Artists bring French apartments to life
magine an apartment building where instead of living spaces, each apartment is transformed into an art gallery. Instead of boring white-washed walls along the 11-story staircase, they have been brought to life with artists’ visions.
This scene, that was moments ago only in your imagination, is a real project. TRAIT d’union is an initiative run by a group called ‘Art Puissance Art’ where artists come together to create masterpieces in an old apartment building. I had the chance to go visit this one-of-a-kind art gallery located on the outskirts of Strasbourg, in the east of France.
The idea of the TRAIT d’union project is to install a temporary artistic zone in a building that is soon to be demolished. The first attempt in 2012 was so popular that this year another building was chosen to host this unique art gallery.
Putting the idea into action
This year, 16 artists participated. People who lived in the area, as well as local school children were also able to participate in themed workshops and summer animation courses.
The building was open to the public the weekend of September 14 and 15, and I visited on the first evening. The whole building was transformed into one giant art gallery. The stairways were all spray painted, and even the outside of the building was decorated or going to be decorated.
Each artist or group of artists had free reign over one entire apartment, including kitchen, bathroom, living room and bedrooms. Because the artists could do whatever they wanted, the apartments-turned-art-galleries varied greatly and most no longer resembled anything near a living space.
A variation of styles
There were many different styles but I will describe just a few of my favorites.
One artist wrote a play, which was ‘performed’ on the walls of the apartment: little scraps of paper announced and described the acts and scenes. Sets and decorations accompanied each scene to fully immerse the audience in the play.
Another team of artists called their chef d’oeuvre ‘Scotch’, and the principal theme was packing tape.
In their apartment space, all the furniture came to life with tape-covered arms and legs. The bathtub sprang up from its spot nuzzled in the corner of the tiny bathroom and the bed had begun to walk out of the bedroom.
Two chairs in the kitchen were locked in a life and death battle, with the losing chair’s four ‘legs’ spread out on the floor in defeat. It was a very clever and unique idea.
In another apartment were paintings and street art depicting different people; some famous, some unknown.
In one room, a hole in a door became a shouting mouth. Peeking through the mouth, we saw an image of a boy reading and the words: “N’oubliez pas de rêver.”
In another apartment, everything was completely black. The artist had built multiple sculptures and then painted these and the walls with fluorescent colors. Blacklights placed strategically around the apartment made visitors feel like they were at a rave.
It was a very unique experience, and a very good use of space. It is also a good way to promote art and creativity by giving artists control over so much space.
Before the building is demolished the art pieces will be dismantled and placed in a more traditional art gallery to give others a chance to see the work. Two future exhibitions of the pieces will be happening in Strasbourg in the coming months: 12-14 October at Colod’Art and 9-11 November at CSC de la Meinau.
You can find out more information about the project as well as more photos of the works of art on the Projet TRAIT d’union Website.
Have you visited the TRAIT d’union? Do you have any photos or experiences to share? Join the conversation in the comments box below, or on Twitter.All images © Julianna Johnson.