One of the most ambitious and imaginative exhibitions I saw this summer was ‘Les Maîtres du Désordre’ (translated as ‘Masters of Chaos’) at Musée du quai Branly in Paris. The building itself is an incredible piece of design defined by a lush vertical garden against the backdrop of the Eiffel Tower.
The constant fight waged by gods against demons in the cosmologies of many different cultures illustrates this fragile equilibrium of the world. Order and chaos, destruction and creation follow each other cyclically and are at the root of the founding myths of our societies.
These are the words at the entrance of the exhibition which is then divided into three sections: ‘imperfect order’ deals with “figures of destabilization” like Dionysus and Thunder who “introduce confusion in the sequence of rules and the human condition” and by doing so, set the world into motion. ‘The Mastery of Chaos’ brings up the idea of rituals – a way to communicate with the powers that be so as to restore balance and alleviate human suffering. But in order to do so, there must be a middleman – a shaman, avatar, or genie who must take a magical journey to negotiate with celestial beings. these are in the shape of “ascending ladders, levitation, on the backs of flying animals, or through psychotropic substances like peyote.”
‘Catharsis’ marks the the “unleashing of the body in the excitement of celebration.” From Bacchanalias to carnivals and a video installation of our very own Holi celebrations, it seems “such excesses are necessary for the renewal of nature or society.”
Although curated by a (clearly) structuralist point of view, the exhibition was informative, engaging and spanned a wide variety of cultures. A definite must-see.
Luckily this is travelling exhibition so if you’re in Germay or Spain you can catch it here:
- Kunst-und Ausstellungshalle der Bundesrepublik Deutschland (Bonn, Germany) from 31 August to 2 December 2012
- Fundació “la Caixa” (Madrid, Spain) from 7 February to 19 May 2013