Mickaël Vivier
wins the 2015 Itzal Aktiboa Prize

October 05, 2015

Mickaël Vivier, a 32-year old artist from Bayonne, has won the Itzal Aktiboa Prize for Contemporary Art with his installation “Natural history-Natura historia” combining drawings, sculpture and video in a retranscription of the legend of the “Chambre d’Amour”, a cave by the seaside in Angelu (Anglet) on the Basque coast.

The 2,000 euros prize is designed to reward a young artist of below 40 years of age, living and working in the Basque Country. Some 34 artists took part in the competition, organised by Itzal Aktiboa in collaboration with the Basque Cultural Institute.

Mickaël Vivier was born in Bayonne in 1983 and studied at the École Européenne Supérieure de l’Image in Angoulême and the University of Poitiers, before working for four years at the Palais de Tokyo contemporary art centre in Paris. Since 2012, he has been teaching video and cyber art at the École d’Art de l’Agglomération Côte - Basque Adour in Baiona.

Congratulating Michel, the president of the jury and director of the Basque Cultural Institute, Pantxoa Etchegoin, drew attention to the installation’s interesting combination of history and modernism and of organic, mineral and cultural references.

The legend of the Chambre d’Amour, or Chamber of Love, tells the tragic tale of a pair of lovers who set themselves a tryst in a seaside cave, where they were trapped by the rising tide and drowned.

The cave can still be seen today, located behind a car park at the beach known as Les Sables d’Or. Its floor is covered with inscriptions of names and hearts pierced with arrows, but also with empty beer cans, cigarette butts and used condoms. As the artist explains, this contrast between romantic myth and reality is the basis for his installation.

“Its purpose is to question our perception of our environment by drawing attention to the different ways in which we represent it, both in the past and in the present. By means of naturalist drawings, I illustrate the flora and fauna of our surroundings. Using 3D images, I show places that are inaccessible to Man. Through myths, I make sense of the natural phenomena that I witness. All of these are languages that enable us to re-write the world.”

The Nautilus Lanzarote Prize for María Jiménez Moreno

A second prize, the Nautilus Lanzarote Prize consisting of an artist’s residence in Lanzarote in the Canary Islands, was awarded to María Jiménez Moreno, a 38-year old artist from Zizur Nagusia in Navarre, for her series of illustrations entitled Objetuario (Taxonomía ilustrada). Congratulating María, Ana Piñel, the director of Bungalows Nautilus, the hotel complex that awards the prize, congratulated her on the delicacy and originality of her work, inspired by the botanical illustrations produced by explorers and naturalists in the 18th and 19th centuries.

The other artists participating in the exhibition each received a book on Basque sculpture, donated by the municipality of Saint Jean Pied de Port.

Alongside Pantxoa Etchegoin, the other members of the jury were: Juanma Arriaga, director of Galeria Kur, Donostia (Gipuzkoa); Celia Eslava, painter, sculptor and ceramicist; François Loustau, exhibition curator and contemporary art advisor; Javier Manzanos, director of the Centro de Arte Contemporáneo of Uharte, Navarre; Iñaki Olazabal, sculptor; Elke Roloff, Cultural development officer, CPIE Littoral basque.

The exhibition can be visited until Sunday 1 November in the Prison des Evêques, Donibane Garazi (Saint Jean Pied de Port), every day except Tuesday from 11.00 a.m. to 12.30 p.m. and from 2.30 p.m. to 6.30 p.m. Entry is free of charge.

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