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Bibliothèque Municipale de Lyon Part-Dieu : Mathieu Pernot : The Atlas in Motion


With L’Atlas en mouvement, Mathieu Pernot offers a reflection through images on how to represent migrant populations in their movements. This large-scale project, carried out during more than ten years, consists of photographs as well as a set of documents which lists the knowledge shared by everyone. Botanical and anatomical plates, maps and plans become the many materials with which the migrants encountered by the photographer interact.
Returning to the role of the bearer of knowledge traditionally granted to the Western traveler-explorer, Mathieu Pernot highlights here a transmission of knowledge conveyed by men and women whose departure was not chosen.
Through a universal knowledge, one that crosses the centuries and overcomes borders, it is the unique experiences that the author highlights.
And while History unfolds in a temporal continuum, Mathieu Pernot marks the stopping points that punctuate the journey of individuals, having had to leave their countries and their loved ones. The photographs taken in Mosul or Lesbos, in the Mória camp or even in Calais, of the destroyed cities and ever-increasing number of transitional areas, also highlight the precariousness of migratory conditions. They call for urgent action and to rethink the question of the displaced in a different way.

The Municipal Library of Lyon offers a dialogue between L’Atlas en mouvement and its own collections. The exhibition is organized in such a way as to explore the experience forged by migrants during their travels, moving from a macro view to a more intimate approach. Thus, the representation of the sky or even of nature comes alongside that of the story of life and the tested body.
Echoing the journeys of people in exile, these resonances also allow sidesteps, drawing on the stories of certain dreamlike crossings.
The works and heritage prints presented play on allegory, unfold the motifs present in the photographer’s corpus, show formal or even thematic similarities.
From this fruitful dialogue between two sets under construction emerges, finally, parallels between ways of constructing knowledge, knowledge in motion, which place the origin of those who carry it, transmit it and receive it on an equal level.

Thaïva Ouaki
Exhibition curator


Mathieu Pernot : L’Atlas en Mouvement
Until July 1, 2023
Bibliothèque Municipale de Lyon Part-Dieu
30 Bd Marius Vivier Merle
69003 Lyon, France

L’Atlas en mouvement, co-edition: Mucem/Textuel – bilingual French/English – Hardcover – €39 – 240 images – 352 pages Texts by Patrick Boucheron and Roland Recht and an interview with Jean-François Chougnet.

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