Shona Illingworth © Adagp ; photogr. courtesy de l'artiste

Shona Illingworth

Topologies of Air

Les Abattoirs Musée-Frac Occitanie are pleased to present Topologies of Air, the first solo exhibition in France of the Danish-Scottish artist Shona Illingworth. Through a body of work that explores our complex relationship to the sky, the result of interdisciplinary research combining science, geopolitics and human rights, Shona Illingworth explores our complex relationship to the sky and addresses the modes of exploration and exploitation of the sky and their impact on the earth.

The result of several years of research and exchanges with numerous international experts, Shona Illingworth's work invites us to consider our world as a whole and to extend our perception and sensitivity by shifting our gaze to what lies above our heads. How has our history of the sky been written? Who and what occupies the air today? We fly, cross the sky, explore it without knowing its limits, communicate on a daily basis thanks to satellites. Yet a whole part of the sky, its activity and its ramifications remain invisible.  Who owns the sky we all look at, every day, in every part of the world?

The exhibition, conceived with the artist as a journey through the different layers of the sky, is structured around the work Topologies of Air, an immersive video triptych analysing the radical transformation of the sky by mankind since the development of aviation, into a hostile, disputed and plural space. The exhibition shows the image of a restless, often invisible world, the terrain of many issues that disrupts the idea of a space where peace and silence reign, to which our senses refer.

This exhibition will be extended on Thursday 26 January 2023 through a People's Assembly, a new stage in the "airspace tribunals", collective discussion spaces that the artist has been creating for several years in Toronto, London, Sydney, Sharjah and now in Toulouse. This popular assembly, which brings together the public and specialists from different disciplines, enriches the reflection undertaken by analysing the modes of application of this right (access to the sky, space debris, privatisation, etc.), while continuing a reflection on the functioning of traditional legal institutions.

In this perspective, the last room of the exhibition, composed of the artist's archives and documents, is an invitation to rethink one's relationship with the sky and to react to the establishment of a right to be protected from any celestial threat.

This exhibition continues the initiatives undertaken by the Abattoirs to decompartmentalise disciplines and knowledge and propose new ways of thinking about our world. It is also in line with the ambition to make the museum a place for the co-construction of knowledge with the public and to offer a participatory experience.

An exhibition initiated and curated by The Power Plant Contemporary Art Gallery, Toronto, Canada, sponsored by the TD Ready Commitment.

The installation Topologies of Air, was commissioned and funded by The Wapping Project, supported by Bahrain Authority for Culture and Antiquities, Sharjah Art Foundation, British Council, Arts Council England and University of Kent.