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Above: Nature in excess exhibition at Laperouse School, Albi

In this feature Matis Leggiadro describes the exhibition Nature in excess which he curated at his school in 2019, in Albi. Along with the contemporary art centre Le Lait, Matis has staged a series of artworks in which the main objective was to show how art and ecology can be considered complimentary. Indeed, art can be a vehicle for understanding the individual and human factors involved in these complex issues. The commitment of the teachers and students, in this little exhibition, sets an inspiring example of how teenagers can be sensitised to ecological values.

How can art be a vector for the diffusion of ecological values?   


Today is a fragile world but today is no more fragile than yesterday, the only difference lies in the idea that humanity has become fully aware of its capacity for destabilization. In 2019, I had the pleasure of imagining and designing the outline of an exhibition: my first exhibition as – at the time – an apprentice curator. Named Nature in excess, the exhibition was an opportunity for me to think of a project in which art and ecology were a coherent whole. Indeed, the idea that guided me was this: make an exhibition of artworks that question the human capacity to act for his planet.

I did not design the cultural event alone. On the contrary, friends of mine helped me, especially in the brainstorming phase. Also, it is through this project that I made the wonderful meeting of the contemporary art centre Le Lait and precisely of Hélène LAPEYRERE and Murielle EDET, two beautiful people with whom I always maintain ties and with whom I learn a lot. Indeed, it's the art centre Le Lait that allowed me to choose artworks in the contemporary art collection called Artothèque du Tarn (Art Library of the Tarn).

Art as a testimony of this Nature in excess

Art is the mirror of societies, as much as literature. This is confirmed in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, during which art illustrates humanist values and highlights emerging sciences. The art of the twenty-first century, as for it, reflected, is depicted a vanity and decadent civilization with brilliance. He is often the main actor of this decadence! Thus, this contemporary art undoubtedly questions the capacity of the world to be towards sapiens and conversely.

Within the exhibition, it was possible to discover:

– an artwork by Tony CRAGG that plays with the notion of primitivity and proposes the image of an abstract and totemic world

 – two artworks by ZAO WOU KI that are representations of an exploded and magnificent nature opening the door to the viewer’s imagination 

So it was a question of Nature. But then, why in excess? We must look further: it is human nature that is unreasonable and uses nature excessively. The polysemic dimension of Nature explains the title of the exhibition. Also, this is the reason why many works have been chosen especially to put into doubt human nature.

Visitors were able to discover:

 – an artwork by Barbara KRUGER on which the face of a woman was the support of a moralizing maxim: Savoir c'est pouvoir (Knowledge is power)

 – a portrait of Yan PEI-MING whose unreadable face seemed to be the testimony of a deep desolation

Yan Pei-Ming, Tête, 1996.jpeg

Yan Pei-Ming, 1996

The double interest of the exhibition

The first strength of the exhibition was to present a theme and not a chronology. I think that this is the future of the museum route...and I’m not the only one! The theme is more accessible, broader and more open: it plays on the sensitive before having a historical utility. Also, the exhibition was set up in a school, in two classrooms prepared for the occasion. The exhibition therefore received an overwhelming majority of adolescents and was thus aimed at young people. For example, I have made visits to entire classes and the feedback from both students and teachers has always been very positive.

As Jacques Chirac, former French President, said atthe Earth Summit in 2002: "Our house burns and we look elsewhere". And I believe that art is a good way to see things and to look at them with insistence and intensity.

Barbara Kruger, Savoir c'est pouvoir, 1989.jpg

Knowledge is Power by Barbara Kruger, 1989

Nature in Excess: Arts Articles
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