Each year, Monumenta invites an internationally renowned artist to conceive a site-specific installation for the great nave of the Grand Palais in Paris. The vast atrium space, which encompasses some 13,500 square meters, has been tackled previously by some of today’s preeminent contemporary artists, including Anselm Kiefer, Richard Serra, Christian Boltanski, and Anish Kapoor.
This year, it played host to a colossal new work from the French artist Daniel Buren. Contrary to Monumenta’s namesake, Buren decided to go for something that was not on a “monumental” scale but rather on a “humanistic” scale. He filled the space with hundreds of colored glass disks, creating a sort of surreal forest that he called Excentrique(s), in situ. The project continues Buren’s tradition of working with color, shape and light, and like many of his former pieces, it’s staggeringly beautiful in its simplicity.
It is in this breathtaking setting that Four Tet, Caribou, and Jamie xx performed back-to-back-to-back DJ sets on June 21, through a creative partnership between The Creators Project and WeLoveArt. To bring Buren’s installation to life for this night of musical revelry, the evening also included orchestrated scenography from Creators 1024 architecture.
Check out our interview with Buren and the members of 1024 architecture in the video above. We also discussed technical details with 1024’s Pier Schneider, who kindly gave us a few preliminary mocks of their concept designs for the scenography.
The Creators Project: How did your collaboration with Daniel Buren take place?
Pier Schneider: Obviously, we closely followed the creative process and the evolution of the project. We were in contact with the architects involved, Patrick Bouchain and Loic Julienne, who explained the project to us in their workshop, and we made several visits during the construction and the implementation of the system. After this, we met Daniel Buren, to whom we made a few suggestions for the light settings.
Were you already familiar with his work?
Yes, we were pretty familiar with his past works. We think that he has a very rich approach to the places and the spaces he works with, which is very interesting for us as architects. We were also familiar with his tools of plastic expression. Actually, we already had the chance to work with him in 2006 for the project METAVILLA at the Biennale of Architecture in Venice. Patrick Bouchain requested us to transform the exhibition pavilion in an inhabited space, and Daniel Buren created a piece for the entrance of the French pavilion. But before this big project, we never made light settings for artistic installations other than ours.
What was your first approach of this gigantic project?
We had the chance to work at the Grand Palais during the Nuit Électro 2011, for which we conceived the global scenography of the project. We had to set up a space and lighting system, so we were already familiar with the scale and the constraints inherent in this iconic and monumental place.
It was therefore necessary to find solutions adapted to both Daniel Buren’s work and the Grand Palais. We also had to be realistic because we didn’t have much time and money. We quickly decided to use the system set up by the artist (20 ALPHA 1500 spots installed in the dome) and to complete it with differents devices at different scales:
- the place: the Grand Palais / 32 Atomic 3000 stroboscopes
- Buren’s work: Excentrique(s) / 30 Sharpy
- and the dancefloor: the very center of Buren’s work / 40 Sunstrip LED bars
Then, we created a series of specific computer programs to control these different light sources in a fun and dynamic way, with joysticks. Finally, we played with all these elements during the evening by composing different sequences and movements of lights based on the rhythm of the music.
In case you missed it, you can find a few pictures of the final result of this collaboration here.
In association with We Love Art.
MONUMENTA 2012 – DANIEL BUREN is an initiative from the Ministère de la Culture et de la Communication, via the Centre National des Arts Plastiques (CNAP) and the Réunion des Musées Nationaux – Grand Palais.
Daniel Buren, « Excentrique(s), travail in situ », 2012. © Daniel Buren, ADAGP, Paris.