Domestic Dreamology

Exhibition commissioner: Alexandra Midal Exhibition from April 11 to September 20, 2009

Since its creation between 1805 and 1827, the Estate of Garenne Lemot has been a source of inspiration for artists and has been the ideal place to confront the permanence of the historical site with the fleeting nature of artistic creations. One of the missions of the cultural policy of the General Council of Loire-Atlantique is to encourage and develop interactions between creators and the estate. It is with that goal in mind that the partnership with the Regional Contemporary Art Fund (FRAC) of the Pays de la Loire continues. It was brought back in 2006 and has been renewed for the next three years, with the inclusion of an annual exhibition.

This year’s exhibition “Domestic Dreamology” is the fourth part of the exhibition program imagined by the FRAC of the Pays de la Loire, as part of the partnership established from 2006 to 2008 and renewed in 2009 – this year – for another three years.

This year, the conception and content of the exhibition are the result of Alexandra Midal’s work, a researcher on the History and Theology of Design, professor at the Fine Arts School of Toulouse, the Ensci in Paris and the Ecal in Lausanne. She is the author of a number of publications on design and the theory of architecture and she regularly writes for specialized journals and exhibition catalogs. She is an independent exhibition commissioner and as such, she has been the curator of several exhibitions across Europe.

For her work in the neoclassical villa, she was tasked with presenting an exhibition using the collections of the FRAC of the Pays de la Loire, kept in Carquefou. Alexandra Midal selected a number of works that seemed interesting but, more importantly, she used the villa in a unique way. She did not simply use the rooms as just exhibition halls, she decided to give the villa its usual function back and present it as a residence, a home.

The exhibition revolves around the essay “The thousand dreams of Stellavista” by J.G. Ballard – a leader in British sci-fi literature – in which the visitor is invited to “rediscover the idea of well-being and comfort, […] and imagine the possible transformations of his identity and behaviors by the environment.”. In the essay, the house is filled with nano-sensors. It reacts to the mood of its inhabitants and keeps a trace of its previous owner’s character. Similarly, Alexandra Midal invites visitors to walk through the villa that becomes, for the exhibition, the “theater of the imagination and domestic fiction”. The villa “seems to have the faculty to memorize and to show the traces that hypothetical previous inhabitants would have left”.

 The building thus comes to life and displays signs of human activity. The story is a recurring theme in horror films and sci-fi literature but Alexandra Midal applies the concept in a unique way to an exhibition venue thanks to the relevant artwork. Over twenty artists, from all over the world, have been chosen to work on the themes of “interior landscapes” that Balard was so fond of. For the task, they used various media, including videos, paintings, drawings, photographs and sculpture. It is thus around the theme of imaginary habitation that the exhibition “Domestic Dreamology” is presented at the departmental estate of Garenne Lemot.