Entitled La peau de chagrin, the exhibit is a reconstruction of a piece of road, an acknowledgement to the infrastructure project that would have built a road through the heart of the Hortillonnages, which is now protected. The symbol of an ecological struggle which, in 1974, succeeded in cancelling a project for a bypass, the sculpture finally represents it, 47 years later.
Driven by the increase in economic exchanges, the Amiens bypass extension project was directly related to an idea of growth, and the well-being of nature seemed to have been overlooked. Once again in today’s world, economic growth takes precedence over the preservation of nature, and to safeguard it, is seen as a perpetual action, engaged as a safeguard against what modernity hides within itself: a utilitarian vision of nature, considering it as a resource to be exploited.
If the Hortillonnages in Amiens has avoided an upheaval of its natural environment, it is clear that, insidiously, its space has been considerably reduced over the years, conceding 97% of the original 10,000 hectares to the development of the city around it.
The skin of sorrow refers to the novel by Honoré de Balzac in which the protagonist has the opportunity to make his wishes come true at the cost of seeing the size of a piece of leather decrease and gradually erode the lifespan of its owner. Satire on the conflict between desire and longevity, the character dies of bitterness, driven by a last desire, to live again.
The work uses this concentric mirror as a message medium which is more ambiguous than it seems. This piece of the ring road floating in the water is an absurdity, the irony of an unrealised dream of modernity, drifting with the forces that come and go. A symbol of a hard-won fight in the form of an iceberg. Through this sample of the road which drifts, as if detached from the world, there is almost the charm of a still life. However, the volume seems asleep, waiting. Its presence, a potential link between the natural site and the city in the distance, sounds the alarm. In these troubled waters, the sculpture is dissonant, formulating by making reality tremble through the story of what could have happened, or perhaps what is already there.