Creativity and Culture

Aqua mater: Serenity and Reflection



The parvis de La Défense will host the artistic installation AQUA MATER, a unique 1000m2 natural bamboo structure exhibiting a unique collection of photographs by the Franco-Brazilian artist Sebastião Salgado on the theme of water, for 6 months.

AQUA MATER combines photography, architecture and music. They invite visitors to share a moment of serenity and reflection on some of the fundamental values of our time and our societies, in particular the respect for life.

Strong, poetic and instantaneous images carry a universal message: that of the beauty and fragility of water, so integrated into our lives that it almost becomes invisible. In order to make it visible again, the AQUA MATER exhibition has been designed to travel from city to city.




An invitation to travel but also to meditate, AQUA MATER offers a sensory and spiritual experience subdued lighting and musical ambience by composer François-Bernard Mâche, and tropical mist immerse visitors in an atmosphere of serenity.

A privileged setting to invite them to question and raise their awareness of the environmental issues of today and tomorrow.

Colombian architect Simón Vélez creates complex structures out of bamboo. He practices an architecture that gets its roots in indigenous materials, taken from nature and little transformed. This unique natural architecture is a tribute to this ancestral concept where the whole community lives in perfect balance with its environment.

Bamboo becomes a real plant steel allowing structures to be built that are just as large, if not larger, than what can be done conventionally with wood or steel.

The choice of the La Défense square is not insignificant, offering an original architectural confrontation between natural architecture and steel construction. A striking contrast that profoundly questions our relationship to the Earth and to Life.




Economic development and growing world population means that agriculture and industry needs more and more water hence, water-intensive energy production is increasing to meet this demand. Climate change is also making water resources more unstable and contributing to pollution.

Water is central in Sebastião Salgado’s work. In the course of his exhaustive search for the first peoples and landscapes, but also through his environmental commitment in his native Brazil, he has been in contact with all its expressions for thirty years, and has experienced all its fragilities.


Sebastião Salgado:

Mythical stories and the poetic imagination often associate water with the cycle of human life. Water is the most precious liquid on Earth, indispensable to our existence.

The source of this exhibition is a reflection on the state of our planet. Global warming has become a threat to humanity and nature.

Trying to represent in images the need, beauty, strength and mysteries of water is a difficult task, at the risk of falling easily into the common place. In this exhibition, water appears in all its forms, its purity and intensity, its abundance and scarcity, captured in its solitude or in various interactions with man, fauna and flora, in a photographic sample of its poetry and indispensability.


Un moment de sérénité et de réflexion



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