Sunday, October 12, 2008

Le Cent Quatre

The following is a guest post from Leo:

As promised, here's a quick report.

First, it's still work in progress. On day one of public opening, just one workshop in public use, but unfortunately, the artist had not arrived yet...

The place won't be humming until next Spring.

A memento of past "laicité" wars, it was built in the 1870's (on the site of a former slaughterhouse) as the warehouse for the Paris Catholic diocese funeral organization. Was seized by the City in 1905 after the separation of Church and State "to provide decent funerals for citizens irrespective of their creeds and financial means". It was not a funeral parlor, but a big industrial facility where hearses and horses were parked and caskets were manufactured and stored. Ofically, the City lost its funeral monoploy in the late 80's (of course, as often in France, the monopoly had effectively disappeared a long time before).

It is located near railroad lines which were useful to carry the timber used in the casket making process. Located in the 19th arrondissement, it is surrounded by housing projects and is close to an area that recently made the headlines after the Paris prosecutor declared an war against local gang warfare. Clearly, not your typical bourgeois area, we will be thrilled "de nous encanailler" when we visit the shows and attend artist performances.

The architecture is plain vanilla end of 19th century industrial of no special character. I have seen several similar projects in various European capitals (Brussels, Rome, Vienna...). However, the money spent (> € 100 Mio) shows, with quality fixtures and material.

You can see a few pictures on


Anonymous said...

A funeral factory, built by the Church immediately after the Commune, and opened in 1873. Not far from Père LaChaise and the "mur des fusillés". At top speed, it could serve up two hundred funerals a day: a very impressive space--good for every imaginable kind of re-functioning, except, perhaps, for a library.

Delanoë gave a really eloquent speech, spoken off the cuff, ten-to-fifteen minutes long. He took the opportunity to spell out a broad political vision grounded on love, sharing, and creativity. Who could quarrel with that? He looked very happy, as did Christophe Girard... Many a warm smile throughout.

God knows how this will play out, but the sendoff was splendid, truly festive.

Anonymous said...

Not to rain on the parade (it was a beautiful day after all), but the night portion of the festivities turned into a bit of a fiasco. As Delanoe had ordered up publicity all over to Paris to launch the 104, tens of thousands streamed to watch a free concert at 9pm. Most were turned away sparking an angry response that eventually stopped the concert hours early. The 104 in and of itself isn't a concert venue or even expo space specifically which many had trouble understanding. Indeed, succinctly defining the 104 to the broader public is one of its administration's most important challenges.