02. März 2016 | von Daniele Turini Kommentieren

An Interview with Adeline Rispal

Adeline, we are right now standing in one of the ten rooms of the exhibition SILVER & GOLD. Can you describe to our readers what they can expect to see in this very room?

So the room we’re standing in is a salon. It symbolizes kind of a wine and dine experience. The objects presented on the long dining table demonstrate the development of drinking vessels through the ages. Large mirrors at both ends of the table make the room feel like it’s never ending. Visitors can either stand in between or sit at the table to look at the objects. As you will see, tables are one of the recurring elements of the exhibition. 


Room «Cups, Drinking Games & Candlesticks». Photo: Luc Boegly

Can you tell us about the idea behind that?

Of course! One thing that silver and gold objects have in common is that they were used for representational purposes – especially the tableware of the 17th and 18th centuries, which is one of the highlights of the exhibition. So the social aspects – like sitting together and interacting at a table – prevailed and ended up becoming one of the key elements of the exhibition.

The early Classicist architecture of the Opens internal link in current windowMuseum für Wohnkultur sure wasn’t easy to align with the objects and the scenography. How did you approach this challenge?

From the very beginning we tried to understand the specificity of the building. The language of the building is very strong; each room has a different character. The same goes for the objects. Silver and gold objects have a powerful aura. Their brilliance, their deeper meanings and their complexity have a strong impact on the exhibition itself. The scenography helps to build a relationship between visitors, the setting and the objects. 

Can you give us an example?

Sure. The room dedicated to the guilds of Basel is a good example. The Basel guilds have supported the art of goldsmithing since the 16th century and for us it was essential to make visitors understand that. Visitors will enter a room where they are invited to join the round table of a guild, and if they understand the room as such, it means that all three elements really do complement each other.


Room «The Guilds of Basel». Photo: Luc Boegly

Besides being a scenographer, you’re also an architect. Can you tell us the difference between planning an exhibition and an architecture project?

Being an architect I probably have a very «architectural» approach to scenography. I feel deeply that architecture itself is the strongest kind of scenography one can imagine. On the one hand it serves as an outer shell to protect us humans from atmospheric conditions. On the other hand it tries to understand and accommodate our activities and to express our aspirations. The way people live and feel architecture is important to keep in mind. It has a spiritual dimension. That is where architecture and museums meet. In his book Le Musée imaginaire, Opens external link in new windowAndré Malraux, the former French Minister of Culture, wrote “Le musée est un des lieux qui donnent la plus haute idée de l'homme.” A museum, therefore, can be considered a place of non-religious spirituality.


French Pavillon (Expo Milano 2015) by Studio Adeline Rispal. Photo: Luc Boegly & Antoine Duhamel

I realized that in SILVER & GOLD light has a powerful impact on the atmosphere of the rooms. Is it something you’ve been playing with intentionally?

Absolutely! The lighting is a strong scenographic element. Reflection is very much linked to light. This is true of every exhibition and all the more so of SILVER & GOLD! In the room we are standing in now, the candles symbolize la lumière celeste – the holy light. Flickering candlelight makes the religious objects – such as the Opens external link in new windowreliquary of St. Ursula from Basel Cathedral Treasury – come alive. It references the light in medieval churches and helps facilitate the relationship between visitors and objects. It also adds tremendously to the atmosphere, doesn’t it?


Room «Fascination of Brilliance». Photo: Luc Boegly

It sure does! One last question: Now that the exhibition is up and running, what do you like best?

Personally I’m very interested in reliquaries. Relics of saints such as bones, pieces of clothing, etc. were kept first in closed and then in opened reliquaries. Opens external link in new windowRoland Recht’s book «Le croire et le voir» explains how reliquaries were opened for pilgrims to see the relics inside. That was not just the basis of religious tourism, but probably the beginning of the showcase, too! 

Thank you very much, Adeline!

My pleasure!

Opens external link in new windowwww.adelinerispal.com

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