Presse(s) Materia prima

———-)|(———-

Apocalyptic art gallery angers French town

Apocalyptic art gallery angers French town

By Angela Doland
ASSOCIATED PRESS

Sunday, December 17, 2006

SAINT-ROMAIN-AU-MONT-D’OR, France — A replica of the World Trade Center ruins is the last thing you’d expect to find in a tranquil corner of provincial France. Yet there it is, along with a sign that reads: « The end of the world is nearing. »

This is the Abode of Chaos — art gallery extraordinaire or the local eyesore, depending on whom you ask. Twisted car carcasses are heaped in the yard, and the water in the swimming pool out back is tinted a murky blood red. Portraits of Osama bin Laden and other terrorists gaze down at passers-by.

Patrick Gardin
ASSOCIATED PRESS
(enlarge photo)

Thierry Ehrmann transformed his home’s garden into a replica of the World Trade Center ruins. Neighbors aren’t fond of his work, and they’ve taken this case to France’s highest court.

MOST POPULAR STORIES

* Development in Hill Country is accelerating
* Metro & State Briefing
* Westlake writes off Pearland for shot at championship
* Teacher’s improper photography charge raises questions
* Statesman Homes

Just a few years ago, the Abode of Chaos was a charming 17th-century residence, at home on a street of well-preserved farmhouses, golden-hued stone walls and pansies in window boxes.

The Abode’s creator, eccentric entrepreneur Thierry Ehrmann, has been locked in a legal battle with the mayor’s office in this town of 1,100 outside Lyon, in central France, and the trial has made its way to France’s highest court.

The case has sparked heated debate, in court, in blogs, on petitions. Is the Abode of Chaos art? And what neighbor, no matter how open-minded, would want to wake up every morning to Ehrmann’s vision of the apocalypse?

« He has the right to call it art, » neighbor Marie-Laure Houelle said. « We have the right not to like it. »

Mayor Pierre Dumont is enraged that Ehrmann imposed his vision on the townspeople, and that he didn’t seek permission to blacken his home’s golden stone walls, cover the house with graffiti and build a mock oil platform on top of it.

Now, hordes of visitors — 80,000 so far this year — appear on the weekends, when the Abode is open for free admission.

« This is a little village that is asking only one thing: to be left in peace, » said Dumont, a soft-spoken man who keeps drawings by local children on the walls of his office.

Ehrmann, though frustrated that the case is dragging on, is delighted that his creation could set a legal precedent. He compares it to the Brancusi affair in the 1920s, when U.S. customs officials refused to let one of sculptor Constantin Brancusi’s abstract designs into the country duty-free — they claimed it was just a metal object, not art. A court eventually ruled that abstract forms could qualify as art, stretching its legal definitions.

« The most important purpose of a work of art is to raise questions, » Ehrmann said in an interview in his office, where he has to climb over his doughnut-shaped desk to reach a swivel chair in the center. « A work of art that raises no questions is not a work of art. »

The legal fight began with a lawsuit by the mayor’s office. In February, Ehrmann was fined and ordered to put the Abode back to its original state. Then a Lyon appeals court ruled in September that the Abode was a form of art and could remain as is, though Ehrmann was ordered to pay $266,000 for failing to get authorization for construction.

Prosecutor Jean-Olivier Viout sent the case to the Court of Cassation, the highest French court. He wants judges to address an overarching question: Do the courts even have the right to define what is art? No date has been set yet for a ruling.

In the meantime, it’s business as usual at the Abode — which is also Ehrmann’s home as well as the headquarters of his holding company, Server Group. The staff works in rooms where red paint trickles down the windows. Employees in headsets type in a room covered by a larger-than-life mural of Dutch right-wing firebrand Pim Fortuyn lying in a pool of blood after his 2002 assassination.

There are also several murals showing the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks — an event that Ehrmann sees as a defining moment of modernity, the wellspring of all current geopolitics, and thus an important subject for art.

Constantly in evolution, the Abode now houses more than 2,500 works, mostly by underground artists but also a few well-established figures, including the Nice, France-based artist Ben Vautier, known for his slogans written white-on-black, such as « Art does not exist. »

Recognition has come from some unexpected quarters: A lawmaker has asked the Culture Ministry to deem the Abode a protected monument. And a menacing steel bunker conceived for the project was even displayed outside the Grand Palais in Paris.

Ehrmann, 44, is a sculptor as well as the founder of Artprice.com, which surveys the global art market. A Freemason who is fascinated by alchemy, he wears only black and has his hair styled in a long, braided rattail.

He is also the 237th richest businessman in France, according to Challenges magazine’s 2006 survey, and he has poured nearly $6 million into the Abode.

Ehrmann sees his struggle as a battle between modernists and traditionalists in a country that he calls « incapable of imagining change. »

©2006 Austin American-Statesman | statesman.com
http://www.statesman.com/life/content/life/stories/other/12/17/17artabode.html

Publicités

décembre 18, 2006 - Posted by | La Revue de Presse

Aucun commentaire pour l’instant.

Laisser un commentaire

Entrez vos coordonnées ci-dessous ou cliquez sur une icône pour vous connecter:

Logo WordPress.com

Vous commentez à l'aide de votre compte WordPress.com. Déconnexion / Changer )

Image Twitter

Vous commentez à l'aide de votre compte Twitter. Déconnexion / Changer )

Photo Facebook

Vous commentez à l'aide de votre compte Facebook. Déconnexion / Changer )

Photo Google+

Vous commentez à l'aide de votre compte Google+. Déconnexion / Changer )

Connexion à %s

%d blogueurs aiment cette page :