Contemporary Art | The term “floating world” refers to a central concept in Japanese culture that has progressively transcended its religious and pictorial origins, influencing the Western art world. The concept carries an interpretation of post-modern societies, including issues of displacement, movement and reversals; while also approaching the subjects of plurality and the fragility of the individual’s representation systems.
Derived from the Japanese artistic movement Ukiyo (浮世 / 1603-1868), the term Floating world expresses the impermanence of things through paintings and woodblock prints, portraying the carefreeness of a society in the middle of a social and economic mutation. Its essence lies in the observation and appreciation of life as it unfolds before our eyes.
Mathieu Briand plays with the concept of impermanence in his exhibitions Le Monde Flottant (the Floating World) and Derrière le Monde Flottant (Behind the Floating world) at the Palais de Tokyo in 2003 and at the Musée d’Art Contemporain de Lyon in 2004. The artist created immersive installations that plunged the viewer in a space with a moving ground, inspired by the phenomenon of standing waves.
In this way, the artist conceives a parallel between the representation systems of the individual as expressed in the artistic field (material and intellectual) and the biological reality; that is to say, between the imperfection of our thinking process and the harmony of the living world. This artistic vision is also apparent in Marcel Duchamp’s historical work Elevage de poussière in which he couples the notions of determination and indetermination.
Emma Lavigne also chose this fundamental subject in order to conceive the guiding thread for the 2017 Lyon Biennale. The exhibition gathered Western and non-Western artists (Ernesto Neto…), historical artists (Hans Haacke, Richard Buckminster-Fuller…) and modern ones. The project specifically aims at interweaving the visual and auditory fields, creating an intimate bond between the conscious state of the floating movement and an almost independent acoustic space (Susanna Fritscher, Cildo Meireles or Celeste Boursier-Mougenot…) ; in this case sound allows the visitor to get closer to reality, to appropriate it and be submerged in it, reaching its outpouring of life.