After the Center Pompidou, the exhibition-workshop imagined by Jean-Charles de Castelbajac “The People of Tomorrow” is presented in a “refresh” version at the thousand forms center in Clermont until November 27th. Meeting with the creator to whom we also owe the Clermont 2028 logo. (article enriched with a video)
The people of tomorrow, is the name of an exhibition-workshop, intended for young audiences and imagined by Jean-Charles de Castelbajac for the Center Pompidou. Presented in Paris between September 2021 and July 2022, this exhibition was designed to then go on tour. Malaga, Shanghai… but first of all Clermont precisely within the walls of a thousand shapes, the center of initiation to art for 0 to 6 year olds.
The idea of the exhibition is to invite children to discover the artistic universe of the creator, rich in signs and symbols to which he has been attached since his childhood. Flags, totems or rather “tot’aimes”, emblematic primary colors, make up a world where the signs have a meaning, evoke an idea, provoke an emotion, constituting a form of new age Esperanto for future generations.
7Days in Clermont: compared to the Center Pompidou version, did you have to adapt the exhibition for a thousand forms?
Jean-Charles de Castebajac: the exhibition’s itinerant project is to invest in places that are all different. I had already seen a thousand forms and I actually thought of a specific exhibition, of a staging in relation to Clermont with a black and white floor, between light and black stone, working on the exterior with the head of children upside down who give us their interpretation of the world. As we say in digital language, I wanted to “refresh”. The Pompidou Center is 450 m², here it’s smaller, but as Mozart said “from accepted constraint, freedom is born”.
7JàC: do you adapt easily to constraints?
JCdC: I have spent my life transforming constraints. I hope that the people of Clermont will be sensitive to the various innovations of the exhibition. We made a fresco with the children, like a guard of honor for the people of tomorrow, we made these big heads… I’ve never seen my drawings so enlarged…. and then I really like this metaphor of broken clouds, these fragments of clouds which are, in our unconscious, pieces of dreams… the great dreams of childhood, “I will be a cosmonaut, a pilot, I will do this, I will do that and then what remains of it when we arrive in our adult life.
7JàC: who makes up the People of Tomorrow?
JCdC: the President of the People of tomorrow is my daughter Eugénie who is two and a half years old, it is my grandson Balthazar who is 14 years old, it is another grandson to come in January… The people of tomorrow is an international union, it is a first generation which is totally aware of its duties and its responsibilities. My generation was in the aftermath of this industrial and revolutionary energy to live on the comfort that machines, oil and abundance had brought us. There, the young people are very moving, because there is really a cult on their part, to protect the crumbs that are left for them. What we leave them should almost be sanctuary. It can only be a total and participative rescue… knowing that we are in a dystopia. There is a point of no return, we will never return to the Amazon as I saw it from the plane when I was 20 years old.
7JàC: in a world where everything is technology is it important to express oneself with simple things, touch, listen, look?
JCdC: this is the purpose of my exhibition-workshop, which is an immersive, participatory exhibition. In fact, it is the strength of my art, to be accessible to everyone, to all walks of life, to all worlds, to all ages and to be able to communicate through these simple signs. In this sense, I am cousin of Kieth Haring, of Henri Matisse, cousin of a whole generation of artists who were in essence, in simplicity. I don’t know why I have this idea in my head, but I almost succeeded, by dint of drawings, in drawing a dove. It took me 50 years for my dove to take flight in my drawings.
7JàC: one of the first things you see when you arrive in a thousand shapes is a large totem, is it the symbol of the transition from one mode to another?
JCdC: yes, and it’s also a way of talking about spirituality without talking about religion. Today the conflicts between religions are one of the bases of a world which is destabilized and I think that there is another way of speaking about spirituality… it is to return to a millennial notion of celebration of nature , living together, space, the city… hence this idea of a totem.
7JàC: The initiation to art for the youngest has become essential?
JCdC: I am the bearer of the idea that art has a role of social cement, that it is the best medium for asking the most important questions. Art has a unifying role and above all, it is an extraordinary weapon for future generations.