The “Des champs de fraises pour l’éternité” project began in January 2020, just before the pandemic that has now affected the world for more than a year took hold. Originally planned for 2021 the exhibition will finally open in January 2022 and will thus take the current realities onboard. The postponement makes “Des champs de fraises pour l’éternité” out of step with its time, but the delay has meant the exhibition has been able to integrate the reverberations of this period, which many of us have lived, in both visual and conceptual terms, within parentheses.
On revisiting the project in January 2021, we realised that “Des champs de fraises pour l’éternité” would be part of the long line of “post-Covid” exhibitions, presenting at once a risk and an opportunity. The risk lay in falling into repeating such exhibitions, all founded on the same mechanics, of getting a second wind, of being able to breathe, of the calm after the storm. The opportunity rests in offering a particular perspective on artistic creation that, in the face of a reality forcefully driving our emotions, searches for vivacity and magic.
This exhibition offers respite from the economic, ecological, political and social crises we are experiencing. In this space, withdrawal takes the form of a mental escape, which, once effected, allows us to understand reality from new angles. Though increasing industrial progress marked the end of the nineteenth century both historically and structurally, elements of the period’s artistic currents are imbued with obscurantism and a pronounced esotericism (the Nabi movement, Symbolism, etc.).
The crises we initially discussed were structural rather than pandemic related, but these were already entrenched, infiltrating our society, economy, institutions, entertainment and schools, as well as all aspects of politics, ecological and economic. Towards the end of this epidemic, the makeshift tents are still in place, the critical situations remain critical, and prevailing precarity has profited from these many months to remodel its space in the depths of our societies.
The exhibition’s title is clearly a reference to the Beatles’ song, Strawberry Fields Forever, recorded in 1967. Starting from his childhood and the notion of nostalgia – Strawberry Field was a children’s home he played near as a child – John Lennon created an abstract, introspective song about each individual’s vision of the world. Translated into French, the title is somehow even more poetic, immersing us in a totally subjective, hallucinatory universe.
In recent times, the childhood yearning the song evokes has been shattered by domestic, sedentary and claustrophobic intervals where the only way to see the other and the world was via a screen. All this has profoundly changed our relationship to comfort, to technology, to education, and our perception of reality has become multiple. During the weeks of confinement, if representations of nature and world via a screen gave us solace, in this sense, their effect on each of us had been psychotropic.