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Simon Fujiwara announces major new project at Centre Pompidou, Paris

February 19, 2014 Attraction No Comments Email Email

This February, Simon Fujiwara will open New Pompidou, a new project at the Centre Pompidou, Paris, as part of the Nouveau Festival and produced by the Fondation d’entreprise Galeries Lafayette.

The project stems from rumours that in the 1980s, the Centre Pompidou’s then director, Pontus Hulten, made plans for an exact replica of the Centre Pompidou to be constructed with the same repeating kit of parts as the original structure. Yet despite its apparent ‘Meccano-like’ ability to be replicated, the Centre Pompidou has not had the success of other museums such as the Louvre or the Guggenheim in franchising to other countries.

In response to this, Fujiwara has spent six weeks in a studio in the building of the Galeries Lafayette Foundation just metres from the Centre Pompidou, realising New Pompidou, his own vision for a twin museum. This will be told through the production of a single architectural fragment, the ‘Gerberette’, a cast replica lifted from the Centre Pompidou’s iconic structure. Although the original structure was produced in Germany and driven into Paris and assembled at night, this new production of a large scale architectural fragment in the city centre highlights the dying opportunities in the city for such production.

The Gerberette will be reproduced in materials that are part biological and part man-made, and will form a stratified timeline of earth extracted from under the basement of the building (the swamp Marais earth), plants and weeds, shredded images, ink, and a dried rose, a replica of a rose Fujiwara stole from the rooftop café on his first visit to the Centre Pompidiou as an architecture student 14 years ago. During it’s display at Centre Pompidou, a team of conservators will continue to tend to the semi-living sculpture, ensuring that it continues to disintegrate and rust in a form of active, reverse conservation. Fujiwara has conceived a sculpture which evokes a fantastical vision for a museum, a lost archaeology that speaks of an unknown civilization, but also a portrait of a patron, an artwork that depicts – although imaginatively – its commissioner.

Rabbit dissection and the felting industry, King Ludwig of Bavaria’s suicide, the gay leather community, Chinese handbags and Givenchy headwear are among the fragments that form the founding story of Fujiwara’s imagined institution that encompasses all of history by ignoring the rules of time, emerging from and returning to the swamp on which the Marais and original museum were built.

The final sculpture will be over 8 metres long and will be carried in a ‘Danse Macabre’ on Friday 14 February from the Galeries Lafayette Foundation to the Centre Pompidou, where it will be installed and on display from Tuesday 18 February. The procession and a storytelling performance will be presented in an intimate performance.

Over this period, Fujiwara has made an accompanying film around the project, narrated by the Centre Pompidou’s current Director, Bernard Blistène. The film will premiere on Monday 10 March at the Galeries Lafayette Foundation, as the closing event of the Nouveau Festival.

The project has been commissioned by the Centre Pompidou and produced by the Galeries Lafayette Foundation as part of Lafayette Anticipation, a series of projects leading up to the opening of the Foundation’s new space, which has housed Fujiwara’s temporary studio. The Foundation will open to the public in the autumn of 2016. The study for the rehabilitation of late 19th century industrial building has been commissioned to OMA.

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