Unauthorized exhibition in the world’s biggest museum

With over 30,000 visitors each day, Paris is home to the most famous museum in the world. But behind this icon of the art industry lies a more complex reality for Parisian artists.

Beyond the internationally renowned historic city of Paris, there are more than 10,000 living and contemporary artists, as well as hundreds of artistic spaces with popular, hybrid, and innovative initiatives in Paris that do not enjoy the same visibility. 59Rivoli is a good example; an independent and free alternative art center that disrupts the norms of art by providing access to new ways of experiencing art, directly in the studio, in intimacy with the artists and their creative processes.

Thus, 59Rivoli showed boldness by entering the latter to exhibit one of their works in the museum’s second busiest room: The cloakrooms.

By entering the cloakrooms, where visitors store their personal belongings in transparent lockers, they exhibited a work by one of their resident artists: ‘Immortelle’ by Simon Lamasa. They cut the work into 12 fragments and carefully installed them in 12 separate lockers.

In a 13th locker, we could read the message ‘Art is more than the Mona Lisa’ because, indeed, according to a study published in 2019, 80% of visitors go to the world’s largest museum to see the Mona Lisa.

“This piece is a bas-relief inspired by Gothic architecture, closely linked to religion. I find it interesting to contrast it with the Mona Lisa, considered by many as sacred. The work is made from a simple piece of pine wood, which is not really a noble material. This is somewhat what I want to claim: it’s a work that anyone could have done, with a little patience and time. This is how art should be perceived in my opinion. Something that should not be glorified, and that’s also why we decided to exhibit it in the cloakrooms. You can find even more accessible artworks from several artists at 59Rivoli.” – Simon Lamasa, artist.

“Art Unlocked” is a clever and daring operation carried out by the communication agency mortierbrigade, to whom 59Rivoli turned to shed light on smaller artists and art centers.

“Art Unlocked” was an ambitious project that took months to prepare. Security checks, preparations of hidden cameras, and several rehearsals were necessary to ensure that the artwork could be installed. This is the kind of project we love and it proves that with talent, skill, and perseverance, a lot can be achieved. As mortierbrigade’s creed says: “who dares, wins.” – Joost Berends, creative director at mortierbrigade.

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