When I was in Paris earlier this summer I also got to see famous Japanese photographer, Hiroshi Sugimoto’s exhibition, Aujourd’hui le monde est mort, (Lost Human Genetic Archive) which was being held at the Palais du Tokyo. Sugimoto took his title from the book L’Etranger d’Albert Camus.
When first walking into the exhibition, I was expecting a heavy photographic influence and lots of pieces in this medium, however I was extremely surprised to find that this was in no way at all the case. I discovered quickly that Sugimoto had actually created a installation exhibition with objects that he had collected from different “periods and cultures” ( Source : http://www.palaisdetokyo.com/en/exhibition/aujourdhui-le-monde-est-mort-lost-human-genetic-archive) on his travels and journeys. He had set these up in a way that showed a more apocalyptic side to the world. Each section of installation had a theme, this ranged through a number of different roles and professions, 33 to be precise. Next to each of these, there was a written piece starting ‘Aujourd’hui le monde est mort/ The world ended today’, written by the character.
Sugimoto takes us through a winding passage of culture, showing us an alternative view on our future world. In each section the character chooses whether or not to preserve “their individual genetic information for the future” ( Source: http://www.palaisdetokyo.com/en/exhibition/aujourdhui-le-monde-est-mort-lost-human-genetic-archive) In some ways I found this a sad exhibition, we see a lot of objecs that have been used, that have already had a life. It was also really interesting to discover the thoughts of each character and the world that surrounding them. It really made me think about what hte world holds for the future and what kind of life is ahead. I think as an artist it is a very strong theme to work on and I feel personal interest was a factor in Hiroshi Sugimoto’s choice to exhibit.Just from looking around I could see a lot of work and thought went into the exhibition process.
The exhibition was really well done, but not at all what I was expecting. Sugimoto has taken on a hard task here and he has come out succeeding in my opinion. The exhibition was logical, it was curated strongly and it made sense to walk around. Being there were so many sections, it gave the viewer the opportunity to explore in a way that they wished, having the freedom to wander instead of having to stick to a beaten track. The lighting was in the right places and also incorporated the natural light and the space in the Palais du Tokyo. The installation effect also helped us to feel as if we had been transported to another world and when we walked out the exhibition it was strange, as if we had time traveled. Although I was in some ways dissapointed with the lack of photography, it is clear to see in the interview with Sugimoto, why he chose to use his photography in an alternative way for this exhibition. I was taken by how he had done this and even though his specialism is photography he has created an entirely different outcome.
Overall I think I would recommend this exhibition to others, especially if they have heard of the artist previously. He helps us to explore a new outcome on our world in a very clever way. However I would warn people not to expect anything because I feel the exhibition is miles apart from anything that I have seen before or expected from this artist and I think that is part of the surprise and really adds to the exhibition experience.
A small selection of photos :