Le Bain (The Bath)
Christophe Marchalot and Felicia Fortuna, Jury’s special merit – 2012 call for contemporary creation
Finalists of the 2012 call for creation on the theme “Design furniture in Aubusson, Christophe Marchalot and Felicia Fortuna were distinguished by a Jury’s special merit for their project Le Bain. A creepy and seducing object, which seems to be directly coming out a contemporary cabinet of curiosities.
Quirky and unexpected project, Le Bain explores the tapestry medium, both by getting inspired and getting free from traditional category, to get into the grey area between design and plastic arts. Le Bain is material and shape, half-natural creature, half-object, as if it were coming from a surrealist vegetal world. It is a disturbing creation, unclassifiable, which transforms the pluricentennial narrative universe of the Aubusson tapestry into a sensitive experience, built around the fantastic bestiary.
In that, Christophe Marchalot’s and Felicia Fortuna’s project, located at the border of the vegetal and animal world, is in coherence with the essential qualities of the Aubusson tapestry, decorative medium, narrative and immersive. It sets and reminds of the raw materials necessary to the tapestry manufacturing: wool to weave, plants to dye. The tones are inspired by the shell of a Thai beetle, here re-worked by Mankind, echoing the strange and fantastic creatures from the Middle-Ages’ bestiaries, which inhabit the traditional greeneries of Aubusson.
The immersivity of Le Bain is double-sided. It sinks the spectator in a harrowing and sensual atmosphere, while it proposes to the body to submerge in water. The choice of the object-bathtub echoes the recurrence of the water theme in the works of the two artists and causes a breach until now unexploited in the tapestry field but involved from the 18th Century onwards by needle lace works for the making of bathtub’s surrounds. Decorative art by excellence, the tapestry essentially spread in the salons. It gets out here from its traditional range to enter a housing field, which it had not formerly explored. As an object evocating the sensuality, this tub creates an opening on the intimacy, far from the chivalrous epics, which were used as inspiration for many hangings in Aubusson.
The work showcases the ambivalent relationship mankind had, and always has with water. Le Bain puts forward the preciousness of the water, source of life at heart of the environmental and strategic issues of the 21st Century. But it also reveals the danger of this liquid, yet so necessary to Humanity and hygiene. The object reminds that, in the Middle-Ages, the triggering of the plague caused public baths’ closing. Evoking undeniably the HIV, the tub’s spikes refresh these dreads.
This artistic view proposed by Christophe Marchalot and Felicia Fortuna to illustrate their woven bathtub project seduced a collector visiting the Museum and ordered the weaving by Catherine Bernet’s workshop in Felletin. The work has fallen down the loom in December 2014.
Formed as an architect, Christophe Marchalot first devoted himself to the conception and the creation of furniture then to architectural projects, notably within the agencies Massimiliano Fuksas and Marc Barani. He then specialized in the layout and the panorama at the Conservatoire International des Parcs et Jardins in Chaumont-sur-Loire. Felicia Fortuna first studied drama at the Sorbonne Nouvelle, before becoming a plastic artist and author. They work together since 2008.