Estuary Nantes < > Saint-Nazaire. An Outdoor Collection
Since 2007, the Loire river estuary keeps evolving. Better yet, it has become an outdoor museum which can be visited year round. Forty miles separate the city of Saint-Nazaire, located at the river’s mouth, and the city of Nantes: it is a complex stretch of land, in the midst of becoming a future metropolis, and which has been used three times (2007/2009/2012) by French and international artists to create works in situ, displayed in twelve different towns along the estuary. Under the artistic direction of Jean Blaise, the project now comprises 30 permanent outdoor works along the river. We are inviting you on a journey through nature starting at the mouth of the river and going upstream to the city of Nantes.
Pointe de Mindin
Huang Yong Ping
It is in Saint-Brévin-les-Pins, and more specifically at the Pointe de Mindin, where the river meets the Atlantic Ocean, that Monumenta 2016’s guest of honor Huang Yong Ping’s Serpent d’Océan rises from the water. This gigantic 420 foot long and 10 foot high aluminum skeleton, complete with its 284 ribs, was installed in 2012 right at the foreshore and where the river and the ocean meet. The “animal” is perfectly integrated into the site: the perpetual movement of the tides brings it to life, sometimes only revealing its head or its tail. The curve of its body resonates with the bridge of Saint-Nazaire, which can be seen from the beach, and is also reminiscent of the “carrelets”, the traditional fishing nets used on the French Atlantic coast.
On the estuary / Couëron
LA MAISON DANS LA LOIRE
“A slightly slanted house, which foundations have sunken into the mud (…). It looks as lonely as one can sometime feel when surrounded by nature. A realistic yet poetic image, concrete, secretive, silent, this sleeping house on the Loire could be a picture, a three-dimensional painting, frozen in time. Motionless.” Jean-Luc Courcoult
La Maison dans la Loire is an architectural replica of the former tavern of Lavau-sur-Loire, on the harbor. Lavau has always captured the imagination of Jean-Luc Courcoult because when the tides are strong, the water comes up to the village. Given to imagination and reverie, this house, planted in the silt, constantly looks different and sometimes shines a little light, at sundown.
DID I MISS SOMETHING ?
Let’s leave the banks of the Loire River and pause for a while in the park of the Pé castle in Saint-Jean-de-Boiseau, south west of Nantes. Locals like to stroll around the 17 acres of this entirely restored wooded park. This is where Jeppe Hein installed Did I Miss Something?, a 65 foot high water fountain shooting up from of one of the park’s basins.
This extraordinary event takes visitors by surprise. What could possibly disrupt the serenity of a peaceful stroll in the park? Encounters with Jeppe Hein’s artworks are often amusing and entertaining. In this particular case, it is a bench, an invitation to contemplation and day-dreaming, which turns out to be a friendly trap and surprises wanderers who, by sitting on it, involuntarily trigger the 65 foot high geyser. This might well be the artist’s homage to the power of nature which, despite the estuary’s serenity, remains undeniable. But Did I Miss Something? can also be interpreted as the celebration of a moment where art, humans, and nature collide.
On the estuary / Indre
Indre: a city representative of the industrial wealth of the estuary, characterized by the presence of large companies, but also by walk ways along the docks lined with beautiful bourgeois houses. That’s where Jimmie Durham installed Serpentine Rouge, a 40 yard long red pipe crawling out of the Loire onto the pontoon and which immediately evokes a serpent, the second one of our journey. But its posture and its shape are different from Serpent d’Océan. Here, the creature is facing the Loire, its mouth wide open, standing up in a defensive or perhaps offensive mode. And where is its tail? Probably far into the depths of the Indre river … Jimmie Durham often plays with common objects and arranges them as to surround them with mystery, thus letting our imagination run wild.
In Nantes / Canal Saint-Félix
It is at sundown that Ange Leccia’s work comes to life and reveals itself on the Canal Saint-Félix in Nantes. Like a modern Nymphéa, Laetitia Casta’s face appears on the surface of the canal and fluctuates in its dark waters. The projection of her face stares at us, constrained by the canal’s banks, barely breathing, accompanied by the soothing movement of the canal’s water. It is evident that Ange Leccia is a painter: this video installation is a contemporary and urban reference to Monet and Giverny.
Snipes, storks, ducks, sparrows, ospreys, lampreys, eels, and mullets: lucky are the ones who can enjoy these works of art whenever they please!