In the middle of a large lake in the rural and picturesque region of Nouvelle-Aquitaine, on the Plateau de Millevaches in the Limousin region, the Centre international d’art et du paysage (International Centre for Art and Landscape) designed by architects Aldo Rossi and Xavier Fabre is located on the island of Vassivière. In an exceptional atmosphere, the art centre offers a space for temporary exhibitions as well as 63 permanent works of art in the open-air Sculpture Wood all over the island. From March 27th to June 26th, 2022, the Art Centre presents the exhibition “Concrete Bodies are Finite” by German artist Isa Melsheimer, following her artistic residency at the castle on Vassivière Island.
Image above: L’île de Vassivière (Vassivière Island), Nouvelle-Aquitaine. Photo : Eric Roger
Isa Melsheimer‘s solo exhibition Concrete Bodies are Finite at the Centre international d’art et du paysage explores the architectural and cultural legacies of postmodernism through newly commissioned sculptures, textile works and installations that merge the organic and inorganic across singular forms.
In a new series of large-scale ceramic works, Melsheimer draws inspiration from the plant Welwitschia mirabilis, which grows in the Namib desert of Namibia and Angola. Named after the first European to describe the plant in 1859, Welwitschia is inscribed within a legacy of 18th- and 19th-century European expeditions in which plant specimens were collected, taxonomized and added to botanical collections. In the case of Welwitschia, a double claiming thus occurred—of the plant itself and the right to name it.
Melsheimer’s pieces depict Welwitschia-like forms that gradually merge with architectural elements. With their tentacular leaves interweaving and gradually engulfing the built forms, the plants appear to merge with the architecture, perhaps enacting their own organizational principles and right to claim.
Melsheimer’s Metabolit sculptures (2019–20) are glazed ceramic forms that also combine organic and architectural elements. Leaf-like shoots are barely contained by their boxy surroundings. Bulbous concretions erupt from planar facades and cubic volumes, their mottled surfaces glistening and foaming as if still in motion. The result is a series of works in mutation: uncontainable, undisciplined forms exceeding imposed constraints.
The ensemble of works in the exhibition suggests a reckoning with the legacies of modernism, as well as a recalibration of human relationships with the environment. Plants and other non-human species are shown to have their own potential for agency.
The exhibition is curated by Alexandra McIntosh, Director, Centre international d’art et du paysage, and presented in partnership with the National School of Art and Design (ENSA) and CRAFT, Limoges, with the support of Galerie nächst St. Stephan Rosemarie Schwarzwälder (Vienna), Esther Schipper (Berlin) and Galerie Jocelyn Wolff (Romainville).
About the artist
Isa Melsheimer works and lives in Berlin. Known for her engagement with the history of architectural styles—especially the legacy of modernism and 1950s-70s concrete architecture—Melsheimer’s works are expressions of her intensive research as well as formal investigations.
Selected solo exhibitions of her work include Compost, MAMAC, Nice (2021-22); Der unerfreuliche Zustand der Textur (2020) KINDL – Centre for Contemporary Art, Berlin; Psychotropische Landschaften (2018), Städtische Galerie Delmenhorst; The Year of the Whale (2018), Fogo Island Gallery, Fogo Island; and Der tote Palast zitterte – zitterte! (2017), Mies van der Rohe Haus, Berlin.
About the Art Centre
The Centre international d’art et du paysage (CIAPV) on Vassivière Island, France, supports research, experimentation, production and dissemination of contemporary art. Unique within the French artistic landscape, the Centre is celebrated for its remarkable contemporary architecture designed by Aldo Rossi and Xavier Fabre, its open-air permanent collection, and its program of exhibitions, residencies, publications and events exploring art and landscape. Situated on the Plateau de Millevaches in the Limousin region, the Centre is firmly rooted in its rural context while forging links nationally and internationally. Artists are invited to create and present works in direct relationship with the territory while questioning broader contemporary social, political and environmental concerns. The CIAPV is an Art Centre of National Interest (CACIN) supported by the region of Nouvelle-Aquitaine and the French Ministry of Culture – DRAC Nouvelle-Aquitaine. The CIAPV is a member of the arts networks d.c.a, Astre, Arts en résidence and Hexopée, and is a mediator, since 2017, of the Fondation de France’s Nouveaux commanditaires Program.
Centre international d’art et du paysage
Île de Vassivière
Exhibition dates: Sunday, March 27th – Sunday, June 26th, 2022
Opening hours for exhibition: Tuesday to Friday, 2 – 6 pm. Weekends and public holidays, 11 am – 1 pm & 2 – 6 pm
Sculpture Wood: open acces at all time
Exhibition: 5/3 EUR
Sculpture Wood: free