Walking along robots, listening to what Brian Eno & Jon Hassel had to say about the evolution of arts & music (or their very own private magical moments), experiencing the power of the most imaginative interactive digital art installations or dancing to the craziest electro coming from Istanbul were some of the numerous options we could experience last week at the opening of the latest cultural venue in Paris “La Gaîté Lyrique“.
Originally a theater company, La Gaîté originally established near the Boulevard du Temple in 1759 and eventually became so popular that even the French royalty and the court of Louis XV got very interested in their performances, so much, that the company themselves changed their name to the “Dancers of the King”… even though that wouldn’t last very long as the French revolution (1789) would force them to get back their original and less politically risky name: Théâtre de la Gaîté.
And finally in 1862 withe the enormous Haussmann “update” of the Paris layout and the standardization of that well known beautiful architecture (which still rules over the Parisian Panorama unfortunately) the company relocated to where the theatre is today: 3 bis rue Papin.
Since then, the venue has welcomed & hosted some turbulent, exciting and always decisive events. Victor Hugo celebrated his 17th birthday here, all the French bourgeoisie used to frequent the theatre during the Russian ballet visits in the 1920s, then it was looted during the German occupation, and after that? Well, it was occupied ten times and reclaimed twice as much. A real piece of desire! Even in the 70s the venue hosted a circus school where elephants would live in the attic converted stables.
But let’s go back to its current & more exciting (well, this is arguable you may think) usage… the showcasing of our digital culture.
The current concept of “local, global, local” digital public museum begun a decade ago, and the reconstruction & adaptation of the building was finished last year. Now, la Gaîté lyrique has opened up a very necessary space to explore all forms of digital culture: film-making, animation, theatre, dance, circus, music, visual arts, design, graphic design, motion design, musical film, architecture, computer programming, software art, web, games, fashion, (breathe!) …. and many more.
One of those venues that will surely become a new MUST visit for any of you when coming to Paris (or if already living) because their programs & events are so diverse and eclectic that they’ll very probably satisfy the most curious brains of yours… if you’re into digital things of course. Don’t come here expecting many oil on canvas compositions, that’s just next door.
The opening we must admit was quite something, tickets flew real fast and we were lucky enough to get in last Saturday and experience first hand the new “digi” center for new generations. It certainly doesn’t have the resources of centre Pompidou (nor the budget) but being very close by it offers a great complement and an alternative to the overcrowded contemporary pole.
Redefining or establishing what are the new digital practices is a hard task the Gaîté lyrique have set themselves as their primary objective, and with a long list of performances, shows, productions for children, for elders, lectures, cycles and so on we’re quite convinced they’ll be quite successful (and we’ll be following and reporting regularly to see if that really happens).
The opening took place in Paris from the 2nd to 7th of March. In partnership with United Visual Artists (a collective based in London since 2003) La Gaîté presented a fairly interesting performance related to music and sound that attacked our senses. A camera that scanned our faces, then recreating digital footprints of ourselves, giving the sense of traveling while being trapped… our question is.. how will they be using that information?
And then we managed to see “I could never be a dancer”. A live performance about the principles of new technologies to mirror the actual process that tries and tends to humanize them. A performance that mixed cinema techniques and literature of anticipation.
But that was certainly not all, for a week everyone was able to experience for free what the future of our culture and the future of Paris has to offer. And now the agenda has been set, up to you to explore it each month.