Navigation Room by Nicolas Darrot is one of the new artworks from the Setouchi Triennale 2022.
Unfortunately, I’ve seen it only once, so I’m not as familiar with it as I’d like to be before telling you about it. The good news is that it seems to be permanent, or at least long-term. As a matter of fact, along with the other artworks of Megijima, it is open this week (if the upcoming typhoon doesn’t throw a wrench into these plans).
The installation, located in a former beach house on Megijima (that has housed other artworks during previous Triennales), is a bit abstract. While I understand that some foreign artists (even more so during the pandemic) can’t spend extensive time on the island and get familiarized with it, I’m always a bit frustrated when Setouchi Triennale artworks bear little to no relation to their environment. Even more so, when they tend to be highly conceptual (a specialty of European artists, especially French ones.)
However, with that being said… Navigation Room works, somehow…
I’m not exactly sure why. Probably because it’s visually pleasant. The backdrop (Megijima’s beach and the Seto Inland Sea) definitely helps.
It’s supposed to be related to the Odyssey. I’m not sure how, nor do I care. I believe an artwork must speak for itself most of the time, especially if it’s not linked to an obvious context.
So, yes, this mobile installation works. I’m not sure it would work in another location, but it does in this house on Megijima. So all is well.
Also, it reminds me a little bit of some of the earlier works of Yoshifumi Oshima. I see the same “search of poetry in moving objects” in both (my interpretation.)
Indeed, it is composed of all sorts of moving parts. There’s music too. Pictures don’t really properly depict what it is, so I shot a small video. Be warned, it’s far from being great. It was a bit crowded on that day, and while I’m not bad at pretending otherwise with pictures, it’s much more difficult on video, so there are many strange cuts, you’ve been warned.
For most Triennales, I’ve interviewed some artists when I could, especially Westerners, but unfortunately, I didn’t last year for reasons. It’s a shame because I would have liked to speak with Nicolas Darrot. Ironically, I almost met him on the day his artwork opened. I was on Ogijima with Oscar Oiwa on that day, and we returned to Takamatsu together. Nicolas Darrot boarded Meon when the ferry arrived at Megijima. He saw us, and we thought he was going to join us – Oscar and he had briefly met a few days prior – but he just nodded hello and sat somewhere else. He probably didn’t know who I was and didn’t dare to disturb us.
I promise to try contacting him if Navigation Room is still there for the Setouchi Triennale 2025.
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