth. Ecologising art history in the Anthropocene' study day at the CAPC musée, Bordeaux 24 October 2017
  • Cover Story—November 2017: "Mining negative monuments: Ângela Ferreira, Stone Free, and The Return of the Earth" 1 November 2017
  • Cover Story – July 2017: 4.543 billion 3 July 2017
  • Cover Story – May 2017: S is for Shale, or Stuart; W is for Waterfall, or Whipps 1 May 2017
  • SAVE THE DATE: 29 June, 19h. Private view of the exhibition "4.543 billion. The matter of matter" at the CAPC musée d'art contemporain de Bordeaux 30 May 2017
  • Cover Story – May 2016: Material histories – spilling the beans at the CAPC musée d’art contemporain de Bordeaux 10 May 2016.
  • Second research trip to Bordeaux 16 July 2016




SAVE THE DATE: 29 June, 19h. Private view of the exhibition "4.543 billion. The matter of matter" at the CAPC musée d'art contemporain de Bordeaux

Xavier Ribas, Chilean Nitrate publicity postcard, c. 1920 from "A History of Detonations", 2013. Courtesy the artist and ProjecteSD, Barcelona; and Lucas Ihlein, "Under Ground", 2010. Courtesy of the artist.


SAVE THE DATE

Exhibition ‘4.543 billion. The matter of matter’, CAPC musée d'art contemporain de Bordeaux, June 29, 2017–January 7, 2018.  

Opening: June 29, 2017 (6 pm)

With: A.J. Aalders, Lara Almarcegui, Maria Thereza Alves, Félix Arnaudin, Amy Balkin, Alessandro Balteo-Yazbeck in collaboration with Media Farzin, Bernd Becher and Hilla Becher, Étienne Denisse, Hubert Duprat, Giulio Ferrario, Ângela Ferreira, Anne Garde, Ambroise-Louis Garneray, Terence Gower, Rodney Graham, Ilana Halperin (also at the Université de Bordeaux’s zoology department), Marianne Heier, Christina Hemauer and Roman Keller, Lucas Ihlein and Louise Kate Anderson, Jannis Kounellis, Martín Llavaneras, Erlea Maneros Zabala, Nicholas Mangan, Fiona Marron, Alexandra Navratil, Xavier Ribas, Alfred Roll, Amie Siegel, Lucy Skaer, Alfred Smith, Rayyane Tabet, Pierre Théron, Pep Vidal, Alexander Whalley Light, Stuart Whipps (also at the Musée des Beaux-Arts) as well as documents and objects lent by the archives of the CAPC, the Archives Bordeaux Métropole, the Archives départementales de la Gironde, and the geology collection of the UFR Sciences de la Terre et de la Mer, Université de Bordeaux.

Curated by Latitudes

With contributions from more than 30 artists, “4.543 billion. The matter of matter” is a major exhibition that addresses works of art, collections and cultural histories in relation to ecological processes and a geological scale of time. It presents a continuum of materials and temporal landscapes – films, works on paper, photographs, sculptures, documents, and other meaningful things – and springs from the CAPC building’s former life as a warehouse for colonial commodities whose limestone walls were once deep in the ground and whose wooden beams were once part of a forest.


A central proposal of the exhibition is that works of art are part of geophysical history as much as art history. 4.543 billion attempts to take into account both a micro-local and a planetary perspective, and to rethink some of the histories of art as fragments of broader narratives about the Earth and how our place in it has been represented. What is at stake when art and museums take on greater temporal and material awareness? How might they move beyond a spatial framework of “think globally, act locally”, to “think historically, act geologically”? 

Collections are accumulations of real physical matter in time as well as of ideas, decisions, fashions, knowledge, and use. Likewise minerals and organic matter might be regarded as both cultural evidence and archival storage media. This exhibition takes a situated view of the past that resists an undifferentiated narrative in which modernity in general is at fault for global ecological disarray, or humanity in an invariably abstract sense must take responsibility.


Accordingly, the artists included instead often address the specific roles and purposeful effects of individuals, practices, states or corporations in an account of how mineral agents and organic processes have intertwined with and underpinned culture. Marianne Heier’s contribution, for example, documents a project addressing the decisive roll North Sea oil has played in shaping art and culture in Norway. Rayyane Tabet’s works deal sculpturally with the legacy of the Trans-Arabian Pipe Line, a joint venture by three American oil companies that came together in 1946 to construct an pipeline from Saudi Arabia to the Mediterranean. Incorporating a fragment of Breccia Pernice marble from the lobby of Trump Tower, Dynasty (2017) by Amie Siegel weaves Italian geology into the political turmoil of the present. 

Several of the more documentary projects on display (including those by Alessandro Balteo Yazbeck and Terence Gower) trace the relationships between Modern art, the museum, and wealth created through extractive industry, combining approaches framed by Earth sciences with colonial history, sociology and political reportage. Yet other works take a more atmospheric, filmic, sculptural or graphic approach to extraction, economy, energy and global exchange, whether orbiting around sunlight, forests, synthetic materials derived from fossil fuels (a subject addressed by Alexandra Navratil), or the services and substances entailed in buildings that display art (as seen through the work of Lucas Ihlein and Lara Almarcegui).
In addition to two new projects in development for the occasion (by Christina Hemauer & Roman Keller and Ilana Halperin), the exhibition will include many works kindly lent by the artists and international galleries, as well as those from the CAPC collection and its archives. Loans from Bordeaux institutions include those from the Archives Bordeaux Métropole, the Archives départementales de la Gironde, the Musée des Beaux-Arts, the Musée d’Aquitaine and the geology collection of the UFR Sciences de la Terre et de la Mer, Université de Bordeaux.


Located at opposite ends of the galleries will be two imposing works that bookend the exhibition conceptually as well as physically. Originally made for CAPC in 1985, Jannis Kounellis’s nine-metre-long Sans titre is a slab of steel draped with coffee sacks that spits flames. On the other side, Ancient Lights (2015) is a two-screen video installation by Nicholas Mangan that is powered by an off-grid solar system with panels on the roof of the CAPC building. With sections filmed at the Laboratory of Tree-Ring Research, University of Arizona, and a salt-storage solar plant near Seville, Mangan’s looped videos speculates on the ideology and politics of energy. 


Several works by Ângela Ferreira also link diverse histories: those of the Cullinan Diamond Mine in South Africa, the source of one of the largest gems ever found, and the Chislehurst Caves in South East London, a crucible of counter-culture in the 1960s. In terms of an exploration of the underground – in this case with a sociological dimension – one could also mention All surface expectations disappear with depth (2010) a three-screen video work by Fiona Marron that juxtaposes text from a 1954 field report on working conditions in an American gypsum mine with footage from present-day excavation in Ireland.


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‘4.543 billion’ is the contribution of the CAPC musée to the cultural season Paysages Bordeaux 2017. Within the exhibition framework, Latitudes will lead the month-long residency programme ‘Geologic Time’ at Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity, Alberta, Canada, in September–October 2017.


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Report from Bordeaux: Visit to CAPC/Musée d'Art Contemporain's shows of Franz Ehrard Walther and the group show "Ce qui ne sert pas s'oublie"

 Views of Franz Erhard Walther's show "Le Corps décide" from CAPC's mezzanine.

The exhibition 'Franz Erhard Walther: Le Corps décide' was initiated by WIELS Centre d’Art Contemporain, in Brussels – see a video of its iteration here – and has been co-produced together with CAPC musée d'art contemporain in Bordeaux, alongside The Franz Erhard Walther Foundation. The exhibition is accompanied by a beautiful publication that includes brightly colored pop up shapes that spread throughout the book. 

From Wiels' website... "Franz Erhard Walther’s exhibition offers an in-depth look at an influential German artist whose pioneering work straddles minimalist sculpture, conceptual art, abstract painting, and performance all while positing fundamental questions about the conventional idea of the artwork as an immutable, obdurate pedestal or wall-bound thing. Bringing together pivotal works made between the 1950s and the present, this exhibition focuses on Walther’s ability to transform notions of object-hood and perception through drawings, paintings, fabric sculptures, participatory forms, language-based works, photographic documentation and archival material."



On the second floor, CAPC just opened 'Ce qui ne sert pas s’oublie' (What Cannot be Used is Forgotten) (22 January–3 May 2015) a group show curated by Mexico-based Colombian-born curator Catalina Lozano, that includes works by Mathieu K. Abonnenc, Sven Augustijnen, Mariana Castillo Deball, Sean Lynch, Pauline M’Barek, Museo Comunitario del Valle de Xico, Wendelien van Oldenborgh, Uriel Orlow, Beatriz Santiago Muñoz and Jorge Satorre.

The exhibition "deals with the mutating statuses of objects in relation to the possible historical narratives, especially those related to colonial past an present and the layers of cultural, spiritual and identity production that stem from them. Objects carry a wealth of immaterial aspects in and around their materiality, constituted by means of the relations they form with others, both human and non-human... This exhibition seeks to understand how our relation to the material world entails endless processes of assimilation, acculturation, re-appropriation, ritualisation which in their complexity whiteness and embody the historical binds in which they are caught." [this and following quotations describing each work are taken from the exhibition leaflet].

The exhibition is accompanied by a French/Spanish publication (Les Presses du Réel, 2015) with contributions by Mathieu K. Abonnenc, Mariana Castillo Deball, Catalina Lozano, Beatriz Santiago Muñoz and Jorge Satorre.

Entrance to the group exhibition "Ce qui ne sert pas s'oublie".


The first room of the exhibition featured 'Killing Pots' (2013–14), a series of sculptural works by Jorge Satorre (1979, Mexico). Information about these pieces can be found in this extensive text by curator Caterina Riva.


 
Sean Lynch (1978, Ireland), 'A blog-by-blow account of stone-carving in Oxford', (2014) an installation composed of photographs, sculptures and a video projection "exploring the oeuvre of nineteenth-century stone-carvers John and James O’Shea, who carved monkeys, cats, owls and parrots on buildings in Oxford and Dublin."

Sean Lynch, 'A blog-by-blow account of stone-carving in Oxford' (2014). 


(Left) 'Nocturne' (2015) a video by Beatriz Santiago Muñoz (1972, Puerto Rico); (right) Mathieu K. Abonnenc (1977, French Guyana) 'Sas titre (des corps entassés'), (2012) and 'Names and surnames' (2012-13).


(Left) Sven Augustijnen (1970, Belgium) series of photographs 'L'Histoire Belge' (2007) "question the monumentality of Belgium's history and any optimistic relation to its past, including its colonial incursions in Africa"; (right) 'Nocturne' (2015) a video by Beatriz Santiago Muñoz (1972, Puerto Rico) focusing on syncretic religions from the Caribbean, namely Haitian Vodou, characterised by the flexibility they show towards drastic change, be it geographical, social, material or natural".

  (Detail of) Sven Augustijnen (1970, Belgium) series of photographs 'L'Histoire Belge' (2007).


General view of the exhibition. (Right wall) Museo Comunitario del Valle de Xico (Community Museum of the Xico Valley), a community organisation founded in 1996 "entrusted with the safeguard and display of pre-colonial remains found by the neighbours of the locality over the past few decades."


(Above) Detail of Mariana Castillo Deball (1975, Mexico) "Le Problème de Molyneux" (2001) "addressing the immediacy of experiencing an object without seeing it and the subjective construction of its image".

Room with "Showcase" (2012), "Rope" (2013), "Trophy stands" (2011) and "Semiophores" (2013), all works by Pauline M'barek (1979, Germany).


(Above) Wendelien van Oldenborgh (1972, The Netherlands), "La Javaise" (2012). "Shot in the former Colonial Institute in Amsterdam, explores the links between colonialism and globalisation through the example of Vlisco, a Dutch firm producing textiles for the African market."



The show closes with two works produced in 2007 by Uriel Orlow (1973, Switzerland): "Lost Wax" and "A Very Fine Cast (110 Years)". The first deals with the production of brass-casting artifacts in Benin City, Nigeria, produced via this already out of use technique. The latter (below) is a series of 28 engravings displaying descriptions of artifacts from museum cataloging systems, revealing the racist and colonial narratives that lie within the looted objects that are now part of European museum collections.




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