seul six bassins pour toute cette eau

Les Moulins de Paillard is pleased to present the works of Claire Adelfang in our 2016 Spring exposition. Her photographic and video works are exhibited along with more than 300 minutes of film by Andreï Tarkovsky, as well as early 19th century studies in hydraulics, and research from the Schéma d’Aménagement et de Gestion de l’Eau which amasses over twenty documents and maps of local waterways.


Claire Adelfang, Ecluse – Forme Joubert, 2011. Courtesy Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac, Paris et Salzbourg. Photo © JGP

Claire Adelfang’s photographs from her series Maisons / Edifices, along with her video Extraction  come to this exhibition as a final facet in the process we refer to as the Exhaustion Method.

The Exhaustion Method refers both to the manner by which our ideas for this exposition have formed, and to the coming together of multiple collaborators who have offered contacts, documents, ideas, angles, or simply support. The convergence toward an exhibition with the contribution of so many like minds deserves mention. It emerges from an uncanny and shared desire to go hors les murs, not in the sense of to an annex or an additional space, but rather toward a common interest that lies beyond established limits. Here is a pursuit residing within a public domain, something urgent, shared, historic, geographic, from which we might retain a realism rarely articulated, and that, most often, only in fiction.

Hors les murs : a zone, an area, a territory, a nondescript reference perhaps accompanying an imprecise gesture. To calculate the surface of this vaguely defined area, the original method of exhaustion bisects the sides of a superimposed polygon until a dimension can be determined, albeit only in approximation. We apply the method to a river bed in constant flux, overflowing, eroding, rising and then falling. Abysmal. Requiring calculations in continuum: an endless, inconclusive study.

Water, similar to an undefinable zone, is an area without contours, without borders. It has no memory.

Claire Adelfang – Maisons/Edifices

In the photographic series Maisons/Edifices, perhaps the difference between architectural edifice and engineered structure is the resulting human presence, or lack thereof. One construction holds this presence, while the other relinquishes it. The engineered structure, built to retain, support, or suspend, is used for protection or passage. The edifice principally offers shelter. There is an interior/exterior differentiation between these constructs, involving human integration or exclusion.

Through human absence, these photographs provoke a monumental austerity of counteracting forces, banishing us to a distance from which we can only passively observe.

Claire Adelfang was born in 1984 in Paris where she lives and works today. She studied at the Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts in Paris, joining the workshop of Patrick Tosani, and graduated in 2009.

Claire Adelfang, Cascade et Labyrinthe, 2011. Courtesy Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac, Paris et Salzbourg. Photo © JGP

Claire Adelfang, Cascade et Labyrinthe, 2011. Courtesy Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac, Paris et Salzbourg. Photo © JGP

Claire Adelfang was a finalist for the Prix MasterCard 2013, for the Prix Meurice for Contemporary Art in 2012-2013, nominee in 2011 for the European Competition for Photography Goldener Kentaur in Munich, granted the Prix Thaddaeus Ropac in 2010, twice granted the Prix des Amis des Beaux-Arts de Paris (in 2010 and 2009) and in 2009, recipient of le Prix agnès b.

Her works can be found in the collections of the Institut Culturel Bernard Magrez, Bordeaux and the Château de Versailles.

Alexandre-Sébastien Gérard, Le Canal du Loir

And if the Loir were navigable? How developed might this area have become? Imagine the wealth, the commerce, the life on the river. A half-century of growth and activity. Had it ever been, it would still no longer be. Dead as the rail-line Paris – Bordeaux, and we would still have nothing but trucks passing by. The locks that never were built would now be barren edifices. Inspiration for new works by Claire Adelfang, that is certain.


Les Moulins de Paillard, Méthode d’Exhaustion, 2016. Photo © JGP

Between 1822 and 1840, Alexandre-Sébastien Gérard made 40 plans, propositions to use the waterway for transportation. I originally wanted to present them all, but then realized my interest in them was merely as proof that there were studies predating that of the SAGE. I contacted, even interrogated, the IGN, hoping to obtain documents. I was told they did not have the information requested. I knew the information existed after all these years, the carte de l’Etat Major, the studies made by the SAGE. To each his own. Someone will be paid again to repeat the same, already accomplished, task.


Les Moulins de Paillard, Méthode d’Exhaustion, 2016. Photo © JGP

On the table in the same room as Gérard’s work, another unrealized river project is presented, one dreamed up by da Vinci and Machiavelli, in order to change the course of the Arno and cut off Pisa. I had always wondered how, having already invented most of the mechanical components for the industrial revolution, da Vinci’s genius did not spur a new Italian empire. It just so happens that Leonardo da Vinci hated Niccolò Machiavelli, conscious of the official’s political ambitions. The artist coded his work, to protect it and himself. I have no idea how many canals could have been constructed along the Loir, but I can imagine the impact that a project such as da Vinci’s might have had on our river.

Battery Factory

Les Moulins de Paillard, Battery Factory, 2016. Photo © JGP

Les Moulins de Paillard, Battery Factory, 2016. Photo © JGP

High on a hill in Picardie, we could distinguish all the activity in the town below. The ducks on the river, the couples quarreling at the dinner table, for three months I sifted through rubble. I hate archeology. Always referring back to sea level to place our altitude does not alter the sensation that civilization is built on the refuse : leftovers, chicken bones and the broken pots from domestic disputes. We had arrived at the Carolingien post beams. Could we go any farther? The landfill has been a base of construction for centuries.

Along the riverbank you plant your posts, lay your planks and fill the area in with whatever is near. No need to go looking. Resourcefulness has become a strange word to me these days. The need to construct boundaries between land and water is necessary, otherwise we often find ourselves being bailed out. The Venetian Guillotine is ingenious, as are wateringues, canals, locks and dams. The energy of a river’s current is fascinating. When we set out to develop Les Moulins de Paillard, my first thoughts were of the turbines, their energy, the 18th century, the beginning of the Industrial Revolution. Then my thoughts came to the present : the end of French industry. It seemed a good place for contemporary art, almost equal to the abandoned military structures that had interested us in northern Italy. Today you buy a mill, setup a gite, and if you can, you convert the water’s current to electricity. I am critical of such short sighted imagination, as the power produced can hardly furnish the electricity needed to run the machine that had once been powered for industrial use. It is a question of proximity between force and labor. Transferring one current to another seems to favor consumption over production, so it is normal there be loss. Historically, many of the industries found along river banks were not created to use the water as a means of transport or a source of energy, but rather to use the river to discharge filth. Tanneries or dyers are good examples. Papermills fall between the two, but to use natural resources to produce batteries is prodigious.

Les Moulins de Paillard, Battery Factory, 2016. Photo © JGP

Les Moulins de Paillard, Battery Factory, 2016. Photo © JGP

In 1938, the Moulins de Ronsard had somehow anticipated the conversion of industiral sites to charming guest houses. It did not, however, anticipate what to do with its surplus and waste. Traditions and instincts evolve more slowly than ingenuity and often we return to the techniques of our prior resourcefulness: the landfill. Block by coloured block. A periodic table placed to contain the water table, with its encased heavy metals, acids and inutility all packaged before our eyes. No Swimming. No Fishing. No. The response is: that it once was, though it still is, it’s all downstream.


Andreï Tarkovski, Stalker, 1979. Film. Photo © JGP

Andreï Tarkovski, Stalker, 1979. Film. Photo © JGP

In our future, mutants are born paralyzed, wise and telepathic. There is hope: Monkey. Isfara in Uzbekistan was the original location planned for the Zone, but a natural disaster brought the fim crew to an abandoned industrial plant in Estonia. As such, an earthquake, rather than a plummeting comet, gave birth to this legendary Zone. The sole survivor of the shoot, the scientist sent to destroy the Zone. Nikolai Grinko feared that one day someone with ill intentions or ambitions might pass through the Zone’s point of promise : Alexandre Kaïdanovski’s means, his lively hood. Yet, all the others, including Stalker, died painfully afterward. They found themselves tragically poisoned by the environment of the Zone they created. The remnants archiving the past activity of this place, filmed, submerged and only apparent through the flooded water’s lens. “Stalker est ensorcelé!”  Tarkovski Journal, 1979, page 179


Andreï Tarkovski, Solaris, 1972. Film. Photo © JGP

Andreï Tarkovski, Solaris, 1972. Film. Photo © JGP

She has already killed herself, So it can’t be Hari. She has no recognition of herself as she has never seen herself.  She retains nothing, although she seems to die daily. I feel I must be one of Brueghel’s hunters,  returning in the frozen snow empty-handed. Or is it a scene from my childhood ? Why should this painting be here in the orbit of Solaris, millions of miles from Earth, even if it is Snaut’s birthday, just to remind me. Snaut tells me, Hari can only continue to exist in our vicinity of Solaris. This could explain their desire to continue the research here. To preserve their companions, the gimps and dwarfs which they try to hide here at the space station. This explains as well, Hari’s suicidal responses to my absence. She is here simply because I have never forgotten her and as her image before me continues to bring back memories. The more I am reminded the more she is complete. She declared at Snaut’s birthday that she is human. Although, she has a somewhat tedious tendency to repeat her end. It was, after all, my last memory of her. So it can’t be entirely her fault.

Hydro Concept

SAGE, Hydro Concept, 2013. Dossiers et Cartographies. Photo © JGP

SAGE, Hydro Concept, 2013. Dossiers et Cartographies. Photo © JGP

The Hydro-concept. Had it been written in anagrams, it would be as intriguing as it actually is, presented in the elusive voice of methodology, accompanied by anticipation that is scenarios and situations. A study is always made in anticipation. Historically we would know very little of France’s origins if not for the Romans, as the Celts were not keen on recording. Today after centuries of cartography, it is perhaps because of this amassing of archives that we need from time to time to start afresh. Lost, somewhere, irretrievable in piles of records, it is deemed more resourceful to put someone back in the field and compile new evidence. We never inherit total consciousness and so we must decide between moving foreword or backward.

We have been able to decipher from the SAGE’s report in 2013 that 80% of the water in the Loir River is classed at risk of not meeting European standards by this year, 2016. Nitrate, pesticides, phosphorous and emerging substances such as steroids, antibiotics, and hormones are all found in our river. This exposition attempts to make more readily available to the public the mass amounts of documentation.

Our mission in this exposition is to compile the genealogy of these organizations for the benefit of public, and our own, understanding; to note and acquire the reports indicated but not furnished in the methodological material we have obtained; to display historic maps along side IGN topographic/altitude and flood-zone maps of the Valley, depicting areas which may potentially be affected by the destruction of the ouvrages d’art along the riverbanks, riverbanks which are meant today to be biologically farmed in order to reduce further contamination.


Les Moulins de Paillard, Méthode d’Exhaustion, 2016. Photo © JGP

I had a hard time finding the flood maps for le Loir. Interestingly, the IGN tells me there must be a « lack of data », which I of course doubt, as floods happened in 1983, 1999, 2004, and we are still waiting for the flood of the century. I would have liked to get my hands on the same package that Guy was given, but for the Loir. This treasure chest my friend holds, also holds an element which I find of the utmost importance: the mass of documents circulating in the periphery of the study.

I do not know how to explain the feeling. It is indeed physical. There is an element of aire, or Zone, in the meandering around of a silhouette, a profile, a borderline. It is a zone, as it remains eluded to, but not indicated. Indescribable or not described. It lacks the idea of object-ness. There is a void; a lack, or perhaps it is an amorphousness, a shifting of shape.

A brief history of the transformations of environmental organizations:

Before the office of the Minister of the Environment was created in 1971, The Six Bassins were set up. In 1964, it consisted of the Comité de Bassins, the Agence de l’Eau and Préfet Coordonnateur de Bassin. The three structures, in each of the Six Bassins, all responded to the Comité National de l’Eau.

In 1992, the Minister of the Environment created the Direction de l’Eau. The SDAGE was created at the same time to work with the Comité de Bassins in each Bassin. The SAGE was then created to work at a local level under each SDAGE with each Comité de Bassin in each of the Six Bassins.

In 2000, the Européen Union developed DCE – Directive Cadre de l’Eau. In 2006 the Police de l’Eau  and l’ONEMA – Office National de l’Eau et des Milieux Aquatiques  were formed to enforce the national environmental engagements with the DCE.

A half century later, now with 12 Bassins and in 101 departments, I estimate that there are 254 offices related to the original Six Bassins.


The manner which the hydraulic room is laid out is anything but aquatic. Silex stones and maps always make us think of landmass.  I recall the sunlight in this room, or rather the shadows which resembled reflections atop water, from when the Lombard poplars once moved in the wind. The room seems bare, containing only documents and maps. Panning the room, my eye is caught by the image of water filling the doorway, not unlike the shadows that once were.

Claire Adelfang, Extraction, 2010. Vidéo. Courtesy Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac, Paris et Salzbourg. Photo © JGP

Claire Adelfang, Extraction, 2010. Vidéo. Courtesy Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac, Paris et Salzbourg. Photo © JGP

“Par un mouvement rythmé et régulier, la drague surgit, plonge et resurgit”…” Cette vidéo présente une excavation de la tourbe dans des zones d’eau douce et peu profonde. Les dents d’acier de la machine raclent et brassent les fonds subaquatiques afin de faire remonter à la surface de l’eau tourbe et sédiments.” “Une sorte d’organicité se met en place et ces actions deviennent à la fois mécaniques et naturelles. Cette matière, constituée de fragments organiques et relictuels, est également porteuse d’histoire et ce monde microscopique passe alors par différentes étapes de transformation” …. “elle s’animalise.” *

With a smirk, I am happily transported. In slow recollection, that animal becomes another’s ass. The 391 revue 05. Picabia’s ANE suddenly takes on a new sense, as if the sanguine drawing had recently been revealed to be a missing part of either the codex Arundel or Atlanticus.**

James Porter : Curator of the Exhibition

* From Claire Adelfang’s website

**Codex Arundel and Atlanticus : Two parts of Leonardo Da Vinci’s notebooks dealing with mechanics and hydraulics.

Les Moulins de Paillard would like to thank Matthieu Lelièvre associate curator, Thaddaeus Ropac and his Galerie, and Claire Adelfang, the represented artist, for their talents and contributions to this exhibition.

We thank our president Guy de Brantes for lending us Hydro Concept, and for the countless inspirations both the literature and our friend offer us. We thank France Ruzé and Jacques Gérard for the loan of the two works from the Canal du Loir- 8e projet, Marie Castel for lending us Andreï Tarkovski’s Journal 1970-1986, and Mosfilm for placing the works of Andreï Tarkovski in the public domain.