Raymond Depardon + Paul Virilio : Native Land - Stop Eject
Raymond Depardon + Paul Virilio
Native Land - Stop Eject
Linda Chenit, November 3, 2008
“Raymond Depardon and I are both concerned by the same question: what is left of the world, of native lands, of the history of the only habitable planet today?” Paul Virilio While the world has reached a critical moment in its history, where the environment conditions what humans do and what they will become, the exhibition Native Land, Stop Eject proposes a reflection on the notions of being rooted and uprooted, as well as related questions of identity. Whereas Raymond Depardon gives a voice to those who wish to live on their land but are threatened with exile, Paul Virilio examines and challenges the very idea of sedentariness in the face of the unprecedented migrations taking place in the contemporary world. The exhibition is, therefore, a confrontation. It is at once a contradictory and complementary dialogue between filmmaker and photographer, Raymond Depardon, and urbanist and philosopher, Paul Virilio. Depardon’s work has often explored native lands, and, particularly, the world of farmers, giving value to speaking and listening. His capacity to combine both the political and the poetic is clear to anyone familiar with his work. Through his writing, Paul Virilio has spent much of his time working on notions of speed, exodus, the disappearance of geographic space, and the pollution of distances.

Terre Natale/Chili_Raymond Depardon
Terre Natale/Chili_Raymond Depardon


Native Land

“Let us listen to these people, be they Chipaya, Yanomami, or Afar. Let us listen to these people and give them a chance to speak, so we can hear them express themselves in their language, with their own way of speaking, their own facial expressions.” Raymond Depardon. This notion of being rooted - the relationship that a population nurtures with its land, its language, and its history - finds its full expression in the monumental projection of a film by Raymond Depardon, made especially for this exhibition. Accompanied by sound engineer, Claudine Nougaret, Depardon traveled to Chile, Ethiopia, Bolivia, France, and Brazil to meet with nomads, farmers, islanders, and indigenous peoples, all of whom were either threatened with extinction or living on the periphery of globalization. They express themselves in their mother tongue languages, anchored in their native soil (“I was born in my language,” says one woman), and voice their anger and pain in view of the numerous threats and fears that plague their lives. “After travelling all over the world to ‘give a voice’ to […] endangered minorities […], I felt the need to confront my own world, one that is suffering from the ‘disease of speed’ denounced by Paul Virilio.”


Terre Natale/Japon_ Raymond Depardon
Terre Natale/Japon_ Raymond Depardon


Raymond Depardon

Raymond Depardon thus goes on to share his first-hand experience of globalization and the world’s shrinking distances in the form of a silent filmed journal. After celebrating and “giving a voice” to those who wish to remain on their land, he travelled to cities around the world from East to West in 14 days -  Washington, Los Angeles, Honolulu, Tokyo, Ho Chi Minh City, Singapore, Cape Town - accompanied solely by his camera.

Stop Eject

“I’m nostalgic for the world’s magnitude, of its immensity.” Paul Virilio

Depardon’s travel journal - a long-distance imaginary dialogue with Paul Virilio -  brings us to the second part of the exhibition Stop Eject, curated by Virilio, and designed by American artists and architects, Diller Scofidio + Renfro, in collaboration with Mark Hansen, Laura Kurgan, and Ben Rubin.

“The nature of being sedentary and nomadic has changed. […] Sedentary people are at home wherever they go. With their cell phones or laptops, [they are] as comfortable in an elevator or on a plane as in a high-speed train. This is the sedentary person. The nomad, on the other hand, is someone who is never at home, anywhere.”


Terre Natale/Brazil_Raymond Depardon
Terre Natale/Brazil_Raymond Depardon


Paul Virilio

Virilio questions one’s capacity to settle somewhere and take root. The acceleration of movement or, using his terms, “the great migratory mobilization,” - it is estimated that roughly 200 million people will be forced to relocate by the year 2050 - challenges the very notion of sedentariness. This exodus, unprecedented in human history, linked to globalization and to climate change, encounters the end of geographical space, or “the disappearance of the world’s vastness,” created by the current transportation and telecommunications revolution.

The current urban exodus replacing the rural exodus of the past, the re-urbanization of the world, as Paul Virilio describes it, are factors that announce the emergence of the “ultracity,” the city of urban exile, the city of departure, similar to the train or bus stations and airports of today, or the spaceports of the future. In this way, Paul Virilio questions the future of “native land” as a notion, reflected in the literal translation of the French exhibition title, Terre Natale, Ailleurs commence ici [Native Land, Elsewhere starts here]. This elsewhere that begins here prefigures global mobilization, and is illustrated through a visual tornado of news clips that are literally choreographed on almost 50 screens.


Terre Natale/Argentine, 2005_ Raymond Depardon
Terre Natale/Argentine, 2005_ Raymond Depardon


The exhibition’s final room is entirely dedicated to cartography, proposing a dynamic visualization of global human migrations and their causes via a circular and immersive projection. The visitor is surrounded by a sphere that circles the room, leaving behind a new imprint of migratory data in the form of animated maps, texts and trajectories with each orbit.

Terre Natale/Paul Virilio and Raymond Depardon, 2000_Jeanloup Sieff
Terre Natale/Paul Virilio and Raymond Depardon, 2000_Jeanloup Sieff


Raymond Depardon

Born in 1942 in Villefranche-sur-Saône, Raymond Depardon renewed the photography and film reporting genres in his work as a filmmaker, photographer and special correspondent. Co-founder of the Gamma agency in 1967, he joined Magnum Photos in 1978. Raymond Depardon’s filmed work, be it documentary or fictional, prolongs the resolve to confront reality already sensed in his photography. His film, Modern Life, the last chapter of his trilogy on the farming world, will be released in France on October 29, 2008.

Paul Virilio

Born in 1932 in Paris, Paul Virilio is a professor at the École Spéciale d’Architecture in Paris, where he was director and president from 1968 to 1998. An urban planner and essayist specialized in strategic questions about new technologies, Paul Virilio has written a number of major works and participated in numerous publications in France and abroad. In 2003, he collaborated with the Fondation Cartier on the exhibition Unknown Quantity.

fondation.cartier.com