Posted on: Sunday, June 5, 2022


The permanent artwork Cloud Cities – Du sol au soleil, was installed in the heart of the Domaine des Etangs.

© Arthur Péquin

Cloud Cities: du sol au soleil evokes the cosmo- and geo-histories of its situation in Massignac, located at the edge of the Rochechouart crater. The sculptural composition is suspended between trees, augmenting an elemental choreography upon its serene landscape. Between the geometries of its constellation, galaxies appear nested into each other, unfolding a mythos of cloud formation, interstellar aggregation and particulate matter—the micro and macro, past and present, woven together. Geodesic and gaseous clouds dialogue together, in a language composed of myriad refractions and a grammar of (past) reverberation, drawing the gaze of its audience towards a bygone temporality.

Despite its idyllic appearance today, the cosmo-geohistory of the Massignac area is a violent one. More than 200 million years ago in an event of incredible shock, the ground erupted in the sudden moment of a meteorite’s impact. An incandescent embrace between bodies of matter has left today only subtle traces of metamorphic rock, the geological memory of a clash between a cosmic fragment and the Earth’s surface. Astrobleme, a Greek word that describes a ‘star wound’, names the resulting geologic formation and symptomatic fingerprint for identifying the cosmic event’s afterlife on Earth. One can imagine that geological strata form pages in the book of Earth’s history, each stone a sentence narrating the trajectory of deep time and epochal effect. The uppermost page our present story rests upon today speaks of other, transformative events that too leave their marks and wounds upon the planet. Against the sixth mass extinction, those wounds grow ever larger at the hands of Capitalocentric activity by the few, directly linked to an ‘ecocidal logic’ that has pushed countless species out of their habitats, displaced Indigenous communities and their guardianship of the Earth, exposed us to new zoonotic diseases, and given rise to the planet’s environmental crises.

One often overlooked—but emblematic—symptom of these compounding processes is made visible to us in the disappearance of clouds. As CO2 and other atmospheric pollutants rise, they form invisible clouds of noxious nature, in turn dispersing the visible tropospheric clouds whose reflectivity helps balance Earth’s planetary temperatures. As a symbol of our terrestrial experience of the weather, clouds contribute to the vitality of our planet and its ability to host life. Mediating our knowledge of and exchanges with the universe, their various morphologies carry with them messages of weather-presents and futures, guiding Earth’s guardians and the fulfillment of our basic needs, shaping the spheres of our social, mental and environmental ecologies.

Built with the material that its star wound had once delivered, the houses of Massignac appear suggestive of a continuum between the terrestrial and the cosmic. Framing this continuity, Cloud Cities: du sol au soleil appears as a rearticulation of our relationship with the Sun and the cosmos, inviting us to turn the page of Earth’s history: instead towards an era of just futures, free from fossil fuels.