It’s the major event in Paris: the opening of Lafayette Anticipations, the Galeries Lafayette foundation at 9 rue de Plâtre in Le Marais. I was granted an exclusive visit to the impressive old building last autumn, which has been hollowed out and completely renovated by Rem Koolhaas: (http://judithbenhamouhuet.com/report/les-galeries-lafayette-the-very-first-visit-to-the-impressive-foundation-designed-by-rem-koolhaas-in-paris).
I revisited it for a preview accompanied by François Quintin, the artistic director of the venue, as the foundation baptized Lafayette Anticipations opens to the public 10 March.
The place is unprecedented in several respects. Clearly on account of the architecture.
Because the architectural project, the work of Rem Koolhaas’ OMA agency, is itself an imagined object, with 49 possible configurations which enable it to be adapted to the needs of the artists and their accompanying exhibitions through a system of mobile platforms.
Each platform weighs 12 tonnes. “Rem Koolhaas refers to it as a ‘Mutartspace’,” said Guillaume Houzé, the president of the foundation. “A curatorial machine.”
But it’s also unprecedented on account of the very essence of the project: a laboratory designed to help artists in their work, artists of all types, from choreographers to filmmakers not to mention visual artists, of course. The concept is a difficult one to grasp and we must wait to see the forms it will take, but this is what François Quintin says about it:
Guillaume Houzé explained the genesis of the project last October, which found its origins in an idea from Rem Koolhaas:
“I didn’t want a museum which would try to compete with what the Centre Pompidou or the Vuitton Foundation were doing. Our research was done in close collaboration with Rem Koolhaas and his teams. The issue of the artist’s production quickly emerged as a central concern. We needed to imagine a place for making, for producing things”.
In the first basement there are impressive machines for digital milling, woodwork, and screen printing which are already in use for future artistic productions.
François Quintin tells how Lafayette Anticipations produced, for example, a ramp for Camille Henrot’s exhibition last autumn at the Palais de Tokyo, and that they are due to collaborate with the Serpentine Gallery to produce another piece for the artist Lucy McKenzie. The fruit of their production work will therefore not necessarily be displayed in the Lafayette Anticipations space.
In the second basement the French artist Camille Blatrix (né en 1984) was in the process of installing one of her characteristic pieces during my visit, a kind of large industrial style machine, a noisy and mysterious object made from aluminium. It’s beautiful. It’s inspired by minimalism. And it has no purpose.
The guest star of this opening is presenting an exhibition in the form of a radical conceptual stance. The American artist Lutz Bacher (born in 1943) has conceived a highly contemplative piece installed in echoes and in parallel across two floors of the foundation. She filmed a beach at Cap Ferret in South West France: the waves, the wind, the bunkers constructed during the Second World War. Seven short films are projected onto the walls, without any editing from the artist.
The sound of the wind and the waves will be pervading the entire space until 30 April. On the top level of the building she has simply arranged sequins across the floor, giving way to the light of the sky and the rooftops of Paris.
The result is visually arresting in a profoundly beautiful building.
10 young artists will take its place in the summer.