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Jean-François D’Or’s FRArGILE

This month, the Belgian designer becomes the curator of FRArGILE, an exhibition at the Maison des Arts in Schaerbeek that explores the fragility of an everyday material like clay

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Text by Rab Messina

Be nice to your neighbours, they say. For the Maison des Arts (MDA) and designer Jean-François D’Or, who share a small perimeter in Schaerbeek, this couldn’t be truer. For years, D’Or would be privy to the comings and goings of the art center, as it was a few steps away from his atelier, Loudordesign Studio —he also had an exhibition there in 2010. This month, he’s honouring that close relationship as the curator of a special event: the last show before the Maison goes into renovations, forever changing what is now so familiar to many.

With FRArGILE —a portmanteau made with the French terms for “fragile” and “clay”—, D’Or explores the duality between a state and a material. It’s the brick, the tiles, the earthenware that take their rightful place on walls, on floors, in precious indoor spaces. It’s the fragility of earth that helps explore the fragility of the human being —and being human.

For the exhibition, D’Or selected the work of ceramicists, photographers, designers, writers, video artists, sculptures, photographers and musicians —including Pierre Charpin, Hugo Meert, Andrea Branzi and pieces from the MDA collection.

We spoke with the Belgian designer about his selections for the exhibition, his relationship to the MDA and the links between sound and clay.

TLmag: Why did you decide to work with sound in this exhibition?
Jean-François D’Or: I had the opportunity to have a large, free vision, since the Maison des Arts entrusted me with a carte blanche to manage the whole project. So I didn’t want to build it with a specific sector in mind, but instead I wanted to approach many different sensitivities, coming from different fields. These linked ideas of objects, materials, installations, videos, texts, musics and performances came very fast and determined the rhythm of the scenography.

The main idea was to cross together those different actors, and propose dialogues through the exhibition. I wanted this to become a space for experimentation, a melting pot of alchemy through these different disciplines.

TLmag: You’re also working with some very material pieces in a place that will soon change its materiality. How did you approach that?
JFDO: Indeed, when the Maison des Arts asked me if I wanted to play the game and wear the hat of a curator, the team also told me about the future transformation of this amazing house. The concept of building an exhibition through the chantier [Ed. note: construction site] as a work in progress, came up.

The “FRArGILE” concept, a wordplay that I had on my notebooks for years, came very quickly, as it might be linked to that process of renovation.

TLmag: Which pieces currently intrigue you?
JFDO: I can compare the selection of pieces, which happened very fast, to a very precious box where you wish to collect sensitive stories.

There’s the Sound Research of industrial designer Judicaël Cornu; it makes me curious because it is still in process as an experience. It’s ongoing, until December 2: a gifted percussionist, Joël Grare, will be in charge of a concert, a performance with those experimental sandstone pieces.

De loin parallèle, the video-performance by Bernard Gigounon, touched my poetical and lyrical fibers.

The Elbow piece by Roeland Tweelinckx [Ed. note: the cover image in this post] communicates using an universal language: it’s the contrast and duality of the soft and the hard, the fragile and the resistant, raw or cooked material, the light and the heavy. The fall is dampened by so many paradoxes.

FrARgile is open until December 2, 2017

ATELIER LACHAERT DHANIS Saucisse Handmade cement tiles, 20 x 20 cm Image courtesy of Atelier Lachaert Dhanis ©
ATELIER LACHAERT DHANIS Saucisse Handmade cement tiles, 20 x 20 cm Image courtesy of Atelier Lachaert Dhanis ©
BENEDETTO BUFALINO Tennis d'appartement Green carpet, painted lines on carpet, net, rackets, tennis balls View of installation at Interface - l'appartement galerie, Dijon, 2014 © Image courtesy of Benedetto Bufalino
BERNARD GIGOUNON De loin parallèle Video performance 06:14 min, 2016 Still courtesy of Bernard Gigounon
FRÉDÉRIQUE FICHEROULLE Moods Cups (Steady, relax, audacious, comfy, sensual, dynamic) Plaster molder, ABS 3D printed model Image courtesy of Frédérique Ficheroulle
JUDICAËL CORNU Sound Research Seven sound objects. Sandstone. Music piece with percussionist Joël Grare. Image courtesy of Judicaël Cornu
JORGE MÉNDEZ BLAKE The Capital and the Wall Bricks and book. 2009-2013. Image courtesy of Jorge Méndez Blake and Meessen De clercq Gallery Brussels
LAETITIA BICA Dazed Image courtesy of Laetitia Bica

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