THE EXHIBITION

IN THE AIR, FLYING MACHINES

A new cultural destination in Greater Paris at the crossroads of art, science and technology, history and nature, Hangar Y opens its doors to the public on March 22, 2023 with a major inaugural exhibition organized by The Art Explora Foundation, invited by Hangar Y as part of its sponsorship program, and covering the first 6 months of opening.

Curated by Marie-Laure Bernadac, honorary general curator and independent curator, in collaboration with Blanche de Lestrange, artistic director ofArt Explora, Dans l'air, les machines volantes pays tribute to the Hangar Y's primary function, offering a rich exploration of the history of aeronautics, with some one hundred works and archives on display: poetic paintings, installations, monumental sculptures playing on the hijacking of machines, contemplative or political videos, photographs, models and archives.

"Echoing the foundation's dual mission of supporting creation in all its forms and building bridges between disciplines afin order to reach out to an ever-wider audience, Hangar Y's history and the beauty of its spaces and grounds enable us to present artists already established on the international scene and emerging creators in an exceptional setting, while developing mediation tools that are open and accessible to all.
The aim of our programming is to enable everyone not just to be a visitor, but to play a part in what they see or feel, through universal themes, aimed at all generations, and linked to the past and the scientific origins of Hangar Y. We very quickly wanted to delve into the exceptional history of this building, linked to aerostation, aeronautics, science and technology, progress and the fascination of flight, and confront it with the artists' viewpoints. Flying, whether a success or a failure, whether at the origin of the design of dream or war machines, has shaped collective and individual memories.
Conceived as a vast cabinet of curiosities, this rich exhibition blends contemporary and historical perspectives, works of art brut and objects from museum collections, including the archives of the Musée de l'Air et de l'Espace, around this fascinating theme. "

Blanche de Lestrange, artistic director ofArt Explora

This project began with Hangar Y, the historic site where the first aerostation tests were carried out. We had to build on this history, recall the origins of the architecture, and evoke the Hangar with photographs, archives and
collectibles. But above all, we had to invite contemporary artists, the "flying fools" who, in various ways, tackle the question of flight, from balloons to drones, planes and rockets. The exhibition tells the story of these adventures, of the "sky builders" who have been blazing new trails in space, linking the Earth to the cosmos and other planets since the first trip to the Moon. Today, airplanes get a bad press because they pollute the skies and consume energy with a high carbon footprint. In times of war, they are also perceived as terrifying weapons that kill by dropping bombs. Our exhibition is not an account of this dark side of aeronautics, but rather a reminder of human ingenuity, the exploits of the first navigators, the beauty of balloons and airplanes, and above all the fascination they hold for artists. 

Marie-Laure Bernadac, exhibition curator

The exhibition

‍Inthe air, flying machines

Ali Cherri, The Flying Machine, 2017, Courtesy Ali Cherri and galerie Imane Farès

Hangar Y's inaugural exhibition, Dans l'air, les machines volantes, is organized by Art Explora, invited by Hangar Y as part of its sponsorship program. It pays tribute to Hangar Y's primary function, offering a rich exploration of the history of flying machines.

Taking as her starting point the universal fascination of human beings with flight, and the many inventions that have made it possible, throughout the 20th century, to aspire to this goal, exhibition curator Marie-Laure Bernadac, in collaboration with Blanche de Lestrange, Artistic Director ofArt Explora, has focused on the ways in which these devices for elevation and transport in the air, and their transformations over time, have inspired artists.

While the beginnings of these innovations can be found as early as the Renaissance in Leonardo da Vinci's sketches, the advent of the first flying machines in the 19th century inspired the artistic avant-garde of the early 20th century, as well as many contemporary and art brut artists.

The exhibition brings together over sixty works covering a variety of currents over much of the twentieth century. Taking its title from the work of aviation pioneer Alberto Santos-Dumont (Dans l'air, 1904), the exhibition features a selection of poetic paintings, installations, monumental sculptures playing on the misappropriation of machines, contemplative or political videos, photographs and models.
The exhibition features 20th-century artists and inventors such as André-Victor Édouard Devambez, Léon Spilliaert and Gustav Mesmer, alongside major figures in international artistic creation such as Adel Abdessemed, Doug Aitken and Fiona Banner, Alighiero Boetti, Mircea Cantor, Ali Cherri, Sylvie Fleury, Joana Hadjithomas and Khalil Joreige, Sophie Jung, Robert Longo, Ahmet Öğüt, Laure Prouvost, Shimabuku or Roman Signer, not forgetting emblematic Art Brut artists such as André Robillard. An immersive and inclusive tour highlights their shared interest in the history, technology, form and aesthetics, function and symbolism of these flying objects.

Echoing the works of art, the exhibition also showcases singular objects and fascinating collections revolving around the flying object: planes, airships, coins linked to the era of "Ballonmania" at the turn of the 19th century, wind tunnel models, collections from the Musée de l'Air et de l'Espace, archival images... paying tribute to the history of this landmark building of aerostation.

Featured artists

Doug Aitken, Earth Plane, 2015, © Jeff Mclane

Adel Abdessemed (b. 1971), Doug Aitken (b. 1968), Kutluğ Ataman (b. 1961), Renaud Auguste-Dormeuil (b. 1968), Fiona Banner (b. 1966), Giuseppe Barocchi (b. 1971), Alighiero Boetti (1940-1994), Robert Breer (1926-2011), Lee Bul (b. 1964), Mircea Cantor (b. 1977), Ali Cherri (b. 1976), André-Victor Édouard Devambez (1867-1944), Latifa Echakhch (b. 1974), V. R. Farné, Sylvie Fleury (b. 1961), Jean-Louis Florentz (1947-2004), Giovanni Galli (b. 1954), Joana Hadjithomas & Khalil Joreige (b. 1969), Kiluanji Kia Henda (b. 1979), Sophie Jung (b. 1982), Rachel Labastie (b. 1978), Bertrand Lavier (b. 1949), Robert Longo (b. 1953), Vera Lutter(b. 1960), Ibrahim Mahama (b. 1987), Étienne-Jules Marey (1830-1904), Nelly Maurel (b. 1974), Georges Méliès (1861-1938), Jorge Méndez Blake (b. 1974), Gustav Mesmer (1903-1994), Ahmet Öğüt (b. 1981), Panamarenko (1940-2019), Lucien Pelen (b. 1978), Pierre Petit (1902-1990) and Raymonde Petit (1901-1990), Laure Prouvost (b. 1978), Mohammad Hadi Rahnaward (b. 1986), André Robillard (b. 1931), Hiraki Sawa (b. 1977), Shimabuku (b. 1969), Roman Signer (b. 1938), Jean Smilowski (1927-1989), Charles Spencelayh (1865-1958), Léon Spilliaert (1881-1946), Arthur Vanabelle (1922-2014), Joseph Vignes (1920-2007).

The scenography

The scenography of the inaugural exhibition is directed by the NC agency, renowned for its designs for the Galerie Dior, the Musée Carnavalet and Shocking! The Surreal Worlds of Elsa Schiaparelli at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs. The scenography of Dans l'air, les machines volantes plays on the obsessive character of a curiosity cabinet of flying objects, in an invitation to discover the imaginary world of these genius artists.
Agence NC was founded by Nathalie Crinière. Whether permanent or temporary, small or large, heritage or thematic, modest or spectacular, cultural or event-based, the agency's signature can be applied to a wide variety of projects. The agency's activities are spread across major cultural venues in France and abroad. Driven by intuition and curiosity, Agence NC proposes stagings whose ambitious form and content make each project unique.

Lee Bul, Willing To Be Vulnerable - Metalized
Balloon, 2022 - Photo Matthieu Joffres

Around the exhibition

In keeping with its commitment to bringing culture closer to the widest possible audience, Art Explora offers a comprehensive program of mediation and audience engagement at Hangar Y.

A unique audio mediation tour with 12 audio capsules

12 listening stations (6 for adults - 6 for children) distributed throughout the exhibition will enable visitors to discover a work in greater detail. Visitors are invited to flash a QR code placed near a work to access the audio content independently with their personal phones.
The audio capsules will also be available online on the Hangar Y website and the Art Explora Academy platform to prepare or extend the visit.
These audio capsules are an invitation to take the time to observe the works and better understand them. This content will allow the public to ask questions thanks to a quirky, poetic narrative. Nuits Noires supports Art Explora in the production of these audio capsules.

Who hasn't dreamed of flying? The children's course

To create the sound pastilles for children (aged 6 - 12), Art Explora asked pupils from Meudon's Monnet-Debussy (CM1) and Jules Ferry (CE1) schools to share their questions and personal stories about the dream of flying, inspired by 6 works featured in the exhibition. The very young podcaster Auden, 7, from "Podcasts d'Auden", lends his voice in response to the children's reactions, taking them on an adventure of discovery and interaction.

In the footsteps of Elisa Deroche. The adult trail

For the adult trail, Nuits Noires brings to life the figure of Elisa Deroche (1882-1919), French aviatrix and the world's first woman to obtain her pilot's license, to accompany visitors on an imaginary journey inspired by 6 works in the exhibition. Her voice and knowledge of the aeronautical world will illuminate the works with humor and didacticism, through a variety of narrative formats (testimonials, archives...).

Mediation for families

An accompanying booklet for families, produced for the exhibition Dans l'air, les machines volantes at Hangar Y, is available from Art Explora.
This fun and educational booklet, designed by graphic artist Sophie Cure, will be distributed free of charge to children aged 6 to 12. Imagined as a flight sheet, it accompanies young visitors on a journey centred on the discovery of the exhibition.
Activities are proposed in the form of stopovers in front of the works. Games involving investigation, drawing and observation are designed to awaken children's eyes and help them understand the artists' approach. Once the visit is over, the booklet becomes a paper plane, thanks to a folding technique.

Activities for local associations and schools

For the duration of the exhibition, from March 22 to September 10, 2023, Meudon school groups and associations are invited to visit the exhibition.
Every Monday, classes from CP to 5ème are invited to visit the exhibition. Guided by a Hangar Y mediator and accompanied by volunteers Art Explora, children aged between 6 and 12 discover the exhibition as if they were exploring a cabinet of curiosities.
On Wednesday mornings, associations are invited to take part in an active tour of the Hangar Y sculpture park for 6-12 year-olds. Led by a mediator, this open-air visit is based on the story of a new airship which, during an eventful flight over the park, lets some of the passengers it was carrying escape. Following a route through the heart of the sculpture park, children take on the role of explorers and try to identify the lost passengers.

Become partner of the programme

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