FHH and the Michelangelo Foundation “Singular Talents”
The Fondation de la Haute Horlogerie and the Michelangelo Foundation have mounted an exhibition devoted to rare crafts and singular artisans in their new building on Geneva’s Pont de la Machine.
The Fondation de la Haute Horlogerie and the Michelangelo Foundation have renamed their new premises on the Pont de la Machine “Arcades des Arts”. “The name came quite easily. ‘Arcades’ refers to the arches on the façade of the building, which was built on the Rhone in 1843. The ‘Arts’ part is a reference to the celebration of the horological arts, applied arts and artistic crafts in the broadest sense,” explains Fabienne Lupo, director of the Fondation de la Haute Horlogerie and co-director of the Michelangelo Foundation.
Alberto Cavalli and Fabienne Lupo © WorldTempus/Joy Corthésy
In this brand new setting, the two foundations have joined forces to create an exceptional exhibition entitled “Singular Talents”. The result is a triumph. The exhibition was designed with a specific goal: to preserve these rare and singular crafts by introducing them to younger generations, which could ignite interest and thus perpetuate these skills. “‘Singular’ is what we call a person who decides that an exceptional craft should not disappear, because its beauty still deserves to be perpetuated; ‘singular’ means being the only person in a vast territory with the skills to exercise a craft; ‘singular’ is the word we give to a woman who performs a skill that is generally the preserve of men, and vice versa; ‘singular’ is finding the courage to look at yourself with authenticity, and tell yourself that this rather unusual art form is what you want to do,” explains Alberto Cavalli, co-director of the Michelangelo Foundation and curator of the exhibition. “In castles and museums there are always these portrait galleries, hung with people who look down at us, as much as to say, ‘time passes but we remain, and you’re here looking at us, remembering us and what we have achieved.’ So I wanted to create a contemporary portrait gallery that would introduce these ‘singular talents’ through a film that explains their life, their vision and their profession. In order to do that, we had to present authentic stories, because authenticity and truth is what touches people’s hearts.”
“Singular Talents” exhibition © WorldTempus/Jordy Bellido
My heart was definitely touched. It was a three-stage process, corresponding to the three different approaches the FHH and the Michelangelo Foundation have put in place. In order to provide an understanding of the work of the fifteen European artisans spotlighted, the exhibition is based around a series of short films (3 minutes each) that introduce these ‘singular talents’, narrated by the protagonists themselves (the films are subtitled in French and English, in addition to the soundtrack broadcast through a headset). The fifteen portraits take a total of 45 minutes. But don’t assume that this makes the visit long and tedious, because it absolutely doesn’t. In fact, it seemed to go by in a flash. Thanks to the work of young Swiss filmmaker Thibault Vallotton, who spent around five months on the project (three months filming and two putting them together), the first few seconds of each portrait immediately draw the viewer directly into the universe of these ‘singular talents’, aided by the intimate viewpoint. They create a sense of familiarity with the arts of enamelling, miniature painting and marquetry.
Enamelling, marquetry and miniature painting © WorldTempus/Jordy Bellido
© WorldTempus/Jordy Bellido
This audiovisual section, which is the cornerstone of the exhibition, is complemented by two further approaches. The second takes a step closer to reality: augmented reality. Thanks to a VR headset, it is possible to enter the workshops of three of the artisans, including enameller Anita Porchet, who says her studio – “a place of calm, beauty and protection” – was “rebuilt absolutely identically” to that of her godfather. Indeed, it was thanks to her godfather and his workshop that Anita Porchet became an enameller. This experience helps to make the exhibition even more vivid and personal.
Two of the ‘singular talents’: Philippe Dufour and Anita Porchet © WorldTempus/Joy Corthésy
The third medium brings visitors entirely into reality, through the objects themselves. Some of the artisans’ works are on display as part of the exhibition. The exhibition draws an arc, from the creative process documented in the films, to the physical reality of the works created, via the intermediate stage of augmented reality. The process comes full circle, leaving the visitor with the impression that they have been involved in every stage of creation.
The variety of methods used to present these rare crafts offers a genuine advantage in showcasing the work of these 15 artisans, leaving visitors with a strong and enduring impression of these ‘singular talents’.
Here’s all the information you need:
Place: Arcades des Arts, Pont de la Machine 1, Geneva
Date: 30 January to 25 March 2020, Tuesday to Saturday, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Price: Free admission
For further information, click here.