Collection Garance Primat opens Primordial Waters at Domaine des Etangs curated by Claudia Paetzold. - FAD Magazine

FAD Magazine

FAD Magazine covers contemporary art – News, Exhibitions and Interviews reported on from London

Collection Garance Primat opens Primordial Waters at Domaine des Etangs curated by Claudia Paetzold.

World cosmologies often describe our origins as watery…these cosmogonic waters are almost always dark and still, a reflection of our own beginnings – a cosmic void of amniotic fluid that gives birth to form.

– Jemma Foster

Collection Garance Primat has opened Primordial Waters, a new exhibition curated by Claudia Paetzold at Domaine des Etangs a historic French chateau in Massignac, France.

The exhibition explores water as the foundation of life through works from the collection and four new artist commissions by Nina Canell, Tomoko Sauvage, Daniel Steegmann Mangrané and Sissel Tolaas. Through performance, sculpture, light, sound and olfactive installations, the exhibition will explore how water has shaped, is shaping and will continue to shape who we are, with artists responding to the Estate’s lakeland ecology.

Primordial Waters will run until 22nd March 2024 with further commissions and activations set to be revealed around each of the equinoxes, as the exhibition evolves with the changing seasons.

Artworks in the exhibition will be deeply attuned to their surroundings, drawing from the distinctive landscape and dedicated stewardship that defines the Domaine. Using water to explore the acoustic properties of its environs, Tomoko Sauvage will create a new performance for the opening of the exhibition. Six performers will play a collection of standing bells from different regions of Asia in one of the Domaine’s seven lakes. Amplified by hydrophones installed on the lakebed, their captivating sound and vibrations will extend into the gallery as part of the ethereal and immersive sound installation For Floating Bells and Amplified Lake (where centenary mussels dwell) (2023).

Other sonic works include Saying Water (2007) by Roni Horn which invites us to contemplate water as the source of all life, and herman de vries’s historic piece Water, the Music of Sound 1 (1977), a meditation on life, humanity, nature and art.

The exhibition will present a new commission by Daniel Steegmann Mangrané, whose work transcends the apparent dichotomy between nature and culture. In Fantomas (2023), five thin aluminium chains extend from floor to ceiling, each one punctuated by an elusive symbol. Blurring the boundaries between shape and sign, two- and three-dimensional space, the linear and the organic, these forms conjure the mysterious yet palpable force that connects all things. The installation will give rise to another commission by Mangrané to be unveiled later in the year, testament to the exhibition as an evolving perceptual experience.

Sissel Tolaas’ site-specific work, NEWS sinking {IN}formation, (2023 -) will evoke the essence of the waters of the Domaine. Analysing samples taken from the oldest lake’s cardinal points – at the North, East, West and South – the molecular data will be used to replicate the smell of the waters. The scent will become perceptible in the gallery space via emitters triggered by atmospheric movement over the lake. Tolaas will also ‘hack’ the air conditioning system so that twice a day at high tide, the smell of the Atlantic Ocean floods the space, highlighting the interconnectivity of the waters.

In Nina Canell’s Days of Inertia (2023) thin layers of water will pool on a series of impactites: terrestrial rocks transformed by the immense heat and pressure resulting from a meteor striking the Domaine 260 million years ago. As a sculptural material, it alludes to the theory that meteorites provided the raw material for the ‘primordial soup’ that was the origin of life itself. While the water surface appears inert, it will subtly reflect the atmospheric pressure and changing light of the surroundings, making the intangible visible.

Olafur Eliasson’s Sound System Versus Void Sequence (2021) evokes pigments created from pieces of ancient glacial ice, highlighting water’s role as a connecting element for all life. Elsewhere, his immersive light installation The Casting of Soon after Now (2021) presents a window onto the beginning of the universe with reflections reminiscent of cosmic light, while Antireductionist Mirror Spiral (2021) outlines the shape of a double helix akin to our cosmic DNA. Tracing how the colour blue has shaped human perception from our deep evolutionary past to our digital age, a series of works by Pamela Rosenkranz from 2018 to 2021 recalls the emergence of life from the depths of the ocean. These will resonate with a work by Yves Klein, Untitled blue monochrome (IKB 182) (1961), on view upon entering the exhibition and which represents the immaterial and infinite.

Yves Klein, Untitled blue monochrome (IKB 182) (1961). Image Arthur Péquin.
Yves Klein, Untitled blue monochrome (IKB 182) (1961). All Images Arthur Péquin.

Weaving together the threads of past and present, Paetzold has also selected works by Tomás Saraceno, who was the subject of a previous solo exhibition at the Domaine. His monumental site-specific installation Cloud Cities: du sol au soleil (2022) will be mirrored inside the exhibition space by the double cloud Cumulonimbus M + Mw (2018), taking inspiration from the Domaine’s ecosystems to wander through human and non-human universes, revealing the fragile ties that bind these worlds together. By placing works from the collection in new exhibition contexts, Paetzold explores ideas of connections across time, reflecting the richly layered history of the Domaine.

Curator Claudia Paetzold commented:

Primordial Waters explores the nature of water as the origin of life, and a symbol for the interconnectedness of all things throughout time. This theme is especially pertinent to Domaine des Etangs: a diverse lakeland ecosystem that was marked by the impact of a meteorite more than 200 million years ago. Evolving over the course of its nine-month duration, the multi-sensorial exhibition is conceived as a living experience. The works on display will invite us to reflect on our existence within the larger cycles of life, attuning visitors to the rhythms of nature.

As a necessity for life, water is an essential part of our being ingrained in every one of us. Together, the works in this exhibition stir the tides in our own bodies and remind us that we are a part of a greater whole.


Collection Garance Primat is a museum-quality art collection founded by French entrepreneur and philanthropist Garance Primat. Primarily housed at Domaine des Etangs – Primat’s 2,500-acre estate in Massignac, France – the Collection comprises over 1,000 works including contemporary pieces by some of the world’s leading artists, such as Olafur Eliasson, Sheila Hicks, Richard Long, Ugo Rondinone, Tomás Saraceno and Lee Ufan.

Dedicated to supporting and presenting significant work which responds to our environment, the Collection has a particular emphasis on site-specific commissions and outdoor sculptures sited across the Domaine, connecting individuals and communities with nature through art. Works from the collection have been loaned to major institutions across the globe including: the Menil Collection, Texas; the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego, California; the Henie Onstad Art Center, Norway; the Hepworth Museum, UK; and Fondation Cartier, Paris.

The founder of CP Art Advisory and Curating Evolution, Claudia Paetzold is a curator with nearly two decades of experience working with some of the world’s most prestigious collections and art organisations. Her curatorial work is distinguished by a unique and innovative approach that places art at the center of awareness and evolution. She has developed original concepts that integrate contemporary art, ancestral knowledge, technological innovation, and applied sustainability, culminating in new ways of creating and experiencing art.



Related Posts

Trending Articles

Join the FAD newsletter and get the latest news and articles straight to your inbox

* indicates required