Inventory, 264

Alexandre Labasse, General Director of the Pavillon de l’Arsenal

Architecture is constructed with exogenous materials. Although it inherently incorporates products and techniques of its time, which is immortal, it converses with the history of the arts. These exchanges reach beyond the aesthetic of forms or the simple opposition between wall and function and are renewed with the evolution and development of artistic projects.

Today disciplines perhaps call out to each other even more directly as artists question the complex and inclusive city.The aim of this book is to allow readers to discover the diversity of these approaches, thereby offering, through the interpretation of these artworks without purpose or plan, and through ten critical texts, a platform for thinking and research in order to understand contemporary architecture.
The experience follows on from the installation of Monde parfait (Perfect World) by Martine Feipel and Jean Bechameil at the Pavillon de l’Arsenal during the summer of 2014. The intrusion of the monumental sculptural group, an interpretation of three major Île-de-France residential building complexes, the Cité des 4000 by architects Clément Tambuté and Henri Delacroix, Orgues de Flandres by Martin Schultz Van Treeck and the Nuages tower blocks conceived by Émile Aillaud, invited the public to renew their gaze on these architectures which were often misunderstood and disliked. Feipel and Bechameil compared the constructions’ bad reputation with the desire for progress borne by the modernist utopia and the singularity of the designers’ propositions. Faced with dilapidation and the wish for some of the buildings to be demolished, the pair reminded us of our duty to memory and of the high heritage value of these dwellings in the greater history of the twentieth century. For three months, the installation revealed a situation, instigated discussions and even, involuntarily, controversy, but above all gave access not to a fantastical representation of reality, but to reality itself, much more foreign to ordinary awareness.
Artistes et Architectures, Dimensions variables (Artists and Architectures, Variable Dimensions) is as much the sum of a plurality of practices as the product of a partial selection of artworks filtered through architectural concerns. The whole, freed from contingencies of stability, security, standards or programmes, is also exempt from formal or suggestive constructed transcriptions, famous artist-architect collaborations and urban art interventions, to better “show in nature and in spirit, outside of us and within us, things that do not explicitly strike our senses or our consciousness.”1 What results is an inventory with a mobile geometry and blurred boundaries which explores physical and virtual flows, redefines urban periods and public uses, questions globalisation, nature’s place and the collaborative economy, where space and measure are brought into play to rethink architecture not only in its physical substance, but also as social organisation.

1 “What is the aim of art if not to show us, in nature and in the mind, outside of us and within us, things which did not explicitly strike our senses or our consciousness?” Henri Bergson, The Creative Mind: An Introduction to Metaphysics, translated by Mabelle A. Andison
(New York: Philosophical Library, 1946) p. 112.