This exhibition at Sorbonne University, created by a multidisciplinary group of students, will display 118 poems in the shape of the Periodic Table, all written by different people. The only common source of inspiration: the links between Mendeleev’s Table and the poem “Correspondances” by Charles Baudelaire. In this text, the famous french author compares the totality of the Universe as a “forest of symbols” in wich perfumes, light and sounds corresponds. Nature and Culture are melt together in a both horizontal and vertical temple:

“Nature is a temple in which living pillars
Sometimes give voice to confused words;
Man passes there through forests of symbols […]”

The periodic table is like a “forest of symbols”, that helps Mankind to understand the hidden architecture of the Universe : it is the alphabet of Matter, the mute language of the atoms, and as the temples of ancient times, it has become a monument in our culture.
The poem is furthemore linked to chemistry because it evoques fragances, wich in reality corresponds to molecules:

“There are perfumes as cool as the flesh of children,
Sweet as oboes, green as meadows
And others are corrupt, and rich, triumphant,
With power to expand into infinity,
Like amber and incense, musk, benzoin,
That sing the ecstasy of the soul and senses”

Before the opening of the exhibition “Architects of Nature”, our team is going to work with historians to investigate if Mendeleev met Baudelaire when he came in Paris in 1861. If this is proven to be true, it could be a great discovery! Discover our work with this link.

About Benjamin Rigaud

L'univers-cité, or "universe-city" is a collective of 118 artists-scientists based at the Sorbonne in Paris. Created by Benjamin Rigaud, the collective is included in A.D.S., a non profit organisation for student creativity. At l'univers-cité, we explore the links between disciplines throught poetry, and we have a VERY BIG project celebrating the #IYPT2019 : a gigantic Periodic Table for our campus ! Discover it by the link below :