Monumenta, now in its sixth edition, has become one of the most important annual contemporary art happenings in Paris. This year the event, opened on Thursday, features Excentrique(s), an installation by Daniel Buren that fills the 14,000 square-meter Grand Palais through June 21.
The French artist listed three main challenges while preparing the work: the space, the light and the spectacular beauty of the monument’s architecture.
You can’t put yourself into competition with a monument like the Grand Palais, you can only try to sublime it and play with its features, Mr. Buren said.
The installation consists of tangent colored circles raised about six feet above the ground by a forest of black and white pillars. Imitating the effect of stained‐glass windows and mimicking the shape of the Grand Palais’s rotunda. The piece, with 400 steel circles filled with colored plastic, aims to capture the light of a churchs nave by coloring it. Strolling around this mystical playground, a visitor is immediately overwhelmed by projections of red, blue, green and yellow. Mr. Buren, who decided not to use the main entry of the Grand Palais because he found it too academic, had a long white corridor installed through the north entrance, which enables the visitor to discover the installation progressively rather than giving it away all at once.
If I hadnt gotten the authorization to change the entrance, I probably would have refused the invitation to do the show, he said.
Although his work obviously focuses on manipulating the light in the building, it also aims to stay completely open to the visitors’ interpretation, depending on their trajectory inside the multicolored maze, the position of the sun and the time of the day.
Consider it as a machine I have put in motion without knowing its outcomes, he said.