Sunset in the Woods is an iteration of Sunset – collaboration between Ludmila Rodrigues and Mike Rijnierse – presented by Hangar Y, southwest of Paris. The exhibition Prendre le Solei (Seize the Sun) examines the ever familiar, and yet sometimes taken for granted central body of our solar system. Hangar Y is located in the Parisian suburb of Meudon, where pioneering aerospace experiments unfolded in the 19th century. Moreover the landscape design of its gardens date back to the 17th century, hence the hexagonal shape of the pond de Chalais, signed by the very landscape designer of the gardens of Versailles, André Le Nôtre. For the first time in a national park, Sunset in the Woods will bring about a particular relation with nature, radiating for four weeks long during the darkest days of the year. Sunset in the Woods was presented from Dec 13, 2023 to Jan 14, 2024.

Sunset in the Woods, Meudon, 2023; during Prendre Le Soleil, Hangar Y

“Erroneously associated with global warming, the Sun is sometimes unvalued and feared. Its heat reminds us of the sublime mystery of its burning consistency. The sun’s burns, its blows, its traces and its effects activate artists’ imaginations, as do its ambivalences, without which life on Earth would not exist: the sun warms but embitters; it illuminates while dazzling… The contradiction inherent in this star is reminiscent of François de La Rochefoucauld’s famous maxim: “Neither the sun nor death can be stared at”. The abstract, vibrant photographs of a whole new generation of photographers, fascinated by the effect of the sun’s rays on sensitive surfaces, “draw” with the star, reviving the experiments of the inventors of photography and cinema. A sensitive exploration of the sun through the eyes of artists. Some artists take a humorous approach to the motif of the sunset, hijacking it as they go, while others gaze in delight at the sublime moment of eternity when the moon “rises” and the sun disappears.” – Hangar Y

Sunset in the Woods, Hangar Y, Meudon, 2023; artwork by Ludmila Rodrigues & Mike Rijnierse

The sunset, as an everyday phenomenon, exerts a timeless and universal fascination. It is one of the most frequently captured subjects, from the emergence of color photography in the 20th century, to the popularization of smartphones. Broadcast and shared on social networks countless times, the sunset is increasingly being experienced through camera screens. Reduced to a digital depiction, it’s becoming rarer to experience the magnitude and splendor of this phenomenon. With Sunset in the Woods, Ludmila Rodrigues and Mike Rijnierse artificially recreate this natural spectacle to overcome these contradictions. The sunset, by its very nature, fleeting and restricted to a single vantage point, acquires a new perspective thanks to this floating sculpture on the surface of the pond de Chalais, with the Forêt de Meudon in the background. The artwork suspends time and distort space. Lit throughout the night and visible at 360 degrees, Sunset in the Woods renews our experience of the setting sun. The work invites us to stroll slowly and contemplatively, offering the public the opportunity to gravitate around the sun as night falls.

Since the 16th century, the location in the south of Meudon, on the edge of a national forest has been the site of major architectural, aeronautical and artistic innovations. Designed by architect Henri De Dion, Gustave Eiffel’s teacher, Hangar Y came into being in 1879 as the first hangar and aeronautical laboratory in the world; named after the military parcel “Y” where the building was built. Hangar Y was one of the cradles of French aeronautics from the late 19th century to the First World War. The building was recently restored and reopened as both monument and cultural centre for art and science in 2023. Visit: Hangar Y

Landscape designer Christian Fournet and Urban Act have signed the rehabilitation plan for the historic site of the Chalais pond, originally designed by André Le Nôtre in the 17th century. Le Nôtre (1613 – 1700) was the official landscape gardener of King Louis XIV, thus the master builder of the gardens of the Palace of Versailles in 1680. Hangar Y is located within the 3 kilometer long perspective designed by Le Nôtre within Meudon national park.

Sunset in the Woods was on show between Dec 13th, 2023 and Jan 14th, 2024. Prendre le Soleil goes on until April 21st, 2024.

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November 29, 2023