Constellations – Metz

Photos : @blvckwyrt and @omniscientbeing


Constellations de Metz (or à Metz… is it even necessary to add Metz to the title?) is a nocturnal art exhibition happening in the city of Metz, in north-eastern France from June to September. I think it’s been going on for a couple of years already, though I shamefully have to admit I noticed it for the first time this year. And even then, it was by pure dumb luck, not like I could have noticed all the billboards and posters every time I went to Metz this spring, nooooo it just happened because I saw a sponsored post by one of the artists on Instagram.

For what it’s worth, the little backstory, I saw the exhibit by Tetro on my feed, which was a light and sound installation in the Basilique Saint Vincent and thought it looked absolutely breathtaking (spoiler: it was). Of course I figured it had to be either somewhere far away, but was quite surprised to find out it was actually right across the border!

So a couple of days and a short 45 minute drive later, we arrived in Metz on a hot midsummer night, full of hope and anticipation, programme in hand, only to find out that probably half of the neighbouring region had the same idea as us. Still, despite the queues, we had a rather nice evening of light and sound.

Submergence by Squidsoup Collective was the first on the list. Located in the Musée de la Cour d’Or, it was a light installation composed of little luminous orbs on a string, hanging in rows from a metal structure. The lights were programmed in sync with a minimalist sound track and lit up in groups or alone, creating pulsating and moving shapes. For those who have ever seen the band Purity Ring perform live, the setup was quite similar to that.

After that we arrived just in time in front of the cathedral to catch the video mapping piece “Metamorphosis”. Impressive, of course, but I ended up dissecting the animation more than anything else.

Frame Perspective by Olivier Ratsi caught my attention a bit better. Set around a courtyard, it featured empty frames that would light up in a soothing red tone, circling around said courtyard. The whole place was very Instagrammable, but at the same time the piece felt very relaxing.

The big thing was obviously to stand between the frames and takes pictures. Of course we had to join in.

Sunken Trump was pretty fun.

While queuing for another exhibit at the Temple Neuf, we found ominous doors. (Well, nothing really ominous about it, but it looked cool.)

While not the one we set out to see, In Vivam Memoriam by Romain Tardy, was also very impressive. The lights and sounds circled around the viewers, constantly evolving, showing new sides to the exhibit. It felt very futuristic, but at the same time, like a futuristic memory of something.

And it has to be said, there’s something awesome about lasers in a church.

We did in fact keep the best for last. As we headed towards the Basilique Saint Vincent, we were actually quite surprised to see that the queue was fairly short. (Just a lucky shot, it was massive when we walked out of the exhibit. 1,3 seconde, named after the time it takes for light to reach the Earth from the Moon, by Tetra+ and Guillaume Marmin, was honestly just EVERYTHING. I’m a complete sucker for light and sound installations and to be honest I think this one beat everything I’d seen until now.

From the moment you walk into the chapel, you’re greeted by a slow, pulsating sound, slowly building up and joined by small light strips illuminating the columns of the basilica, moving towards the viewers.
Little by little, a big hexagon starts lighting up in the chancel, creating primitive shapes, shadow play reminiscent of eclipses and blinding flashes of light. It all comes together in a crescendo of light and sound, the nave lit up in sync with booming organ sounds. 

I know you should never compare exhibits solely on the fact that they’re set in a similar setting, but where In Vivam Memoriam  was in a way very immersive and gave the impression of being part of something or at the very least, being the intended audience. 1,3 seconde in comparison felt more like something happening around you, as if you were witnessing the creating, voyage, life or death of something, witnessing the process, but in an ethereal way. It doesn’t matter if anyone is there to see it. It just happens. An organic process visualised abstractly through technological means.

But I’ve probably gushed enough about this and made myself sound like a ponce in the process, so I’ll stop now.

Plus I was hogging the central aisle. Made for a pretty nice photo though, courtesy of my wife. (@blvckwyrt on Instagram, go check her out, she takes really nice, eerie mooded photos.)

So there we have it. A really positive discovery of the Constellations festival, and definitely one we’ll go see annually from now on. Expect a new post and me praising another exhibit like a pretentious fool next year !



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