"le chalet d'en bas", Montreux Jazz Festival
Curators: Veronica Tracchia & Mauricio Estrada Muñoz
“Everything remembered, everything thought, all awareness becomes base, frame, pedestal, lock and key of his ownership. Period, region, craft, previous owners - all, for the true collector, merge in each one of his possessions into a magical encyclopaedia whose quintessence is the fate of his object.”
Walter Benjamin, The Arcades Project
What sort of primal impulse makes one become a collector? At what point the urge to keep becomes obsessive and occupies largely one’s life? Going through the strange, eclectic and fascinating collection of Claude Nobs, founder and past director of the Montreux Jazz Festival, the question of the fate of the objects and of the relative value of them arises vividly. One can see this “encyclopaedical” collection as an ethnographical radiography of the man. Through time he collected everything and anything obsessively. From 5 dollars objects bought on a street to paintings of recognised artist like Keith Haring. In his mountain chalet where this odd collection can be found, all these objects juxtapose chaotically, without a precise order or hierarchy. Rather, the objects seem to live at the rhythm of Claude Nob’s life, without a thoughtful agenda or plan, being removed or moved around continuously.
Being curatorial is a very complicated task when it comes to propose to bring a collection out of a private space and expose it to the public. The collection of objects has to be uprooted from its natural environment and inevitably becomes museum-oriented. The objects acquire a new status. However, this status has to contain the essence of their companionship and contribution to the life of Claude Nobs.
Claude Nobs had a country-ski accident on the 24th of December 2012. He passed away after days in coma, on the 10th of January leaving behind an incredible legacy: a worldwide known jazz and music festival and a fabulous collection of all kind of things related to music history. For the 2013 Montreux Jazz Festival the idea of creating a new space to expose publically part of this collection was matured and seemed a necessity in order to pay an immediate tribute to the defunct director.
A team of designers (BUREAU A) and curators (Veronica Tracchia and Mauricio Estrada Munoz) was commissioned the urgent task to develop an exhibition project and to bring it to realisation in a rather short period of time. THE COLLECTION concept emerges from the idea of a dynamic exhibition, one that can be looked at and listened to, but also on that can be manipulated continuously, accepting change with a sort of non-sacral relation to the exhibited objects. Accepting the paradox of an inhabited and playful Sol Lewitt sculpture THE COLLECTION is a modern “wunderkammer” of the life of Claude Nobs and the history of the festival.
The central piece of the space is an inhabited library, specially conceived to host the 40’000 LP collection of Nobs (the audio visual archives of Nobs have been granted with the Unesco certification). This 25 meters long structure is decomposed into two libraries and a central passageway. Disc jockeys and specialised staff can enter the library and use it as an active archive, playing LP sets to the public. The structure is thus the support that can enable the professionals to bring life to the exhibited collection.
As a rather subtle reference, the library is conceived completely in wood to recall the warm and intimate atmosphere of Nobs chalet where many parties with incredible artist were held throughout the years. The structure is as obsessive as the collector’s mind. Based on a unique wood beam section and assembled in a very repetitive manner, with the rigour of a minimal sculpture. Pieces are bolted with brass wing nuts, easily dismountable and completely modular.
The space surrounding the library is a quiet but slightly decadent livingroom. As in The Party, Blake Edward’s masterpiece, the domestic space where Hollywood serious film-business is discussed might evolves into a Russian fiesta with white elephants... THE COLLECTION is that same sort of space, a potential room for activation of life and music, in the décor of a fascinating collector.
BUREAU A, rue de Grenus 12, 1201 Genève, Switzerland firstname.lastname@example.org