DARK PLACES: Part II.
‘The Castle: The World’s Fair Hotel.’



‘Dark Places: Part II. The Castle: The World’s Fair Hotel.’ Installation. Wood, Blue Back print. 600 x 350 cm. CAPC, Bordeaux, France.

The second chapter of my on-going project Dark Places has taken place at CAPC, Bordeaux, France. This new episode has been especially conceived and imagined for the group show Barbe à Papa (03.11.2022-14.05.2023) curated by Cédric Fauq

Dark Places


Dark Places enacts the functional and architectural transformation of emblematic symbols in the United States. It takes the form of a series of episodes, that follows my movements around the US. Each section takes as its focus a city, a state or a region of America, and places that I consider central to my artistic research. For each chapter of Dark Places, I create a unique installation, inspired by the different architectures of the elements I have selected to focus on. The scale and scope of the installation depends on the exhibition space in which the project is shown, allowing me to create a dialogue between the space and the work.
Dark Places also features a publication or other form of documentation for each geographical section of the project, conceived as the diary of a sort of detective, that will report the various analyses and observations of the transformed elements, as well as the process of creating the resulting installation.
By focusing specifically on symbols, figures and places drawn from stories, events, and fictions that deeply impacted my childhood and adolescence, I seek to analyze and compare American material culture. I draw parallels between the changes they undergo over time with the evolution of the intimate relationship I have with them, and the symbolism they constitute for me and in the collective imaginary. Whether these symbols are at the service of fictions or are drawn from real events, how do their transformations and sometimes disappearance, impact the relationship that we have with the myths and stories to which these symbols are attached? What space do these symbols occupy, through their mutations, in our imagination?

Barbe à Papa


‘Barbe à Papa is an exhibition that could be defined as a travelling fairground’s shadow, slowed down and in the process of dismantling. The exhibition gathers works by more than 50 artists - sculptures, installations, videos, paintings, performances - sharing material, formal or cultural ties with fairgrounds’ components. Artworks are thus made from air, electricity, steel and plastic, but also sugar and oil. 
(...) Barbe à Papa is equally the attempt  - historically grounded - to bring the fairground and the exhibition together, to better understand their shared mechanisms, but also ask the question: what can the museum learn from the funfair today ? As well as: is an artwork, always, an attraction ?’

Text by Cédric Fauq.

Photos credits: Arthur Péquin

Dark Places: part two.
‘The Castle: The World’s Fair Hotel.’


‘Scoring by her converging interests for American architecture, dark tourism, and movie sets, Cécile di Giovanni turned to the World’s Fair of 1893 in Chicago. Among a swarm of human zoos, technical displays and thrill rides, a certain hotel piqued the artist’s attention. This hotel had been designed by a man who would later be regarded - and condemned - as the first serial killer in the history of the US: H.H. Holmes. The occasion of the World’s Fair provided him with an opportunity to open his own hotel - a house of unmitigated horrors - on Midway Plaisance. A bit farther along the way stood a Ferris wheel, the first of its kind.
Where the hotel once stood now sits a post office. Cécile di Giovanni has designed a life-size billboard spread with a poster that could advertise for a ride, but directly refers to H.H. Holmes hotel of horrors - making use, however, of a 3D image of the present building instead of one of the hotel itself.’
Text by Cédric fauq.


Work-in-progress


My intervention at first was supposed to be materialized by a path on the floor of the museum. The idea was to imagine a drawing that would use Holmes hotel’s plan with its real measurements, or at least an addition of all the measurements that are found online on the Internet. As a matter of fact, one of the major specifity of Holme’s hotel is that no one except himself have ever had in hands the original map of the hotel. He purposely hired different architects to make sure no one could guess what he really had in mind. 
Because the drawing on the floor was interfering too much with the other artworks around, we decided both Cédric Fauq and I to work on another installation idea that would be the billboard presented during the show. If I’m mentioning this first avorted idea, it is because the logo that appears on the billboard’s print is the direct result of all the work that has been done with the path.




Billboard



Billboard’s print



Merchandising


Limited edition of keychains on sale at the CAPC museum store. Available only during the time of the show.


Credits


Graphics: Lucas Masini
3D: Sophie Mil
Special thanks: Cédric Fauq, Sandra Patron, CAPC museum team, Muriel and Marie from the museum store.