Curator: Hélène Guenin, Centre Pompidou-Metz, assisted by Hélène Meisel
Vibration, stupefaction, “delightful horror,” to quote Edmund Burke, are a few words to qualify the experience of the sublime: this singular feeling of attraction mixed with terror that we experience when we are confronted with the outburst and power of the elements. Born at the heart of the 18th century, this aesthetic and philosophic concept weaves the main thread of a reinterpretation of humanity’s passionate history with nature.
Gathering over a hundred artists, architects, and filmmakers worldwide, from Leonardo da Vinci to Rosa Barba, including, among others, William Turner, Susan Hiller, Dove Allouche, Werner Herzog, Lars von Trier, Robert Smithson, Agnes Denes, or Ana Mendieta, Sublime. The tremors of the world offers a dialogue between ancient and contemporary works. It explores the ambivalent and persisting attraction for the “Nature too far” (Victor Hugo) and catastrophes.
At a time of ecological upheavals and alarmist statements, the exhibition also explores two radical changes in the concept of the sublime: the spectator realising his partial responsibility in the disordered world, and the catastrophe itself, now invisible under the effects of our activity. Lastly, the exhibition evokes the resurgence, since the ’60s, of a rekindled bond with nature… An aspiration for re-enchantment, a quest of fusion, reviving a more contemplative iconography of the sublime.
In this journey fluctuating between a philosophy of the 18th century and a contemporary vision, the aesthetic questions cross paths with actual ethical positions and ecological debates. The road outlined by the artists’ investigations—successively watchers and exhibitors—illuminated by a small light perceivable by those who are attentive to it, sheds lights on the tumultuous history of a ravaging and ravaged passion between an occupying species and its ecosystem.
A program of events and performances by international artists — Danish artist Mette Invargtsen, Swiss artist Pamina de Coulon, American artist Anna Halprin — will accompany the exhibition.