Vue de l'exposition "Les Maîtres du désordre"
11 Apr 2012 29 Jul 2012

Les Maîtres du désordre

In most cultures, traditions depict opposing forces that compete for power over the universe, organise or disrupt social contracts, structure and deconstruct the individual, in a necessary and endless struggle. All order, including divine order, is fundamentally imperfect, limited and threatened with implosion. The awareness of chaos seems to be shared by all civilisation, as if disruptive forces were necessary to ensure the balance and continuity of the universe.

About the exhibition

The exhibition is designed in three main sections; imperfect order, the mastery of chaos and catharsis and analyses the notion of chaos through different negotiation methods implemented to contain it.

The exhibition examines the figures representing chaos, each with a place in the pantheon of our beliefs and cultures: gods or spirits, from Dionysus to Set-Typhon, and to the technicians, shamans and other intercessors here called the "masters of chaos", who are responsible for the negotiations with the forces of chaos. In this permanent compromise between turbulence and reason, ritual is the favoured form for negotiation with the powers that govern human societies. In parallel with these sacred rituals, festivals, bacchanalia, carnivals or feasts of fools seem to be the other, more profane means of enabling an outburst of transgressive pulsions.

"Masters of Chaos" presents objects, costumes and representations from great anthropological collections but also the works of contemporary artists such as Annette Messager, Jean-Michel Alberola and Thomas Hirschhorn.

  • Curator

    • Jean de Loisy, assisted by Sandra Adam-Couralet
    • Nanette Jacomijn Snoep, Head of the History collections at the musée du quai Branly - Jacques Chirac

    scientific Advisor

    • Bertrand Hell, Professor of Ethnology at the University of Franche-Comté
  • Place:   Galerie Jardin
  • TimeSlots:  
    From Wednesday 11 April 2012 at Sunday 29 July 2012
  • Closed on monday
    Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday:  10:30 am-07:00 pm
    Thursday:  10:30 am-10:00 pm
  • Accessibility:
    • Handicap visuel
    • LSF
    • Handicap mental
    • Handicap moteur
  • Public:   All publics
  • Categorie : Exhibitions
Vue de l'exposition "Les Maîtres du désordre"
00:00 / 00:00
Les Maîtres du désordre - Bande-annonce de l'exposition
Bande-annonce de l'exposition "Les Maîtres du désordre", présentée au musée du quai Branly, du 11 avril au 29 juillet 2012. Pour en savoir plus, rendez-vous sur:
1:58 min

exhibition overview

The exhibition is structured by three main sections: imperfect order, the mastery of chaos and catharsis. The installations by contemporary artists (Thomas Hirschhorn, Anne Charlotte Finel, Annette Messager, Jean-Michel Alberola etc.) which give a form of "legibility" to signs and behaviours that we thought ourselves to be free of, set the stage and lead into each themed room.
the chaos of the world


From the outset the swollen terrestrial globes of Outgrowth, a piece by Thomas Hirschhorn, give an overview of the disturbances of the world.

mastering chaos

Ritual is the favoured mode of communication with the figures of chaos. It is celebrated in order to deal with the powers that preside over human societies. They are an effort to master misfortune or personal, social or ecological instabilities and have the sole aim of achieving social harmony and the maintenance of natural regularity.

In most animist systems agents of misfortune are creatures from another world; an intercessor, a specialist of the supernatural, is needed to mediate between the two extremes. They negotiate with their allies, multifaceted spirits of changing nature, anthropomorphic genies or avatars of gods and prestigious ancestors.

in the words of initiates

At the centre of the exhibition, "contemporary masters of chaos" from different cultures that are still living today, interviewed by Bertrand Hell and other ethnologists, comment on the different themes of the exhibition. The results of careful collection, their lively and powerful spoken accounts are presented in a "Shaman Tree" whose 14 branches each bear a video screen devoted to a particular cultural area: Mexico (Huichols), Morocco (Gnawa), Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Lebanon, Amazon, Siberia etc.


If work and the passing days maintain the world order, the unleashing of the body in the excitement of celebration marks the time when this order is suspended. Such excesses are necessary for the renewal of nature or society; all that exists is thus rejuvenated, and the waning of the sacred in particular, expressed as it is through taboos and atonements, is made bearable again by these purges.

the scenography

The scenography, designed by the Jakob+MacFarlane agency for the occasion of the Masters of Chaos exhibition, outlines a large tubular space subdivided into cells, which present the different artistic themes. This space then becomes a system, into which the visitor will be projected and immersed before being ejected from it at the end of the exhibition. It is a genuine experiment and initiation for the public, along a path of discovery. The scenography emphasises the different sections, sets the rhythm for the visitor's discovery of the objects and creates a dynamic development that leads the visitor and moves them through an open circuit floating outside time and space. This is an initiatory journey that invites the spectator to explore the various themes and to undergo a self-transformation as they progress through the exhibition. This mutation is made possible not only by the conceptual content of the exhibition but also by the scenography.