Like the generations of leaves are those of men.
The wind blows and one year’s leaves are scattered on the ground,
But the trees bud and fresh leaves open when spring comes again.
And so a generation of men is born as another passes away.
HOMER, The Iliad, Book VI
The Odyssey is Yann Dumoget’s photos exhibition at Galerie Alice Mogabgab, Beirut. In his recent photographs the artist does not concern himself with the heroic adventures of the illustrious Ulysses, but with this large wave of forced displacement, the largest in the Mediterranean region since the Roman Empire, sweeping across Europe today: the wave of migrants.
In October 2015, Yann Dumoget was invited to take part in an awareness campaign concerning the fate of the world’s migrant population. He explains: “My initial thought went out to those fragile skiffs, full to the brim with terrified people braving storms on an immense sea, to those cockle shells likely to founder from one minute to the next, amidst general indifference. Via a curious association of ideas my next thought sent me back to Calais, my early childhood city. Not the Calais of the eponymous jungle where poor wretches slide about in the freezing mud, dreaming day in, day out of the lucky ship that will take them across the Channel. But the carefree Calais era when my grandfather passed down – to the amazed young child that I was then – his method of transforming real walnuts into small boats, enabling him to travel to the far corners of his vivid imagination. Walnuts are seeds well before they become boats and ultimately, nothing better has been found for moving between different generations. We humans are also seeds, longing to open up and blossom.”
In Yann Dumoget’s photographic landscapes, tiny boat-walnut shells are floating on the calm water of a pond, in the soft autumn light. The breeze fills the sails made of leaves, pushing these delicate life-giving vessels towards other places. Here everything is calm, gentle and slow, somewhat like the painting by Pieter Breughel the Elder, Landscape with the Fall of Icarus, where, amidst general indifference, a tragedy occured.
Yann Dumoget, born in France 1970, lives and works in Montpellier.
After graduating in history of art from the Université Paul Valery in Montpellier in 1993, Dumoget began his career in the visual arts in 1999 by doing the performance of painting a painting a day for a whole year, meaning 366 paintings during the year 2000, a process culminating in his first public exhibition at the Carré Sainte-Anne in Montpellier. Represented at the time by the Galerie Didier Vesse, he thereafter moved to Berlin, and went on to exhibit in France, Germany, Spain and Japan.
In 2002, at the occasion of the 11th Documenta in Kassel, the artist enjoyed a great success with his pirate exhibition Doklomenta. In 2004 he returned to France where he developed a painting style combining ‘relational’ aesthetics and post-graffiti. In 2008 he embarked on a two-year long tour round the world, taking him to thirty some countries for his ‘relational’ work Le chant des pistes. Upon his return in 2011 he was invited by Paul Ardenne to take part in the exhibition Ailleurs at the Espace Culturel Louis Vuitton in Paris. It is during this period that his work becomes diversified, taking different forms as in, for example, the photography for the exhibition Krisis at the Artothèque in Caen, the installation for Economie Humaine at the Espace Contemporain HEC Paris, both in 2014, or the video and Internet for Global Snapshot at the arts centre La Panacée in Montpellier in May 2015.