Labeled Biennale internationale de Design Saint-Etienne 2022, La “Nef des Fous” or the madness of transport at the Frac Grand Large questions the object in its very broad relationship to travel, through a selection of design objects from the Museum Design Gent, films and works of artists. An exhibition whose scenography fleshes out a scenario based on the eponymous painting by the Dutch painter Jérôme Bosch, to be discovered until December 31, 2022.
Starting from the postulate of the human “madness” of post-war transport, the event begins, on the 5th floor of the building, through an intelligent presentation of the object in all its types of “transportation” – affective, geographic, monetary, etc. -, with the film Provenance by the American visual artist Amie Siegel, evoking the chair ” Chandīgarh” by Le Corbusier. Composed of a succession of long silent tracking shots giving the audience the impression of moving, the film loaned by the Tate Modern highlights the plural meaning of this iconic object according to its contexts. A stylish piece in a chic Western interior or functional office furniture, an object packaged in warehouses or loaded onto a departing freighter, the chair returns to Chandigarh, its original city. The reverse of the screen evokes an auction which places the design object in its economic dimension.
Transport in all its states
On the third level, a hundred pieces from the collection of the Design Museum Gent from the 1950s to the present dialogue with some of the institution, other films and works by artists. Taking its title from the eponymous painting by Jérôme Bosch, the reproduction of which is visible from the entrance, but also from the text of the German humanist and poet Sebastian Brandt, the exhibition, imagined by the independent curator and author Mathilde Sauzet, takes us to the heart of a “miraculous fishing fiction on the seventh continent”. A sort of material metaphor for this astonishing 16th century boat, with a mysterious destiny, it comes in three parts. The first, Vanity cases, celebrates our travel objects, past and present, in what is most intimate to man but also universal: a silver condom holder, a flask of alcohol, but also the first cabin suitcase, the iconic plane meal trays, one flanked by “Tupperware”, essential companions for our outings, whose manufacturing plant is located near Gent…
The second, Kitchen Tour, plunges us into domestic homes where it indirectly questions the place of women after the Second World War. Coffee pots, teapots of all ages, a splendid tea and coffee service by Zaha Hadid from 2003, alongside an old radio alarm clock, a modest toaster or even Ship Shape , small colored containers in thermoplastic resin in the shape of a boat from Alessi . Finally, Self-Transports raises the emotional relationship that we weave with them. A tie by Nathalie Du Pasquier is placed on the back of the chaise longue. Prosim sedni ” by Czech architect designer Bořek Šipek for Driade from the 1980s, close to “ Feltri”, throne chair by Gaetano Pesce and the “tavolo mobile infinito” created by Studio Alchimia (Alessandro Mendini), as witnesses, among many others, to a thousand fantasized personal stories.
Adequate scenography to the subject
This material “inventory” embodying the notion of displacement in its plural relationship to the human, would not stand out if, beyond its narration linked to the meanders of medieval art and its relations with artists’ films , it was not appropriately staged by designer Julien Carretero. Indeed, he thought of “La Nef des Fous” as “a transit zone, a sorting center in which objects and works meet for a period of time before being dispersed again”. By knowingly choosing to embark in transitory freight zones, thanks to the containers (cardboard boxes, pallets, etc.) that were used to transport the pieces and to the “ready-made devices” found in the Frac’s reserves, its durable scenography does not magnify in no way the status of objects of large or more modest signatures, rightly supports the point. Non-scientific, based on the semiotics and polysemy of objects, the exhibition which delivers these, as they are, to the appreciation of the public, questions the failings and the future of our society of opulence. In the mood of time.