This year once again, the Domain of Chaumont-sur-Loire, the first arts centre devoted to the relationship between artistic creation and nature, has an ambitious programme of contemporary art in store for visitors. Sarkis’ specially commissioned set of 72 stained-glass windows and Giuseppe Penone’s subtle installation are the highpoints of the itinerary, where plastic arts are on display alongside photography.
As part of the Centre Region’s special three-yearly commissions, Sarkis has created a work of remarkable power. In 2012, 40 new stained-glass windows have been added to the first series of 32 panes installed in the Château in 2011. Entitled Ailleurs, Ici, the ensemble makes up an imaginary museum in which the artist presents fundamental images of life and death, love and architecture, in a series of “mental windows” as fascinating as they are unexpected, playing with the memory of the place itself, the world’s memory, and the artist’s own memory.
Not far from the Château, in the Grounds, Giuseppe Penone leads us into a hidden copse in discovery of a work specially designed for the Domain. Questioning the ties that bind humankind and nature so closely, the Italian artist, a leading light in the Arte Povera movement, has created an itinerary lined with a series of works. His installations interact with the vegetation, setting off processes where mineral and vegetable interweave, one enveloping the other, grappling with each other in a dialogue written over several years.
Nor are questions of process, of the mark left on nature by humankind and of memory absent from the works of four other plastic artists commissioned by the Domaine. Patrick Dougherty’s works of plant architecture, Michel Blazy’s foam flowers and sorghum brooms, Shigeko Hirakawa’s “Trees of Photosynthesis” and Samuel Rousseau’s eternal chestnut tree, L’Arbre et son Ombre (The Tree and its Shadow), are just a few of the poetic encounters featuring in this year’s programming.
Photography is also in the spotlight in the Domain’s Galleries, as the Château and the Farmyard are presenting Darren Almond, Alex MacLean, Éric Poitevin, Gilles Walusinski and Brigitte Olivier.
2012 is also the year in which the Domain of Chaumont-sur-Loire is inaugurating new public areas. Besides the new rooms and 500 new square metres of exhibition galleries, the Domaine is also adding 10 hectares to its grounds, with their layout entrusted to the great landscape architect Louis Benech.