[Photos: Maurine Tric / Adagp, Paris 2023 / Cité internationale des arts]

For her first solo exhibition, Manon Pretto is presenting an installation inspired by the diorama model, unfolding an alternative world behind the glass of the Petite Galerie. The installation embodies a personal science fiction as a subversive agent of reality, shot through with phenomena of mutation and symbiosis, empathetic genealogy and amorous machines. The exhibition is curated by Elora Weill-Engerer, curator and art critic.

In the future, the world is a vast expanse of inhospitable desert. In its pursuit of industrial development, technocracy has eradicated nature and the discovery of any trace of human presence seems doomed to fail. All that remains are the bio-digital hybrids, the Frankensteinian excesses of bygone civilisations: holographic cockroaches, luminous wolves and disarticulated spider crabs. It's not a question of knowing whether this vision of the future is accurate, or even of considering this scene in Manichean terms (is the future happy or unhappy?). What is more interesting is the introspective examination of our dreams and our realities that this diorama fosters: the story is not a straightforward aesthetically and morally pure vision of the future, but rather it is part of a sedimentation of codes and conventions that are in the process of being formed. As for creative genius, it has given way to Artificial Intelligence, which is more open to collective action and collaboration.

One of the fascinating things about science fiction is that, whether it is driven by a struggle for social and climate justice or not, it brings us face to face with the survival of a remnant of ourselves. It's about reversing our point of view to better understand what's happening right in front of us. A common theme in science fiction is the creature’s rebellion against its creator. Manon Pretto gives this reversal an emotional dimension by transforming those things that technological pride has developed for its own productivity into something endowed with sentience. Supposedly obedient machines are replacing humans, not because they are more intelligent, but simply because they have proven to be the only ones who now possess the faculty of imagination: androids dream of electric wolves.

The decrepitude of the environment could be greeted with fatalism if it were not accompanied by the spawning of marvellous creatures: the robotic she-wolf seems to have self-generated into a small being and the cockroaches are less of a pest and more an enchanting swarm. So, this is not a space opera, but a suspended moment in time that describes how cosmic rebirth - machines come back to life after the disappearance of humans - has replaced the usual story of catastrophe. Technophile glamour, devoid of functionality or consumer usefulness, has hybridised with the surrounding space, reviving vaporous tenderness, a shimmering sky and a tree hung with cables in a neo-romantic post-Internet landscape. Everything is reborn in the world, but without organs and driven by the energy of affects: accelerationist progress has been subsumed and digested by love.

[Text: Elora Weill-Engerer]

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