Hundreds of sculpted masks, or “ mascarons ” (from the Italian “ mascherone ”), can be seen on ...
A blog such as Invisible Bordeaux is, in essence, a linear compilation of content with articles ...
A blog such as Invisible Bordeaux is, in essence, a linear compilation of content with articles stacked up in chronological order, with the most recent items given priority homepage treatment.
Bordeaux’s wartime history remains an opaque affair. Throughout that dark period, the city was ...
|Outside the Palais Berlitz event in Paris,|
photo source: www.cndp.fr
To gain widespread public support among France’s non-Jewish population, the regime resorted to various propaganda drives that stigmatised Jews. These initiatives included the Le Juif et la France exhibition which was first held at Palais Berlitz on the boulevards in Paris from September 5th 1941 to January 15th 1942. The exhibition was organised by IEQJ, the Institut d’Études des Questions Juives, a body which was financed by the German embassy in France and overseen by Nazi security and propaganda services.
The exhibition sought to highlight the stronghold that Jews had secured within institutions and economic sectors throughout France. In addition, to help citizens become more effective in recognising the “enemy”, the exhibition provided a beginners’ guide to the physical features of Jews. It also went beyond these stereotypes to point fingers at emblematic individuals who were showcased on large panels, such as the furniture seller Wolff Lévitan, radio journalist Jean-Michel Grunebaum, playwright Henri Bernstein and the politician Léon Blum.
|Some of the displays from the Paris leg of the exhibition, picture sources: |
aufildelhistoire.u.a.f.unblog.fr, parisenimages.fr and voir-et-transmettre.fr
Significantly, the Bordeaux event was held in a wing within the grounds of the city hall, where the Musée des Beaux-Arts can now be found. The building had already served a similar purpose in May 1941, when it hosted an exhibition entitled “L’Allemagne de nos jours”, aimed at raising awareness about German culture and industry, its centerpiece being a bust of Adolf Hitler surrounded by a colourful hydrangea bed.
The Bordeaux leg of the Juif et la France exhibition opened on March 28th 1942 and ran for six weeks until May 11th (the Nancy event later stretched from July 4th to August 2nd). Again, it is difficult to establish reliable attendance figures but it is thought that over 60,000 viewed the exhibition in Bordeaux, including children from all local schools. The IEQJ's short-lived official publication, Le Cahier Jaune, later saluted the figure, equating it to 20% of the 300,000 living in and around Bordeaux at the time.
Along with the static exhibits, a makeshift cinema was set up under canvas in the gardens of the hôtel de ville, showing films including “Le Péril Juif” and “Les Corrupteurs”, and no less than three conferences were held each week.
|The "cinéma permanent" and the same scene today.|
|The entrance to the exhibition (as also pictured in the lead photo at the top of the article), and the view today.|
|A closer look at the disturbing illustration that promoted |
the exhibition. Source: http://paril.crdp.ac-caen.fr
In this instance, as so often when relating these wartime tales, what went on seems to be the unbelievable end-product of some unrecognisable parallel universe. And yet the setting is so familiar and so recent that it makes for chillingly painful reading. Then again, perhaps we need more stark reminders of these past events right now…
> Photos from the Bordeaux event extracted from report in IEQJ publication Le Cahier Jaune, archived by the Centre de documentation juive contemporaine (report featured in Adrien Marquet, les dérives d'une ambition).
> Ce dossier est également disponible en français.
Invisible Bordeaux recently came across one of the city’s most unusual – and, it turns out, c...
The exhibit is the work of Russian artists Ilya and Emilia Kabakov and was unveiled in October 2009: it consists of a two-storey house comprising a number of rooms, each of which has been designed and filled with scenery and accessories to look like it is inhabited by an imaginary character. Visitors can tour the exterior of the house, peek in through the windows (including the upstairs room which can be reached via an outdoor staircase), and take in the various still-life scenes, with poetically-worded panels about the associated characters there to provide additional context and pointers.
|This is la Maison aux personnages, although at first glance there is nothing to suggest the house is a permanent artistic installation. Pellegrin hospital can be seen to the left.|
All of which leads us on to one of the most surprising aspects of the installation: remarkably, the 148-square-metre air-conditioned house and its garden were purpose-built to become this artistic exhibit. Working to the designs drawn up by Ilya and Emilia Kabakov themselves (some of the original sketches can be viewed here) and inspired by the characteristics of Bordeaux’s échoppes and townhouses, the building was conceived by the architects Samira Aït-Mehdi and Sylvain Latizeau, and delivered by the contractors DV Construction.
Given the expense involved (somewhere in the region of 500 to 600,000 euros), the project has proved controversial. The politician Emmanuelle Ajon, a Bordeaux city councillor and Gironde department vice-president, condemned the venture by writing that it was “indecent to let homeless people look in on what it is like to have a roof, and to spend 560,000 euros on a house which will only ever be exhibited and never occupied”.
Which, appropriately enough, is where Invisible Bordeaux steps in: I braved the elements to plot my way through the traffic across to the house, in order to report back on what there is to see through the windows. So here goes: I think the most interesting rooms to view were those entitled “En barque sous les voiles” (which includes a pretty wooden sailboat), “La soif d’inventions” (which appears to be a mad professor’s workshop, complete with illuminated fairy lights and a lot of work in progress) and “Ne jamais rien jeter” (with its collection of collections, i.e. hundreds of labelled items, along with a number of suspended objects and little cards with open questions to the viewer written on them). Of the others, “Le paradis sous le plafond”, in the upstairs room, featured little more than an armchair and a ladder to nowhere – it felt a bit overly minimalist and underwhelming. Most of the remaining rooms were more conventional living and sleeping quarters, and looking inside did feel a little voyeuristic, if you can picture a voyeur also standing there scratching his head about the meaning of it all.
|Four of the rooms: "En barque sous les voiles", "La soif d'inventions", "Ne jamais rien jeter" and "Le paradis sous le plafond".|
picture source: artnet.com
The couple have worked together ever since and have earned distinctions including France’s Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres in 1995 and Austria’s Oskar Kokoschka Preis in 2002. Their work, which “fuses elements of the everyday with those of the conceptual” (according to artnet.com), has been exhibited in venues including New York’s Museum of Modern Art, the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam and the State Hermitage Museum in St Petersburg. The Bordeaux installation is just one of many public commissions delivered throughout Europe and elsewhere.
> Ce dossier est également disponible en français !
We’re in Mérignac, between the Pin Galant concert hall and its associated tram stop and, yes, t...
This unusual public artwork is entitled, aptly enough, "Pantalon de jogging et mocassins à pampilles". It was officially unveiled on July 12th 2014 and was produced by the artistic duo Daniel Dewar and Grégory Gicquel. It was commissioned as part of a programme to install art pieces at points alongside Bordeaux metropole’s tramway network, within the wider framework of an initiative coordinated by France’s culture ministry and the Aquitaine region’s departments for artistic creation and cultural affairs. So there.
The piece is a good four metres tall (yes, the artists opted for a grand 4:1 scale). Working our way up from the bottom, at its base is a 90-centimetre plinth made out of black granite from Lanhélin in Brittany. The tasteful leather-like moccasins and their tassels are made out of polished ochre-red marble, specifically Caunes-Minervois marble from the Languedoc region. They are topped off by the elegant tracksuit bottoms, complete with practical tie-up waist belt and handy back pocket, carved from a block of grey granite from the Côtes d’Armor area of Brittany.
|Details from the piece. You have to admit that both the loafers and trousers do look extremely comfortable and practical.|
|Grégory Gicquel and Daniel Dewar, |
picture source: www.actuart.org
There is definitely a touch of tongue-in-cheek humour in Dewar & Gicquel’s portrayal of the functional tracksuit bottoms and moccasins, both of which are items of clothing that manage to be seemingly timeless while simultaneously drifting in and out of fashion. The morning I was there was the day that Cuban leader Fidel Castro died, so viewing a gigantic pair of tracksuit trousers seemed to be a highly appropriate way to spend some time. Whatever, the piece is an oddball and surprising addition to the Mérignac landscape, so look out for it the next time you’re in the area!
|The trouser-shaped sculpture is clearly visible from line A trams.|
It's been another interesting twelve months feeding the beast that is Invisible Bordeaux, wit...