The 104’s defacement – final outcome

For this second project of Defacement, we were asked to create a body of work that documents, interprets or re enacts an instance or a material form of physical erasure in response to a specific Parisian urban scape or social dynamic. I chose the urban cultural center that is the Cent Quatre. Located in the 19th arrondissement of Paris, this industrial building is a public space of infinite art ,culture and innovation.People come here for art exhibitions, art residencies, start-up residencies, but mostly to rehearse performing arts such as theatre or contemporary dance. While it is
today place of free expression and movement, it certainly holds a different history.

In 1874, it was inaugurated, and for 120 years house state funded funeral services. They called it the “mourning factory”, as they handled 150 funerals a day in an enormous industrial establishment whose facilities allowed this amount of activity. It involved creation, storage and transportation of the coffins, the side halls housed ornament stores and workshops (carpentry ,tapestry ,painting and upholstery). In the main halls were all the hearses, carts and horses that carried the bodies, and finally there were also stores, pharmacies and many in-house workers (for more specifies check the research post). I’ve used “Paris Derniers Voyages” by Christian Chevandier for a most of my research on this dark history.

In conclusion, the 104 went through a drastic defacement from past to present. I intend to showcase it through a juxtaposition of stills, films and sound. The stills will show- case the industrial architecture that mimicked the large exhibition halls and train stations of the 19th century. It’s constructed around a cast-iron frame using glass and brick. The building’s aesthetic is our main link from past to present, it is the space where everything is and has been experienced. Those stills will be juxtaposed with sounds of historical recordings and stereo that reflect those you would hear when it was a funeral service in their appropriate locations (check post of table of sounds). The sound will work as an analogy and retracing of the past. Finally we will have the film, which will be footage of a dancer in movement in the space, edited in a very contemporary style, which is a representation of what the defacement of the Cent Quatre has led to today: from detachment and death to life, expression and movement.

 

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