Interview with Xavier Veilhan, artist

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7 January 2014

Interview with Xavier Veilhan, artist

On the occasion of the 10th anniversary of Tara Expeditions, artists who embarked aboard Tara during scientific expeditions are currently exhibiting their work at the agnès b. headquarters in Paris, from December 16th 2013 to January 10th 2014. Open Monday to Saturday, 10am to 7pm,  agnès b., 17 rue Dieu, 75010 Paris, metro République. Free admission.

Xavier Veilhan is a French artist who lives and works in Paris. In February 2006, with Pierre Huyghe and 15 other people, he boarded Tara for a one-month trip to Antarctica. In the current show, he is exhibiting his book “Voyage to Antarctica.” (Courtesy of the artist)

Tell us about this book
I was invited on this fantastic journey by Pierre Huyghe who was shooting his film “A Journey that was not.” But for me, the trip really did take place. The landscapes we encountered were fantastic, at the limit of reality. Since I did not want to encroach on the universe rendered in Pierre’s film, I chose a  book format to describe my own experience in Antarctica. In this particular universe, reduced to a few elements, and often from a single point of view (the boat’s), my photographic experience led me to focus on the issue of framing.

How did you feel about being an artist aboard Tara?
Unlike the other artists aboard, I was as motivated by the journey itself, as by its objective. I’m a sailor and navigator. Voyaging on this boat was already a goal in itself. The experience of the great South Seas has nothing in common with what I already knew of navigation: the sea is much bigger down there, as one can say of the skies in the American far west. Tara is perfectly suited for this kind of mission. At no time while on board did I feel in danger. However, as soon as one leaves the boat, there is absolutely no margin for error.  We had to be well-accompanied, and well-prepared. For this, I totally trusted Grant Redvers. As I’ve said many times, Antarctica is like a half-way step between the Earth and the Moon.

What do you think of the exhibit, “Tara’s 10 years: visions of 20 artists”?
I’m glad this show gives me the opportunity to relive those exceptional moments. I went to meet a new continent; I also met some new people.