30 March - 26 May 2012
30 March - 26 May, 2012
For the exhibition Yellow River, Wilfred ALMENDRA (born in 1972 in Cholet, lives and works in Rennes) presents the eponymous installation as well as a set of wall sculptures from the series Basement.
The work Yellow River is a 36 elements sculpture made of cased reinforced concrete piles, in various shapes and sizes but of the same height, covered for the most part with polished stainless steel mirror plates and illuminated by four powerful spotlights releasing an intense yellow light. These blocks reproduce the square ground plan of Masdar City, a new city currently under construction in the desert of Abu Dhabi. Designed by British architect Sir Norman Foster, Masdar City aims to be an ecological model metropolis and will be home to 50,000 people living in the world's first zero-carbon, zero-waste, car-free community , a prototype for cities in the future.
Emerging from the vertical blocks like a public sculpture or a publicity sign is a wood reproduction of the open hand symbol of Chandigarh- experimental and social capital of the Indian states of Pendjab and Haryana constructed in 1951 by LE CORBUSIER that implements his architectural and urban theories- linking these two projects of new utopian cities.
But if LE CORBUSIER saw in the hand a symbol of remembrance, of giving and exchanging between men, and in its lines the expression of the traffic that innervate a city, it seems here to express more a future that came to an end.
While Chandigarh has become more like a museum than a city that fell short of its original ideals, Masdar City, a sustainable metropolis built on oil money will be reserved for the elite. Futuristic and rising out of the desert like a mirage, looking like a picture out of a science fiction film, Masdar City will be surrounded by high walls to keep out the hot winds and the sand storms, while its modest workers will be relegated to outside its walls.
Encased by an overwhelming yellow light, reminiscent of the desert sun but also of the lights of the construction site where workers rotate through24 shifts to build Masdar City, the stainless steel plates of Yellow River evoke roofs covered with solar panels that will ensure an energy self sufficient city, as well as its mirrored building facades.
These plates reflect the open hand of Chandigarh as well as ten works from the series Basement. In these wall sculptures, Wilfred ALMENDRA transforms a piece of asphalt, taken from a road, into a bare terrain, on which he creates a concrete casting incorporating a reduced scale standard plan of a " builder’s house ". Giving various heights to the different parts of each house, he seems to bring out modernist villas, kinds of diverted models of the original plans. Beyond the abstract beauty of this assembly, Wilfred ALMENDRA stresses the conflict between the individualistic desire embodied in houses that are supposed to match the individuality of their owners and its standardized reality.
Thus, around the Yellow River, the city now reserved for the elite, suburban sets for middle and working classes from Basement are aligned. In sum, the impossibility of a city.