Upon entering Palais de Tokyo’s new exhibition, you pass a big control room. There are no people, just black machines and blinking computers. Initially I’m not sure if its part of the exhibition but since Cellar Door is, according to the flyer, about a studio of some sort, it kind of makes sense. Then I enter another world, a scary and spooky one I rather not be a part of.
Loris Gréaud is the first artist under the age of 30 to take full control Paris’ premier museum of modern art. His previous work – exhibited in London, Berlin and New York – are all cross-discipline. For these, Gréaud uses many art mediums and he has a degree in Graphic Design and a career producing electronic music to back it up. He is also skilled in architecture and quantum mechanics. All of this is used when making the bizarre world of Cellar Door a reality. Or is it a reality? It is supposedly a “dreaming factory, a delirious object endorsed with thought and speech that constantly reinvents itself”.
That might be true, but it could possibly also be Gréaud’s horrible vision of a world to come, one where man is no longer in control but mastered by a machine, a studio? Palais de Tokyo was all black and white, lit up by strong and blinking strip lights. The massive amount of electricity pumped through was sometimes the only sound, other rooms were dominated by electronic roars and digital thunderstorms.
Photo by Sarah Nidon
I got the feeling I was in a laboratory, a factory or an interrogation room. Rows of plants grew under bright lights. The next room featured paintings of the installations I just passed, like someone was keeping track on the progress and documenting growth. One room contained a pool with water, tubes and, of course, strong lights. Half of Palais de Tokyo had been made into a dark and creepy forest. Dying trees were lit up by a massive moon, which occasionally turned red. Many of the boxes and installations in Cellar Door had camera eyes and speakers, leaving you with the feeling of being monitored. Every room had signs with music notes and lyrics – Cellar Door’s silent soundtrack.
The biggest room had a bubble made out of metal and wires, like it protected us from something. All of a sudden war broke out. Darkness fell and shoots echoed in the gallery. The cage was full of paintball warriors shooting at each other. Was it to study human behaviour? Was it to pitch us against each other to extinct ourselves? They looked like gladiators fighting for survival.
Walking out, the studio wasn’t empty anymore. Someone or something was sitting there; pressing buttons, monitoring and controlling the human race…