À la Recherche, 2015

Les Bains, Paris

Les Bains, a legendary nightclub and international party scene hot spot in the 1980s and 90s was developed into a hotel, restaurant and club.

We created a site-specific installation for an extraordinary space in the renovated Les Bains. The sculpture, which brings to mind an exploded disco ball, covers the surrounding walls in scattered points of reflected light from which the words “RE TROUVE LE TEMPS PERDU” are composed over and over again. These words can be understood as “The lost times are found” (LE TEMPS PERDU RETROUVE) or “Find the lost times” (RETROUVE LE TEMPS PERDU) depending on where the viewer starts reading. The words are a reference to the legendary past of the space as Les Bains nightclub and ties into Marcel Proust’s magnum opus “À la recherche du temps perdu” (In Search of Lost Time), in which involuntary memories triggered by everyday activities, objects and sensations is the recurring motif.

The Installation À la recherche was created for a room that served as a water tank for the spa in the 19th and early 20th century. At approximately twenty square meters, the floor area is not large, but the ceiling is 15 meters high. From a height of about two meters the walls have been left unrenovated – there, the sculpture rotates slowly above the heads of visitors, throwing reflections onto the rough walls.

Manual labour and computational design went hand in hand for the production of À la recherche. The orientation and distribution of the mirror facets were computationally designed. The sculpture is made up of a sphere in 33 fragments, to which a total of 2800 small, square mirrors are attached. The mirror facets sit separately on printed holders and then glued on by hand. The mirror elements that reflect the words are attached to flexible joints and individually aligned based on the computationally defined angle.

The exploded disco ball, the slow movement of the reflections in the space and the recurring motif make À la recherche a contemplative work of art that pays homage to the wild years of Les Bains.