Imagine … A silvery metal bear gazes at the horizon. He sits majestically on an iceberg that slowly drifts in the waters of Disko Bay, Greenland. His raised front paw gives the impression that he is on the go. The image is superb and symbolic at the same time. What if, one day, only this bear was left? This very real sculpture, Atsunai Kammak, is the first of a slightly crazy project imagined by Pascal Bejeannin through his Art’Situ association : place a sculpture of an animal in real size in the natural environment of his model, to question the impact of man on the planet and on his fellows. She then becomes a witness to the world, like this bear who helplessly witnesses the inexorable melting of ice in the Arctic.
Art to raise awareness, stimulate debate, bring together and transmit. It is all this at the same time that the Jura artist wishes to achieve with this series of expeditions baptized “Goodbye comrade”, from the name – translated into the language of the recipient country – of each of the works brought to travel. “At one point in my life, I thought to myself that sculpting for a gallery was over, tells Pascal Bejeannin, also a painter, whose notoriety went beyond his native Jura to extend to New York or Asia. We regularly talk about what is happening on the ice floes, in the poles, global warming … I wanted to go see for myself. As an artist, I found that my art could convey a message, be a support and a vector of unification. It is figurative, therefore universal, understandable by everyone, whatever their age or country.. ”
Thus was born Atsunai Kammak. The meeting with François Bernard, captain of Atka, made it possible to achieve the Greenlandic adventure. Transported to the bow of the sailboat, the bear was first placed on an iceberg before returning to dry land from where it was able to contemplate, for a year, the imposing Jakobshavn glacier calving a quantity of ice.
To make a bear, to put it in Greenland on an iceberg, it’s nice but it doesn’t have much interest if there is only that!
“The idea is not to make a work of art just to look pretty, but also to go and chat with people there. “ And bring back material, in this case a film, to transmit what he has seen and the words of those he has met.
“As soon as you put the sculpture somewhere, it questions. People come to see. It provokes curiosity and discussions, on global warming, mass tourism, the problem of waste, very present in Greenland … Otherwise, people do not come spontaneously, this is also the case for many ethnic groups, notes Pascal Bejeannin, who has rolled his bump in other adventures around the world. During these discussions, the Greenlanders told us that for them, warming means a simpler life, fishing closer to home for example.“In Oqaatsut, Inuit, Danes and tourists gathered around Atsunaï Kammak, while a single bear in the flesh has not been seen in the area for ten years (they remain further north, where the pack ice still persists).
On board Atka, Cedric Bejeannin, Pascal’s brother, did not miss a bit of the adventure. Director for Mizenboite production, he was responsible for filming the expedition. To film to show beautiful things of course and to keep in mind that “man does not only destroy nature“But filming also to give food for thought. Also an educator for young people in difficulty, Pascal Bejeannin is keen on the educational virtue of his project:”We don’t judge. We take stock of the situation at random. We question specialists and we give feedback. Without hiding what is not beautiful, like these landfills near the village. And we also show that it is changing, that there is a desire to take care of the planet “, he specifies.
If the pandemic thwarted the program, several classes of Jura establishments discovered the film and met its actors. “The pupils, especially the younger ones, watch the film with shining eyes, enthuses the artist. And their questions are always interesting even if they are naive. It is believed that they understand everything but they have access to so much information with the networks today that they find it difficult to sort it out. The goal with the film is that they can get their idea. I tell them: “Think for yourself!”. This will allow you to act for yourself later, to do interesting things and to be effective.“
Skated after his year in high latitudes, the bear has returned to its base camp at theSpace of the polar worlds of Prémanon, still in the Jura. Maghan Mui, a superb silverback gorilla, was to take over and cross Africa from West to East from Gabon. The health crisis has passed through there and deposits in African natural parks are postponed to better days.
Once a logistician for Médecins Sans Frontières in Africa, Pascal Bejeannin wishes to show the continent under another facet. “The sculpture is a pretext to show what is beautiful“, but not only. Beyond the threats to animal species, of which the gorilla is one of the symbols, it is the humanitarian emergency in countries undermined by violence against civilians that has affected him.”In the Art’Situ project, there is this notion of environment but also the notion of humans in the environment and the impact of humans on humans“He insists. For the film of the expedition, he hopes to meet the Congolese Denis Mukwege, Nobel Peace Prize winner for his action in favor of women victims of sexual violence.
And then there is finally Hasta luego compañera, the leatherback turtle, which was to embark on Atka to the Galapagos. Before going to dip her shell in the Pacific, the latest addition to the workshop will be baptized this summer in a Jura lake and then go to the mouth of the Tiber, southwest of Rome. “It is the cradle of modern civilization and we want to see what we did with what our ancestors built explains Pascal Bejeannin. Here again, we are going to interview scientists, fishermen, people who live there and address the problem of microplastics at sea in particular.“
This steel bestiary is just waiting to grow. A huemul (Andean deer) is planned. And an already shaped feline should transform into a lynx and settle in a forest in the Jura. Even if he is well aware that environmental issues are not a priority for everyone, especially for those whose primary concern is to feed themselves, Pascal Bejeannin is confident “Anyone who wants to change something can do it, even someone like me, a simple Jurassian. You have to have the will, stay optimistic and believe in it. So it’s possible ! “
The film “Atsunsaï Kammak” will be presented at the 6th festival ” The adventure meetings »From Lons-le-Saunier (100% online festival this year) from March 18 to 31 (price € 5 for 24 hours).
Pascal Bejeannin exhibits at the Gallery 2023 from Lons-le-Saunier until March 4.