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1989

Zenaide et Charlotte à l'assaut des médias

To mark the centenary of the Musée des Beaux-Arts de Toulon, its curator Jean-Roger Soubiran asked Fred Forest to create a media work based on a painting from the museum's collections. 

Communication  Criticism and Ethics 

Typology: Dispositif

1989

For the centenary of the Musée des Beaux-Arts de Toulon and its famous painting by David, the use of La Pesse écrite (Var Matin)-which publishes the painting on its front page accompanied by speech bubbles, Minitel, which allows readers to chat with the two heroines in the Museum and even to meet them at the Agence des télécoms, and several large urban advertisements installed in several places around the city.

Assistant artist Jean-Noël Laszlo, who lives in Toulon, performed his task remarkably well.

Additional comments on the Zenaïde and Charlotte shares

Once again we see that Media Man N°1, Fred Forest, who benefits from this apt nickname, is hitting ever harder with the resources he's deploying. In addition to the written press (Var Matin), radio (Radio Nostalgie) and television (France 2), this time he is adding 4X3 urban advertising hoardings to his campaign.
The use of these billboards is completely different from traditional advertising, since the aim here is not to sell or promote a product, but to get the public to take part in a game initiated by an artist. Two hundred such billboards were installed in the streets of Toulon, close to the shopping centres, reaching an essentially working-class public who were not used to visiting museums. A few examples can be seen below.
More than 3,000 responses were received by the Musée de Toulon in the fortnight following the launch of the campaign. The portrait in oil of Zénaïde and Charlotte Bonaparte painted by David thus emerged from the walls of the Museum and was seen by thousands of people. Jean-Roger Soubiran, curator of the Musée des Beaux-Arts in Toulon, was delighted with the influx of visitors to his museum, and was delighted to have placed his trust in Fred Forest for this original project, inviting his colleagues to do the same.

Concept

To mark the centenary of the Musée des Beaux-Arts in Toulon, curator Jean-Roger Soubiran asked Fred Forest to create a media work based on a painting from the museum's collections. The artist chose a painting by David dating from 1822. The regional daily Var-Matin (circulation 200,000) is publishing a full-page spread of David's painting of Zénaïde and Charlotte Bonaparte, face to face, in deep conversation... Fred Forest has created blank speech bubbles above each character. He asks readers to fill them in and return them to him. What are these two charming people saying to each other? Do they talk about their love affair, the legend, the status of women or the latest nurses' strike? The documents sent back to the museum will be displayed immediately on site, all around David's painting, staged for the occasion. A permanent telephone system, with an answering machine, will allow you to hear their sweet voices and, if you wish, to leave them a message. You can also take part by email. You can chat with any of them via Minitel. From time to time, Zénaïde and Charlotte will step out of the frame of their painting to stroll through the streets of Toulon, arm in arm, followed by journalists from a local radio station who will be reporting live. The elements of the installation will be staged in the Museum and the public's responses will be displayed as they arrive.

Device

  • Painting by David entitled "Portrait of Zénaïde and Charlotte Bonaparte", Museum exhibition room
  • Regional daily newspaper Var-Matin
  • Urban signage
  • Automatic answering machines
  • Telematics
  • Urban space
  • Local radio stations and decentralised Radio-Francev

 

Zenaïde et Charlotte à l'assaut des médias
Zenaïde et Charlotte à l'assaut des médias

 

Zenaïde et Charlotte à l'assaut des médias
Zenaïde et Charlotte à l'assaut des médias

 

Zenaïde et Charlotte à l'assaut des médias
Zenaïde et Charlotte à l'assaut des médias

 

Zenaïde et Charlotte à l'assaut des médias
Zenaïde et Charlotte à l'assaut des médias

 

Zenaïde et Charlotte à l'assaut des médias
Zenaïde et Charlotte à l'assaut des médias

 

  • " Le Musée a cent ans ", catalogue du Musée de Toulon, 1988
  • " Mais que se disent-elles ? ", Var-Matin, Toulon, 19 décembre 1988
  • " À propos du centenaire, le délire de Fred Forest ", Vivre à Toulon, décembre 1988
  • " Toulon, un siècle d'art au Musée ", Var-Matin, Toulon, 15 décembre 1988
  • " Le billet de Zénaïde et Charlotte ", Var-Matin, Toulon, 28 janvier 1989
  • " Le Musée a cent ans ", Libération, Paris, 29 décembre 1988
  • " Zénaïde et Charlotte ", Art Thème, Nice, décembre 1988
Zenaïde et Charlotte à l'assaut des médias
Zenaïde et Charlotte à l'assaut des médias

 

LONG BIOGRAPHY OF FRED FOREST

Fred Forest has a special place in contemporary art. Both by his personality and by his pioneering practices which mark his work. He is mainly known today for having used one by one most of the communication media that have appeared over the last fifty years. He is co-founder of three artistic movements: those of sociological art, the aesthetics of communication and ethics in art.

He represented France at the 12th São Paulo Biennale (Communication Prize) in 1973, at the 37th Venice Biennale in 1976 and at Documenta 6 in Kassel in 1977.

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