Galerie Gabrielle Maubrie 24, rue Sainte-Croix de la Bretonnerie 75004 Paris  tel: 01 42 78 03 97 fax: 01 42 74 54 00
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“How green was my valley”
(Towards ecology of body and mind)
With Hrafnkell Sigurdsson & Alex Maclean

Exhibition from January 22 to March 15, 2015

The legend of the Hummingbird

The name of the Ecolieu “The little Colibri” was chosen in reference to a Native American Indian tale told by Pierre Rabhi.
One day, says the legend, there was a huge forest fire. All the animals where terrified and aghast helplessly watched the disaster. Only the little hummingbird did something, going to get a few drops of water in his beak to throw on to the fire. After a moment the armadillo, annoyed by his ridiculous behavior, said: “Colibri, are you crazy? You think with these few drops of water you can put out the fire?” “I know, replied the hummingbird, but I am doing my part”.

Pierre Rabhi is a farmer, a French writer and thinker, today recognized as an international expert on food security. He participated in the drafting of the UN convention on the fight against desertification. He defends a society more respectful of people and the earth and supports de development of agricultural practices accessible to all, especially the poor, while preserving the foster heritage.


For 30 years Alex Maclean looks over from the sky for some shots on a much wider dimension then photography, rather a scientific and demonstrative value framed by a reflection and analysis of galloping urbanism with positive and negative approach in these shots.
Through these photographs, he shows organizations and urban developments that define the different lifestyles and consumption. Evolutions of perception of the urban world. Alex Maclean captures certain truths on urban issues.
He addresses the fundamental challenges of the XXI century: atmosphere, lifestyle, automobile dependence, electricity, deserts, water use, rising waters, waste and recycling, urban planning.
Then, view from the sky, nothing is spared. Unless of an ecological revolution.
Alex Maclean produces a singular work that was not imposed by the strong will of its author- at a time when the strategy replaced inspiration and where sincerity gives place to the spectacle, but because one discerns a look on the world, a plastic force.


In his most recent works Hrafnkell Sigurdsson frequently treats topic of the wasting while referring with packing, this sign obvious of the consumer society. His recent triptych is a perfect example. Etymologiquement a triptych means folded in three, which in fact is a sort of wrapping around oneself, because the wrapped object is missing. The shutters fold back on to the center part.
The wrapping paper sends us back directly to Freud, in his “Faintness in the Civilization “ of 1929. Scattered papers, that littered the paths of the Viennese forest and that the psychiatrist took as a sign incompatible with a civilized state, but nevertheless the most evident signs of our civilization. Perhaps it is sad, but although it is in waste that we are above the other animals.

For some earlier voyagers on the Grand Tour the passage through the Alps was an unwelcome terror. The genteel cities of northern Europe were barricaded by chasms and fractured peaks from the picturesque climes of southern Italy. This landscape in unreasoned ruin was an intrusion and infliction upon their cultured senses. To save their eyes from the horror, it was common for the blinds in their carriage to be drawn during their transit through the high mountains.
A hibernal landscape and a great expanse of azure is opened – gives way – to reveal a tumultuous eruption. Two facets of nature and two quintessential Icelandic images. Yet unlike those on the Grand Tour this vulgarity of nature, the volcano Eyjafjallajökull, is perceived with awe, fear and amazement. The global response to Eyjafjallajökull's activity in the spring of 2010 was an instance of the contemporary sublime, the power and magnitude of the volcano was felt around the world. The volcano brought wide-scale chaos through the grounding of aircraft. It was, in the main, an invisible terror but one that brought a humbling sense of scale to the world.
Where the travelers on the Grand Tour choose to shut their blinds to the horror of the mountains, Sigurdsson offers a similar possibility. He presents an implicit invitation to choose and change the scene that greets us. It tempts a moral reading of hierarchy between the images but one that is left unresolved or incomplete. Through the repeated opening and closing of the work the absolute recedes; man is the fulcrum to meaning. As beautiful as the images are we understand them as cultural objects, it is just as Protagoras, the ancient Greek philosopher, observed, "Man is the measure of all things”.


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