Mad About Paris, Much more than a guide
The Gaîté Lyrique used to be temple to operetta in Paris, now it’s a new place dedicated to the digital arts. A contradiction? Far from it. Let’s call it synaesthesia of the past and the future.
Photo: © Philippe Ruault
Photo: © Philippe Ruault
Imagine an Opera house that has been abandoned since the 1980’s. Imagine a place, where you could listen to Offenbach’s operettas; a place, where Diaghilev performed his “Russian Ballet” in costumes designed by Cocteau. Imagine the coquettes in their boxes, the smell of powder, perfume and adultery. Got the picture?
And now change the film, switch the time and follow me into the new Gaîté Lyrique. It’s an amazing experience. From outside, the restored façade might still recall the past of the building, but inside everything has changed, except the beautifully restored foyer: welcome to the future, welcome to our digital existence.
First thing you’ll run in is the “chambre sonore”, a kind of sound space. Walk in and listen to the sound of future: “Whoever looks from outside through an open window, will never see as many things as when you look at a closed one.”
An enigma, a Zen koan? No, it’s Charles Baudelaire. The British artists UVA (United Visual Artists), known for their collaborations and live performances with Massive Attack and U2, are the first artists in residence at the Gaité Lyrique. They have produced a project called “Les Fenêtres” which uses readings of the text of Baudelaire sliced and choreographed into a spiralling pattern of words – it breathes. There are words, there is sound and there is a sophisticated light system responding in real time to the sound. You sit down and listen. This is definitely cutting-edge, but is it art? Well, whenever we ask ourselves questions, we enter the domain of the arts, I guess.
To celebrate the reopening of the house, an exceptional programme has been designed, comprising interactive theatre (Rimini Protokoll with Best Before), concerts and artistic journeys, which sees the British collective UVA take centre stage in a specially commissioned interaction with the public using the building’s unique architecture, mixing images, sound and light.
This gives you some idea as to what the Gaîté Lyrique will be about in the future: over it’s 9500 square meters the house features a huge concert hall, a smaller auditorium, an artist’s studio, several galleries, a gaming area, a media centre and a film and music productions studio, not to mention the two cafés and a shop. In other words: it’s heaven for digital natives and those who want to learn and experiment with new media.
Film-making, animation, theatre, dance, circus, music, visual arts, design, graphic design, motion design, musical film, architecture, computer programming, software art, web, games, fashion: everything is possible.
The programme is promising: several concerts a week, dance, theatre, design, video games, 120 performances there are no limits as long as digital techniques are involved.
“The digital age is about to change our lifestyle and our relationship to knowledge,” says Jérôme Delormas, director of the new house. And he adds: “Theses modifications do have a deep impact on creation and bring about new art forms.”
Here it’s all about an inter-disciplinary approach to all these creative fields, helping to foster connections and relationships between them. What is being shown is really the exploration of a new dimension, being created by these arts and technologies right before our eyes.
It took more than ten years to awake the “tristesse muette”, the “dumb sadness”, as the house used to be called in common parlance. It was high time for a place like this in Paris. And now it’s done. La Gaîté Lyrique is the ultimate place for the digital arts as they only exist a few places in the world.Gaîté Lyrique