Sunset in the Woods

Sunset in the Woods is the new iteration of Sunset, a collaboration between Mike Rijnierse and Ludmila Rodrigues, presented by Hangar Y, in the southwest of Paris. Curated by Aurélie Baron, the exhibition Prendre le Solei (Seize the Sun) examines the ever familiar, and yet sometimes taken for granted central body of our solar system. Hangar Y is located in the Parisian suburb of Meudon, where pioneering aerospace research unfolded in the 19th century. Moreover the landscape design of its gardens date back to the 17th century, hence the hexagonal shape of the pond de Chalais, signed by the very landscape designer of the gardens of Versailles, André Le Nôtre. For the first time in a national park, Sunset in the Woods will bring about a particular relation with nature, radiating for four weeks long, during the darkest days of the year. Sunset in the Woods was on show from Dec 13, 2023 to Jan 14, 2024.

The exhibition

“Erroneously associated with global warming, the Sun is sometimes unvalued and feared. Its heat reminds us of the sublime mystery of its burning consistency. The sun’s burns, its blows, its traces and its effects activate artists’ imaginations, as do its ambivalences, without which life on Earth would not exist: the sun warms but embitters; it illuminates while dazzling… The contradiction inherent in this star is reminiscent of François de La Rochefoucauld’s famous maxim: “Neither the sun nor death can be stared at”. The abstract, vibrant photographs of a whole new generation of photographers, fascinated by the effect of the sun’s rays on sensitive surfaces, “draw” with the star, reviving the experiments of the inventors of photography and cinema. A sensitive exploration of the sun through the eyes of artists. Some artists take a humorous approach to the motif of the sunset, hijacking it as they go, while others gaze in delight at the sublime moment of eternity when the moon “rises” and the sun disappears.” – Hangar Y

Sunset in the Woods, 2023

As an everyday phenomenon, the sunset exerts a timeless fascination. It is one of the most frequently captured subjects, from the emergence of color photography in the 20th century, to the popularization of smartphones. Broadcast and shared on social networks countless times, the sunset is increasingly being experienced through the mediation of screens. Reduced to a digital depiction, it becomes rare to experience the magnitude and splendor of this phenomenon. With Sunset in the Woods, Rodrigues and Rijnierse recreate this natural event to question these contradictions. The sunset, by nature a fleeting image seen from a limited vantage point, acquires a panoramic perspective as a buoyant sculpture on the Bassin de Chalais, with the forest, Forêt de Meudon, as the background. The work suspends time and distorts space. Lit throughout the night and day, and visible from 360 degrees, Sunset in the Woods renews our experience of the setting sun and invites for slowing down.

About Hangar Y

Since the 16th century, the location in the south of Meudon and on the edge of its national forest has been the site of major architectural, aeronautical and artistic innovations. Designed by architect Henri De Dion, Gustave Eiffel’s teacher, Hangar Y came into being in 1879 as the first airship hangar in the world (named after the military parcel “Y” where the building was built). It was one of the cradles of French aeronautics from the late 19th century to the First World War. Hangar Y was restored and reopened as cultural centre for art and science in 2023. Visit: Hangar Y

Landscape designer Christian Fournet and Urban Act have signed the rehabilitation plan for the historic site of the Chalais pond, originally designed by André Le Nôtre in the 17th century. Le Nôtre (1613 – 1700) was the official landscape gardener of King Louis XIV, thus the master builder of the gardens of the Palace of Versailles in 1680. Hangar Y is located within the 3 kilometer-long perspective designed by Le Nôtre within Meudon today’s national park.

See also Sunset in Paris (2023), in Sunset in The Hague (2022) and Sunset in Delft (2021).