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As part of the restoration work on the Palais Garnier, the Paris Opera invites the artist JR to dress the scaffolding covering the monument with two successive installations, during the months of September then November 2023. This project is part of the continuity of the work of the artist who notably installed monumental works taking over the surroundings of the Louvre museum, the Trocadéro esplanade or even the Palazzo Farnese in Rome or the Palazzo Strozzi in Florence, inviting a change of perspective .
The artist offers a visual metamorphosis of the facade of the Palais Garnier, in a performance in two acts. For the first act, in September, JR covered the facade with a monumental installation representing a trompe-l'oeil cave, a strong symbol referring to one of the most frequently used settings in opera librettos, from Handel to Wagner . At the same time as he diverts the motif of scaffolding and introduces a romantically inspired return to nature, the artist evokes the philosophical allegory of Plato's cave, a place of knowledge and understanding of the world. This mysterious passage in the center of the building becomes, for four evenings in September, the medium for screening films linked to the Paris Opera.
A change of scenery takes place in November. The installation on the facade of the building is replaced by a stage curtain representing a more interior view of the cavern and imagined as a collective and participatory work. The cave, the first refuge in History, is also the place of the birth of cave art and self-awareness. The first hands constitute, in a way, the first self-portraits. The public is thus invited to leave their mark on the walls of the Opera cavern.
Through a workshop offered free of charge from September 15 to October 15 at the Galerie du 19M, each and every person will be able to leave their mark, using their hand. Once their imprint has been placed on the fabric, participants will embroider it, guided by the 19M art houses, before immortalizing them in a portrait taken in an Inside Out photographic booth specially designed for the occasion. The photos of the prints will then appear in the monumental work that JR will install in November on the facade of the Palais Garnier.