Noah’s Ark according to Claude Lafortune: fragile species

At the end of the exhibition Noah’s Ark according to Claude Lafortune, visitors to the Museum of Nature and Science are invited to put a wish on the paper star for the next year. Through the constellations coming down from the ceiling, an unknown child wrote: “Let the animals no longer be on the verge of extinction”.
For Michelle Bélanger, Director General and Curator of the Museum of Nature and Science, there is the relevance of receiving this “contemplative” and multidisciplinary exhibition, where the story of a myth becomes the spark plug of a extensive reflection.

“It is not the religious side that is put forward, but rather the sculptures themselves and the message of hope that they can convey. In particular, we want visitors to wonder about the issue of climate change, ”explains the one who wants everyone to imagine the shape that their arch would take. In short, what everyone can do to remedy the loss of biodiversity.

The exhibition, which revolves around 25 paper works by the well-known Claude Lafortune, the artist behind the popular Radio-Canada program L’Évangile en papier (1975-1976), begins with a historical study of the millennial account of Noah and his famous boat. Among other things, we learn that this myth with multiple variations is common to several cultures and religions, and that it is rather perilous to attach a precise date to the famous flood.

According to Mrs. Bélanger, the visitors are particularly impressed by the quality of the execution of the sculptures, which were however shaped without plans beforehand. “When we take L’Évangile en papier as a reference, we realize that the works in the exhibition are much more detailed than in the program. Their greatness also surprises a lot, ”she notes.

A sign indicates, moreover, that approximately three weeks per animal and four weeks per character were devoted to furnishing the boarding quay, on which Noah, his wife and their three sons await, as well as various species of animals. Lions, giraffes and monkeys appear in pairs, for example, while other solitary species have been created, such as a peacock, a puffin and a Pyrenean shepherd.

“People’s favorite is definitely the hummingbird,” notes Ms. Bélanger. Difficult indeed not to dwell on the different birds, whose paper feathers, highly worked, surprise the eye.

In a video from La Fabrique culturelle, broadcast on the spot, Mr. Lafortune explains that, for example, he used a trash bag, crumpled paper and newspapers to make the last piece: a deer. The octogenarian also argues that it could “probably” be his last exposure.

Noah’s Ark according to Claude Lafortune was produced by the Nicolet Museum of World Religions, which decided to make it a traveling exhibition. “We are very happy that this exhibition can travel across Quebec”, shares Ms. Bélanger, who saw the opportunity to draw a parallel between these paper animals and the collection of naturalized specimens currently presented in Alteranima at the museum .

“Our public is asking us for exhibitions that are a little out of the ordinary during the holidays and the summer holidays. We want to be a family place that allows us to discover new things, ”says Bélanger to explain this choice of programming, as scientific as poetic.

A decision that seems so far winning, since Friday, 220 people set foot on the floor of the Eddie Savoie salon, where the exhibition is installed. If the older ones take the opportunity to remember the period when Claude Lafortune occupied their screen, the smaller ones find their account in the activity “seek and find” which accompanies the sculptures.

A workshop entitled Animals of Noah’s Ark will be held on January 4. Visitors will be invited to slip into the shoes of Mr. Lafortune by making their own paper animal.

Do you want to go?

Noah’s Ark according to Claude Lafortune
Sherbrooke Museum of Nature and Science
December 21, 2019 to January 12, 2020
Adult: $ 13
Child 4-17 years: $ 9

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