Construire l'image: le Corbusier et la photographie – Exhibition in La Chaux-de-Fonds (30.09.2012–13.01.2013)

September 2012 - Creative Direction and Art Direction: onlab, Thibaud Tissot, Nicolas Bourquin, Niloufar Tajeri
Exhibition design: onlab, Thibaud Tissot, Niloufar Tajeri, Haleh Najafi, Guido Tamino
Guest curators: Tim Benton, Jean-Christophe Blaser, Veronique Boone, Arthur Rüegg, Catherine de Smet, Klaus Spechtenhauser
Main curator: Lada Umstätter, Museum of Fine Arts of La Chaux-de-Fonds

A good many exhibitions have already been devoted to the multiple facets of Le Corbusier's work, but his relationship to photography, although it touches on many aspects of his varied career, is a theme that has so far received little attention. Photography is, of course, an essential medium for the dissemination of his architectural work, but this exhibition is not limited to the photographic representations of Le Corbusier's creations. Indeed, what concerns the curators here is photography not only as a tool for representation, promotion and diffusion, but also as a means of artistic creation.

The exhibition is presented in 7 sections, which were curated by 6 internationally renowned curators. Since every curator operated following different curatorial concepts, the challenge of the exhibition design and scenography was to develop a consistent language, which converges the different thematic approaches. For each section, we defined one color from the famous "Salubra" palette of Le Corbusier. We positioned the colored title partitions facing the entrance to each section. The design of the displays was inspired by an exhibition, which Le Corbusier designed in the same museum in the 50s. He had placed the displays onto trestles, which we adopted and reinterpreted for this exhibition. The simple design and the raw materials (spruce wood) play with the notion of picture frames.

"La vulgarisation opérée dans cet accrochage est une des plus réussies que j'ai pu voir sur le sujet"

Mario Botta (English translation: "This is the most successful example of vulgarization through hanging that I have seen on this topic so far.")

The first two sections "Biographical notes" and "Portratis of a life – between private life and public personality" were curated by Klaus Spechtenhauser. Both sections retrace the life of Le Corbusier by means of photography. A large-scale chronology gives a comprehensive overview accompanied with photographs of his life from early childhood until his late years.

"Promotion of his work – The architects's photographer" curated by Veronique Boone focuses on the depiction of his work by the most famous architects of the time, among them René Burri. A film, which shows his early attempt to disseminate architecture and modernity, is an impressive example of how progressively he dealt with the media-based promotion of his work.

Curated by Jean-Christophe Blaser, the section "Contemporary approaches – Modernism from a distance" was designed like a white cube presenting modern depictions of Le Corbusier's buildings around the world.

The two sections "A secret photographer – Memory and mental photography", curated by Tim Benton, and "In support of words – Photography and publishing", curated by Catherine de Smet, are located in one room. Separated by a library box, which serves at the same time as the title wall for both, the two sections are autonomous, and yet connected. The red part of Caterine de Smet presents publications of Le Corbusier on the walls and in the displays, and the blue part of Tim Benton reveals photographic material and footage which is on display to the public for the first time.

"Monumental photographs – Photography in architecture" was curated by Arthur Rüegg. Presenting the large-scale reconstructions of two frescos and the "studiolo", the room was conceived as truly monumental in its scenography.