Exposition SAULAVY de Laurent-David Garnier

SAULAVY by Laurent-David Garnier

Past exhibition

Discover the exhibition of Laurent-David Garnier, SAULAVY in the towers of La Rochelle, at the Tour de la Chaîne, in partnership with Mondes nouveaux of the French Ministry of Culture.

  • Accessible during monument opening hours

  • The exhibition is included with admission to the Towers of La Rochelle.

  • General public

  • Book your ticket


In partnership with Mondes nouveaux, the French Ministry of Culture, the Centre des monuments nationaux and the City of La Rochelle, don't miss the SAULAVY exhibition by Laurent-David Garnier, from June 3 to September 3, 2023, in the towers of La Rochelle, the Tour de la Chaîne, and the Chapelle des Dames Blanches.

Following in-depth research into the history and topography of the Charente coastline (Aunis and Saintonge), today prey to the phenomena of urbanization, erosion and hybridization, Laurent-David Garnier is interested in salt and its properties as a living material, in its ability to shape the contours of landscape and memory.

Inside the Tour de la Chaîne, in the heart of the old port of La Rochelle, the artist has created SAULAVY, a unique immersive installation in which salt is exposed in all its states , like this intertidal space between land and sea, where mineral matter is constantly transforming.

SAULAVY is committed to "making landscape", proposing contrasts, movements, accidents and reliefs, playing on the very materiality of salt. Through a multi-disciplinary artistic device combining salt and glass sculptures, olfactory works and video, the artist draws up an imaginary environment of the coastline, countering an often mistaken idyllic vision of the seaside.

Laurent-David Garnier proposes a poetic exodus, elaborated over two floors, which first reveals itself in a striking and recognizable olfactory dimension. Iodine, the scent of memory, acts here as a catalyst, preparing the way for an encounter with a cosmogony of constellations of sea salt crystals captured in solid glass spheres. Installed in the center of the room, this archipelago invites meditation and reflection on the origins of life.

All around, mounds of salt, like mulons, steep the flatness of a pink and green floor, reflecting the colors of the stages in the life and death of the micro-alga Dunaliella salina: green, pink, then orange. A unicellular algae that feeds zooplankton, it offers its green to oysters, its pink to flamingos and its decomposing odor to the wind and the fleur de sel (violet odor) of salt marshes. Above, a floating mirror-screen invites you to pause before continuing your visit to the installation in the suspended room, with a video in which the artist sublimates the phenomenon of salt crystallization, revealing the beauty, permeability and hybridity of terrestrial and marine ecosystems.

A veritable physical and metaphysical plunge into the depths of the coastline, SAULAVY, a blend of "sau", meaning "salt" in the past, and a nod to Marcel Duchamp's feminine alter-ego Rrose Sélavy ("eros is life"), proposes an iconoclastic "mytho-poetic universe", echoing the crisis of life in the extreme fragility of inter-species relations.

À la Chapelle des Dames Blanches

The exhibition continues (or begins) at the Chapelle des Dames Blanches, with six advertising screens resting horizontally on the floor. Like contemporary figurative seascapes evaporating over the course of the exhibition, they submerge blown-glass sculptures (feet, breasts, flowers...), petrified natural glass sponges, elements of a giant fleur de sel hopper sculpture deconstructed in pâte de verre, ouraline and dichroic glass.

Practical information

From June 03 to September 03, 2023

Opening hours Dames Blanches chapel
Open Tuesday to Sunday, 3pm to 7pm
Wednesday and Saturday mornings, 10:30am to 12:30pm
Free admission


Laurent-David Garnier, visual artist and perfumer, is developing a practice combining sculpture, film, photography and olfactory devices. His method of visual research is expressed through sensory displacement. His work explores cycles of deterioration and regeneration of matter and its interstitial transitions in their molecular, societal, political and environmental incarnations. Garnier blurs the boundaries between the organic and the mineral, weaving imaginary and therapeutic cartographies of a utopian ecosystem.

Laurent-David Garnier graduated from the Sandberg Institute Amsterdam in 2015 (MFA), after a career as a senior perfumer in the fragrance industry. His work has been shown in duo and group exhibitions such as Musée du quai Branly (Paris); Musée d'Art Moderne de Paris; Stedelijk Museum (Amsterdam); Kunsthalle Bremerhaven (Germany); De Appel Arts Centre (Amsterdam); Kunstverein (Amsterdam). He has been awarded the Mondes nouveaux program (2021); The Institute for Art & Olfaction Los Angeles (2021); Frac-MÉCA Nouvelle-Aquitaine (2020); Mondriaan Fonds young talent award (2017); Kunstverein, Stedelijk Museum and The Rijksakademie's AFK award outstanding young international artist (2016).



This meeting is an opportunity to explore the work of Laurent-David Garnier, who will be in conversation with Mathilde Walker-Billaud, curator of the SAULAVY exhibition.
Coastline, salt and water are at the heart of the SAULAVY artistic research project. How can we rethink our geographical and imaginary representations of archipelagos and coasts in an era of climate change? The artist invites us to imagine an eco-critical seascape.

Saturday 03 June , 3pm-5pm
Chapelle des Dames Blanches
Free admission


Follow Laurent-David Garnier on an olfactory walk, in dialogue with Mathilde Walker-Billaud, curator of the SAULAVY exhibition. This walk is an opportunity to explore the artist's work while surveying the coast.
How can we rethink our geographical and imaginary representations of archipelagos and coasts in the age of climate change? What "makes a landscape" (François Jullien), and what place do water and odors occupy in it? The artist invites us to imagine an eco-critical seascape.

Saturday August 19, 11am-1pm
La Rochelle
Free access
Booking essential (20 people maximum)
Outdoor clothing and walking shoes recommended. The meeting point in La Rochelle will be communicated to registered participants one week in advance. Bring your own picnic.


Curator: Mathilde Walker-Billaud

Set design (Tour de la Chaîne): Théo Demans

Graphic design: H-Alix Sanyas Mourrier (graphic design) and Pascal Sémur (production)

Work financed by the Mondes nouveaux artistic creation support program implemented by the French Ministry of Culture. Delegated production: Centre des monuments nationaux (CMN)
With the technical and financial support of the City of La Rochelle.