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THE RAFT OF ILLUSIONS

The Raft of illusion, Gérard Rancinan. Photographic installation in La Celle Saint-Cloud Castle's Park, 2013-2014. Curated by Flag-France Foundation. The Raft of illusion, Gérard Rancinan. Photographic installation in La Celle Saint-Cloud Castle’s Park, 2013-2014. Curated by Flag-France Foundation.   © Aurélia Thévenin

In the early 19th century, Géricault evoked slavery through his rendering of a famous shipwreck; even now, humanity is still seeking freedom and the Promised Land. But sometimes the only thing to be found at the end of the journey is illusion.

“To give up their fate to a few planks of disintegrating wood, men and women have to be motivated by a strong, perhaps insane hope. Propelled by a fragile, makeshift sail, confronting the winds, the lethal swell of the waves, wracked by thirst and hunger, their bodies eaten away by the salt, burnt, and dried out, the dying men and women depicted by Géricault are at the mercy of fate. Almost two hundred years later, on the same seas, off the coast of Africa, from the Orient and Asia, on same wretched boats, their descendants challenge the oceans.
They are Afghanis, Iraqis, Sudanese, Koreans … The shipwrecked have become emigrants, exiles, refugees. Their dream is called “The Other End of the World”, even if they have no real conception of what awaits them there. They have climbed over walls and barbed wire fences; dodged the bullets of disillusioned police officers; enriched people smugglers; abandoned friends along the way. They find themselves alone with the burden of their honour, with a debt to pay to their family, sometimes to their whole village. Not yet twenty years old, there hearts are full of alienation, for the illusion begins with them, with a dream of icons – LVMH, Dolce & Gabbana, Dior – of which they wear the replicas in homage to Modernity. These lost youths, new ragged-trousered heroes, are modern adventurers without a country to conquer, but with an immense hope in their hearts. But too often, the discovery of the reality at the end of the journey is more painful than the journey itself.
The raft of illusions: the metaphor of a vessel in which humanity crams together in writhing agony, losing itself in chimeras before asking whether the journey was really worth the effort after all.”

Extract from The Trilogy of the Moderns, Part 1, Metamorphoses by Caroline Gaudriault

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  • Le Radeau des Illusions, Gérard Rancinan. Installation photographique (400 (...)
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