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La Bourse de l’imaginaire, la Bourse du Fait-divers

Once again, it is worth noting the energy it took the artist to put together this installation on his own, without the support of the institution and even with its constant obstruction.

Sociological  Communication 

Paris (FR)

Typology: Dispositif


La bourse de l'imaginaire


La bourse de l'imaginaire

La bourse de l'imaginaire
La bourse de l'imaginaire
La bourse de l'imaginaire
La bourse de l'imaginaire

JUNE 1982

Once again, it's worth pointing out the energy that the artist had to develop to set up this installation on his own, without any support from the institution and even, no doubt through clumsiness, with its permanent obstruction.

Originally, Forest was commissioned by a manager at the CCI (Centre de Création Industrielle) who had to deal with the withdrawal of a foreign team who were due to occupy the central hole on the ground floor.

At the request of X, the head of the CCI, who has now disappeared, Forest was asked to replace a foreign team, with a project that he quickly drew up. His project was called the "Fosse aux Lions, the information pit". It consisted of filling the central hole on the ground floor with a variety of audiovisual resources, the content of which was supplied to him in real time by press agencies, in particular AFP (Agence France Presse), Reuters and Tass. (At the time, the head of the ITC was none other than the brother of the Chairman of AFP...). Forest is counting on this consanguineous link to obtain his sponsorship agreement. http://problemata.org/fr/articles/226

Fred Forest drew up a project with numerous drawings, which he handed over to the head of the Centre Pompidou. Despite his constant reminders, the manager never replied. It was impossible for the artist to get the slightest feedback... Forest, whose temperament is well known, went back to the President of the Centre Pompidou at the time: Jean-Claude Groshens. He sent him a letter of complaint stating that, although no contract had yet been drawn up, he felt that all work deserved to be paid and asked to be paid for the project...

Two months later, in response to his complaint, he received an appointment with Blaise Gauthier, who was in charge of the "Revue parlée" at the time.

Gauthier's first words of welcome were: "Sir, I think you have brought contemporary art into disrepute with your M2". An intelligent man, Blaise ended up becoming a friend of Fred Forest's, even offering to accompany him one day between noon and two o'clock to the BHV, where he had to buy a padlock for the henhouse of his second home in Puy-en-Velay, as part of an appointment with him...

In short, Forest realised that the Centre Pompidou would never finance an exhibition on the M2, so he pulled another project out of his hat: "La Bourse de l'Imaginaire, la Bourse du Fait-divers". And that's when our brave Blaise Gauthier made the monumental mistake of knowing that the Centre wouldn't give him a penny for this project either, and signed an agreement for this new exhibition he was proposing, even naming Forest as curator of his own exhibition.

The only thing I can do for you is to give you an office here and a telephone! And don't come to me again begging for anything else. At the time, the Centre's offices were open-plan, with adjoining cubicles whose walls were barely at eye level. This meant that when you were standing up you could converse with the occupants of the next desk, or pass on the latest circulars from hand to hand 😊

So from that moment on I was able to act like any member of the Centre Pompidou being located there with a telephone and whether my interlocutor was the Pope or the President of the Republic... To reach me, both had to go through the Centre's switchboard, but I myself remained the artist Fred Forest, without changing anything in my idea.

Once I had obtained this advantage, I began to summon to my office the representatives of the main French newspapers who were essential to me in order to involve them in my project.

Most of them came, including those from Libération, France soir, France Inter, Télérama and so on. I ironically pointed out to them that none of the Centre's managers had travelled to see them, because they thought my exhibition was so minor and uninteresting.

(I am now in a position to show these videos to any representative person, academic or otherwise, doing a dissertation on power issues).

I myself wanted to regularise this situation so as to maintain relations that would enable an exhibition curator to obtain the technical and financial resources needed to run an exhibition for which he had been commissioned.

To support my exhibition, I invited the Centre's management to an information meeting about my project: La Bourse de l'imaginaire.

When I arrived at this meeting, organised on my initiative, I was astonished by the extremely cold reception I received from the Beaubourg people who were there and who read me a letter from Jean-Paul Pigeat, the Centre's press advisor:


who said that I couldn't organise this exhibition because it was in direct competition with the one that the CCI had been planning for a long time.

In short, I got up straight away, and angrily returned to my office to continue, whatever the cost, with the preparations for my action, which was to take place in an empty space in the basement, where the 'small room' would remain for some time before the work began at the end of 2004.

Having obtained the office and its telephone, and now this large space for my exhibition, I still have to find all the funds I need so that my Bourse de l'Imaginaire can function as I have conceived it...

A recent friend of mine, whom I've just met at a conference, is delighted to tell me that she runs a small communications company and that she's hoping to win a contract with Henkel detergent. It's a huge multinational that's looking for a cultural event in Paris to boost its image. But her friend had little hope of convincing them, as other competitors were offering them a Fernand Léger exhibition at the Musée d'art Moderne de la Ville de Paris. When I explained to her what I was doing at the Bourse, she didn't believe it, but at the last minute she suggested I join their meeting, which would be chaired by a group of German officials who had travelled specially to Paris to take decisions on the matter... (Henkel's Board of Directors is German and based in Dusseldorf). 

Faced with them, the magic that happens every time in my favour, driven by my own conviction, manages - incredibly - to get them to drop the Fernand Léger project and opt for mine! This was after they had grilled me for two hours, asking me a thousand and one questions each. The CEO of Henkel France, speaking at the opening, said: "If some people are wondering why we decided to do this exhibition with Fred Forest, it's simply because he's like us, a real entrepreneur!

Shortly afterwards, the Centre Pompidou, unaware of Henkel's acceptance, rejected the catalogue I had asked them to publish.  Stéphane Chollet, a friend and colleague from the Ecole d'art de Cergy, and I got down to work straight away, producing 10,000 brand new copies just in time! The problem that remained was how to send them out...

Never mind," I told my friend and colleague straight away, trusting my lucky stars... The solution was obvious! My now permanent office at the Centre Pompidou was next to a sort of outgoing mail bank where the staff came to throw away all the outgoing mail. How could I not have thought of this before?

Then, as the stock to be used up was still large and the time available getting shorter and shorter, I gradually increased the number of copies per day. Until, lo and behold, a circular sent to staff by one of the Centre's managers protested vehemently that I had received a catalogue from the Centre itself! Paying postage for such a short journey seemed to him, quite rightly, an aberration without a name...

With regret, we had to make do with the astronomical budget made available to us by Henkel to pay for the dispatch of the remaining catalogues...


The aim of "La Bourse de l'imaginaire, la Bourse du fait divers" is to test the public's creative potential in an interactive situation.
We can see that the themes of the news items published in the popular press are not foreign to the subjects and mechanisms of art itself. Death, anxiety, pleasure, sexuality, transgression, the unusual, even the absurd, constitute their essential content.
In the situation that Forest has set up, the aim is to 'displace' the object of the 'news item' from one field to another, with the presupposition that the news item is, in (and through) its very reduction, the art of the poor... To stage the whole thing in a somewhat parodic way, modelling its model on the mechanisms and rituals of stock market quotations.
The idea, then, is to use the material chosen and designated as a press 'production' to follow its perception through different contexts and manipulations.


For five weeks, "La Bourse de l'Imaginaire" aims to set up a vast game of exchange and creation of "miscellaneous facts" on a national scale.
A variety of communication equipment will be used in an appropriate setting: telephone lines, automatic answering machines, press agency telex machines, fax machines, photocopiers, video control, telematics, radio installations, exhibition walls, notice boards for daily quotations, an improvisation podium, a mail processing area, etc.
Through the press (written press, radio, TV), the national public is invited to "invent" news items and send them to the Centre Georges Pompidou by post or telephone. The Centre's on-site facilities include typewriters, office equipment and individual tables. A fifteen-strong information management team operates around the clock, collecting news items from various sources, displaying them on the wall, filing and archiving them and entering them into a computer database. The same team breaks down and sends some of the stories to the various print media, which publish them on a daily basis. From time to time, news items are distributed in the Centre, but also outside Paris, in the form of leaflets outside underground stations, in department stores, in various public places and at the Stock Exchange itself, etc.

Media taking part

France-Soir, Libération, La Dépêche du Midi, La Tribune de Lausanne, La Vie Catholique, Le Monde, Autrement, Qui? Police, Le Matin, TF1, R.T.B., France-Inter, France Culture, Agence Centrale de Presse and Nouvelles Littéraires.

The media resources deployed ensured that Forest's action received enormous publicity and, as a result, as he had hoped, widespread popular participation. A national telephone number was set up for the occasion, with up to 8,000 calls a day to the news item with the highest market value!

The "Bourse de l'Imaginaire" proposed as an artistic concept bears witness to a particular type of work that comes under the heading of communication networks where the public is involved in a relationship of interactive participation. This type of work, in tune with contemporary sensibilities, is an exemplary expression of the adaptation of artistic forms to changing mentalities and techniques.

Bourse de l'imaginaire - Catalogue Centre Pompidou

Bourse de l'imaginaire - Catalogue Centre Pompidou
Bourse de l'imaginaire - Catalogue Centre Pompidou


1982 Bourse de l'imaginaire
1982 Bourse de l'imaginaire


1982 Bourse de l'imaginaire France Soir
1982 Bourse de l'imaginaire - France Soir


1982 Bourse imaginaire Texte FF Photo 01 INA24
1982 Bourse imaginaire - Texte FF Photo 01 INA24


1982 Edgar Morin FF
1982 Edgar Morin FF


1982 Libé Bourse
1982 Bourse de l'imaginaire -  Libé



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.