Yasmin Smith | Cosmopolis #2 - Rethinking the Human | Centre Pompidou, Paris, 2019 | Seine River Basin


Following her work for the Centre Pompidou’s Cosmopolis #1.5Enlarged Intelligence exhibition in Chengdu, China in 2018, Yasmin Smith has produced a major new ceramic installation, Seine River Basin, for Cosmopolis #2 – Rethinking the Human, curated by Kathryn Weir, at Centre Pompidou, Paris.
Smith was in residence in Paris for three months in the lead up to the exhibition opening conducting research into the hydrological and ecological systems of the River Seine and its tributary and subsidiary - the River Marne and the Canal Saint-Denis (built by Napoléon Bonaparte between 1802 and 1821). She collaborated with local ecology experts, arborists and community organisations involved in vegetation protection, land restoration, environmental assessment and education, to collect wood specimens and make ceramic replicas in Limoges stoneware of various species of wood: Weeping Willow from the Seine and Marne rivers, driftwood from the Seine and various species found along the Saint-Denis Canal along which for two centuries barges have carried commercial goods including iron-rich sand from local quarries.

Smith made four glazes for the resulting sculptures in Seine River Basin from the ashes of the original flora samples: Seine banks, Marne, Seine flotté and St. Denis Canal. The glazes preserve the inorganic components present in the plants (e.g. metal oxides, silica, aluminium) and reveal them visually in aesthetic outcomes. These elements present the memory of the plant, recounting the combined environmental and human history of the soil and the water that nourished it.



Yasmin Smith artist talk at Centre Pompidou, Paris, 07/11/19 (51 mins)


Yasmin Smith interview on Centre Pompidou YouTube channel (7 mins)


e-flux announcement for Cosmopolis #2