Is one work the supplement of another?

Is one work the supplement of another? Photo © ARUP

A new museum in Lens (north of France) is opening 12.12.12. It is created as a satellite of Paris’s Louvre museum. This is another example of globalisation of culture: an outpost or spin-off from a super brand museum is highlighting the local but within a universal structure. Is this new museum a supplement from the Louvre displacing a perceived lack of local culture? The trailer video says it all: where is Lens? On the other hand we would not be talking about, or going to Lens, if this new museum wasn’t placed here.

The way this new museum is structured, with all the artwork floating in one space, shows how, in a material way, each work might be considered a supplement to the other. An article from the Guardian reminds me that this is supposed to be ‘radical’ … to me it looks like a (re)materialised digital archive, the architecture and  collection are structured like a web page. I can’t wait to see it.

 “In the Louvre in Paris, everything is exhibited in rigid departments, like an encyclopaedia of art,” says Adrien Gardère, responsible for the exhibition design of the Lens outpost. “Here we are bringing sculpture and painting together, from different periods and geographical areas, to create fruitful confrontations.”

The artefacts are arranged in freestanding clusters in the Gallery du Temps The artefacts are arranged in freestanding clusters in the Galerie du Temps.

It is a radical curatorial approach that has not gone without criticism in the French press. Harry Bellet wrote in Le Monde that putting everything in one room risked it looking “like a bookshop where all the books are muddled up”. He might not have realised that this is precisely the attraction: you never know what you might stumble upon next.

Another move that has raised museological eyebrows is the continuation of the clinical palette within the gallery itself, creating a space somewhat reminiscent of an industrial abattoir – six millennia of art history lined up for the slaughter. Yet the material surfaces are always elevated above the utilitarian. The brushed aluminium walls, gently warped, create a ghostly backdrop of reflections, a blurry mingling of people and artwork.

via Louvre-Lens: helping a mining town shed its image | Art and design |
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