On the morning that France accepted a Special Mention for its exhibition “Modernity: Promise or Menace?” at the Venice Biennale, Curator Jean-Louis Cohen spoke to us about the questions raised within, on, and around the walls of the French Pavilion. Standing in front of a model of the farcical Villa Arpel from Jacques Tati’s famous film “Mon Oncle,” Cohen explained that France didn’t just absorb modernity (as Rem Koolhaas proposed) but that France inspired modernity, providing different expectations, promises and, as the title suggests, menaces.
For more images and curatorial texts check out our coverage of the pavilion here.
Architects: Ateliers Jean Nouvel, Valero Gadan Architectes
Location: 123 Rue du Cherche-Midi, 75015 Paris, France
Project Leaders: Project: Gaston TOLILA et Élodie VADEPIED | Competition: Gaston TOLILA
Project Team: Project: Delphine ALTIER, Léa CHARRAT, Yseult DE DIEULEVEULT, Marie-Charlotte PROSPERI | Competition: Chen CHEN, Nathalie DIEBOLD, Damien FARAUT, Samuel LACAILLE, Fabrice LAGARDE, Sophie LAROMIGUIERE, Marie-Charlotte PROSPERI
Area: 18992.0 sqm
Photographs: Christophe Valtin, Patrick H. Muller
Renovated numerous times during its history, Gaumont-Alésia, a Parisian cinema housed in a structure that is over 80 years old, will now be revamped by firm Manuelle Gautrand Architecture. With a design that emphasizes filmography’s presence in modern culture, the Gaumont-Alésia is set to become an inviting cultural hub for the surrounding city, showcasing cinema’s influence on both the interior and exterior.
Both street facades will be composed of glass curtain walls shaded by pleated metal panels. These panels will be perforated by hundreds of LED “pixels” which will create an image across the pleats. Both entrances to the building become animated walls, broadcasting film stills, movie trailers, and advertisements, all meant to entice passersby. The LEDS are spaced fewer and farther apart toward the edges of the building, creating a stippling effect around the border of the images. At the entrances these animated panels will peel upwards, creating a canopy under which patrons can walk.
Inside France’s “Modernity, Promise or Menace?” – Special Mention Winner at the Venice Biennale 2014
This year’s French Pavilion stood out as one of the best pavilions in the Giardini, communicating a clear, engaging thesis and receiving a Special Mention from the jury.
Curator Jean-Louis Cohen poses four questions throughout four galleries, demonstrating the contradictions that fill the story of modernity and architecture in France. The ambivalent responses of architecture to the original promise of modernity is shown through the juxtaposition of a continuous cinematographic montage (playing simultaneously throughout all four galleries) and large-scale objects.
Watch an excerpt from Teri Wehn Damisch’s film and read the curator’s statement after the break. For a virtual tour of the space designed by Paris-based firm Projectiles, follow this link. And make sure to keep an eye out for our video interview with curator Jean-Louis Cohen (coming soon).