“Anima Mundi” is about History, longue durée (long term, as the expression used by French historian Ferrnand Braudel) and death. The aim is to propose another vision of History, leaning on the basilica and its crypts, places of iconography and homage, as well as historical sedimentation. This exhibition crystallizes another relationship with time and transmits a syncretic vision of History, notably by exhibiting recent works alongside the sarcophagi of late Antiquity, where Christian and pagan funerary art were mixed together, far from any idea of cultural purity. “Anima Mundi” takes the works out of the post-war white cube, to link them to an ancient monument and, modestly, to insert them into History.
History, which summons death, also allows us to take a step back from it. Taking the opposite side of modernity, “Anima Mundi” wants, on the contrary to hide death, to give it back its place as a natural and daily phenomenon. The abbey has inspired artists such as Bella Hunt & Ddc or Jenna Käes as a rock cemetery, located under a church occupied by the living. The sarcophagi and shrouds produced by the artists add to the ancient and medieval remains of the crypts.
All the artists in the exhibition focus on the resurgence of forms and time. Rather than praising the present time, they call upon the depth of time to create their works, which are a tribute to the place, its builders and its history. They all share an interest in pre-modern art and a great respect for the past. Seniority is a value here, according to the notion theorized by the philosopher and art historian Alois Riegl in the 19th century.
The Noetic necromass, to quote Bernard Stiegler, who composes the limestone of the building, underlines the importance of the crypts as the very matrix of the “Anima Mundi” exhibition. This “soul of the world”, dear to the neo-Platonic philosophers and symbolized by the ouroboros, symbolizes vital energy and the cycle of existence, and in this way joins the humus, the limestone concretion, the tombs and the bodies resting in the crypts; beyond death, they join the living world by returning to the earth. The exhibition aims to be, without nostalgia, the memory of the world.