Anne & Patrick Poirier
15 Sep 2018 - 03 Feb 2019
The artistic quest of Patrick and Anne Poirier began nearly fifty years ago in Rome. During an artist-in-residence period at Villa Medici, the French Academy there, they became fascinated with the age-old ruins and other traces of the past that remain visible throughout the city. Since then, memory has played a major role in their work, along with the vulnerability of culture, nature and mankind. From the start of their joint career, the Poiriers have assumed alternating roles as architects and archeologists. Archeological excavations attest not only to decay or destruction by a war or a natural disaster that took place long ago. Ruins, to them, are also a sign of vitality, a metaphor for life that keeps on going in an uninterrupted chain of birthand death - of construction and destruction.
Driven by curiosity, Patrick and Anne Poirier roam the past in different ways. Born in France during World War II, they have been mapping out archeological sites since 1969. Not only in ancient Rome, but also in all sorts of places elsewhere in the world: from Angor Wat, a partly overgrown temple complex in Cambodia,to Los Angeles, a modern metropolis that had been hit by an earthquake just prior to their stay there. At the location they take photographs and make notes and collect remains as well as plants. Together this material constitutes the basis for maquettes, series of photographs and works on paper.
Ever since ancient times, the memory has often been pictured as a building with rooms that hold an endless supply of images and recollections. The Poiriers regard their sculptures as designs for physical buildings, but at the same time they are also metaphors for 'mental' buildings. Sometimes as archeologists, then as architects, they carry out excavations and construct ruins of the past, the present and the future. But these can moreover be seen as utopias that have escaped the tyranny of time.
In recent decades their work has been on view only occasionally in the Netherlands. The exhibition at De Pont will provide, for the first time, a broad retrospective ranging from the 1970s to the present. Their most recent work, a large tapestry, deals with the subject of Palmyra. The archeological site of this famous age-old city was badly damaged during the war in Syria. Like many of their works, it shows how the present and the past are inextricably intertwined.