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Lucy + Jorge Orta: Le Chemin des Fées - Spirits of the Huveaune

Date uploaded: March 27, 2013

Three new Spirits to be unveiled on 6th April 2013

In honor of Marseille-Provence 2013 European Capital of Culture and Fondation de France’s Nouveaux commanditaire, Lucy + Jorge Orta present Le Chemin des Fées - Spirits of the Huveaune, a 30km parcours of five sculptures that map the presence of the Huveaune coastal river from the massif of Sainte Baume to the ancient port of Marseille, Massilia.

The five Spirits of the Huveaune, feminine figures cast into bronze, are situated along the Huveaune river valley between the spring, deep in the Provence Alps, and the estuary at the Mediterranean, the ancient sea port of Massilia. The legendry, supernatural and the imaginary are the artists’ sources of inspiration collated from historical texts, local legends and stories recounting the feminine presence associated with the Huveaune river and the valley.

April 6, 2013 marks the inauguration of three such spirits: la Fée de la source - Marie at the Martellière, Saint-Zacharia; la Fée du pont - Ubelka at the Moulin Saint-Claude, Auriol; and la Fée des berges - Manon at the Îlot des Berges Park, Aubagne.

A fourth spirit, La Fée du vieux moulin (Gyptis), was unveiled in October 2012 in the Vieux Moulin Park, and the fifth and final spirit, la Fée du lac - Ophélie, will be inaugurated in Borély Park this coming May.

The spirits invest each site as genii loci, weaving a link between the past and present. Referring to the universal water cycle, Le Chemin des Fées aims to raise public awareness of environmental issues related to the river’s fate, particularly water management in the future, there as elsewhere. 

Chemin des Fées was commissioned by the Association Rives et Cultures.

Spirits of the Huveaune: Each sculpture comprising Spirits of the Huveaune depicts a different spirit derived from historical texts and local legends from the valley of the Huveaune. These spirits, dreaming or alert, melancholic or resolved, invest these sites like genii loci and weave an unprecedented link between the past and the present. They invite visitors to discover the Huveaune and new ways to explore the river valley. Referring to the universal water cycle, Spirits of the Huveaune aims to raise public awareness of environmental issues related to the river’s fate, thereby raising the question of water management in the future, here as elsewhere.

Legend has it that, when choosing her husband, the Ligurian princess Gyptis offered (as was the custom) water to the Greek navigator Protis. From their union Marseille was born. The figure of Gyptis symbolises the opening of the city to the Mediterranean and beyond, to other horizons, peoples and cultures. Lucy + Jorge Orta have imagined Gyptis as the spirit of Marseille’s ancient water mill, imperturbable and serene, who awaits the encounter. Ambassador of nature, she prepares to receive her guests. In the water cycle, Gyptis refers to the condensation stage, where water vapour transforms into dew. She embodies unity and fraternity. Gyptis was inaugurated Sunday October 13,2012 in the Parc du vieux Moulin, Marseille on the occasion of the Fete de l’Huveaune. (see image)


9th Shanghai Biennale

Lucy + Jorge Orta will also be taking part in the 9th Shanghai Biennale. For the Biennale, Lucy + Jorge Orta are commissioned to make three large-scale interventions for the Museum of Contemporary Art: OrtaWater Purification Factory, Antarctica World Passport Delivery Village and Nexus Architecture. 

OrtaWater Purification Factory is a fully functioning, mobile water purification system. The work will draw from Shanghai’s Huang Pu River and will pump water up 20 metres into the museum’s third floor. It will be purified in a bamboo ‘factory’ and then clean drinking water snaked around the museum for the visitors to taste, enjoy and take away in a specially designed OrtaWater bottle.

Due to the effects of global warming it is estimated that sea levels will raise 0.5 to 1.4 metres over the next 100 years. Antarctica World Passport Delivery Village is comprised of a collection of small huts made from reclaimed materials, erected on stilts and interconnected by a raised platform of bamboo. A Metisse Flag will indicate the delivery bureau, where a passport officer will hand out the third edition of the Antarctica World Passport. Printed in Chinese for the occasion of the Shanghai Biennale, tens of thousands of passports will be distributed to museum visitors. New members will be welcomed into the Antarctica world community based on the founding principles of the Antarctic Treaty.

Nexus Architecture is both an installation and a performance. These ephemeral interventions draw performers and passers-by alike into choreographed scenarios, later documented in photographs and on film. By climbing into specially conceived suits and zippering the Nexus, participants challenge the premise of interdependence, asserting chosen community as a means to personal liberation.

Click here for more information about Lucy + Jorge Orta.

'La Fée du vieux moulin (Gyptis)'. Courtesy of The Artists, Fondation de France program Nouveaux Commanditaires and Rives & Cultures

'La Fée du vieux moulin (Gyptis)'. Courtesy of The Artists, Fondation de France program Nouveaux Commanditaires and Rives & Cultures