MO.CO. Montpellier Contemporain is an arts ecosystem, ranging from arts training related activities to art collections. The model is unique to Montpellier and encompasses two exhibition centres and an arts school: l'Hôtel des collections, an exhibition centre for public or private international collections, La Panacée, contemporary art centre and ESBA (Montpellier Art School).
MO.CO. Hôtel des collections, an exhibition centre for international public and private collections
Ideally located, the MO.CO. Hôtel des collections serves as the main headquarters for Montpellier Contemporain. Inaugurated in June 2019 in the former Montcalm Hôtel, the MO.CO. is Montpellier’s cultural platform. The centre doesn't exhibit permanent collections but hosts international public and private collections. Whether collective, individual, themed or historical, each exhibition show a specific collection: that of a foundation, a private collector, a company, a museum or even an artist. Most collections are shown to the general public here for the first time.
A stimulating place for living, open to all
Modern and cosmopolitan, the MO.CO. offers audiences of all types the opportunity to fully engage with modern-day art. The MO.CO. Hôtel des collections has been designed as place in which to spend time and, beyond the exhibitions themselves, a place for the general public as a whole, whatever their age, to enjoy. Indeed, the ground-floor restaurant, gardens and boutique (renewed seasonally), are warm and welcoming and punctuate Montpellier’s day and night life. A partnership has also been launched with Montpellier’s Paul Valéry University and its network of researchers, to set up an international research centre on the concept of collection, in all its diversity.
Works of art, freely accessible to all
Alongside the temporary exhibitions, the venue is also dedicated to hosting the work of artists directly related to the architecture of the building. This approach was an integral and essential component in Philippe Chiambaretta’s project: in his own words, “the magical rebirth of the MO.CO. (formerly, Montcalm Hôtel) through the artistic transformation of functional to fictional. The fiction will unravel in three sequences: the Magic Garden, the Enchanted Hôtel and the Cour des Fêtes.”
The garden of five continents, an atlas-garden designed by Bertrand Lavier
Bertrand Lavier, who was entrusted with the creation of a permanent work outdoors, has crafted a garden in the form of a world map, composed of plant species from the four corners of the globe, all lovingly selected with gardener, landscaper, botanist and biologist, Gilles Clément. The project is all about taking time; the natural time required for the seasonal evolution of plants: planting, growing and evolving, peaceful animals only, no predators, slowly does it here... two turtles inhabit this natural living environment. The garden is divided into two parts: one part can be entered, and the other not. Signage designed by Bertrand Lavier echoes the former labelling codes of botanical gardens. A fountain designed by the artist will also grace the centre of the planted atlas. The garden, specially designed for the MO.CO., is the first ever made by the artist.
The enchanted Hôtel: artistic happenings around the building
Along with the garden, the refurbished building will host two artistic happenings: one in the restaurant/bar area, the other in the gardens, on the façade.
- Restaurant/bar area: Idle Mode, Loris Gréaud
Taking his cue from the crumpled plan of the building, Loris Gréaud has created a unique neon suspension light that covers the ceiling of the Hôtel des collections’ bar, providing an original twist to a space dedicated to sharing and conviviality. In video game parlance, “idle mode” refers to when a player is at rest and sets aside the controller. Often the game’s developers provide a loop animation so that the character continues to “live” autonomously as it awaits further instructions. Loris Gréaud’s, “idle mode” alludes to the way the piece is activated or inactive depending on the presence of viewers. When the space is occupied (when the bar is open) the work looks like a lighting element used to illuminate the venue. When, on the other hand, the bar is empty, the work enters into motion and pulsation. The light fitting starts vibrating, morphing. We begin to hear a sound clip featuring a cut-up of William S. Burroughs’ “Electronic revolution” interpreted by Abel Ferrara. The work, and therefore the location in itself, is placed in idle mode.
- Façade/ Garden side
Every year the main front of the MO.CO. Hôtel des collections is to serve as a springboard for new art events. The artist selected for the inauguration is Mimosa Echard. The artist has merged low-res images taken from one of her first cellphones: selfies, butterflies from the Cevennes placed on a mirror, iridescent reflections of a window… The forced enlargements, the effects of layering, and the tension between nature and technologies all reveal a poetic backdrop and a disturbing image on the façade of the Hôtel des collections. Transparent window decals, a sticker applied on the window of the entrance, gently accompanies the visitors and challenge the glass frontier between the interior and the exterior.
The Cour des fêtes, a flexible city-centre events venue
Finally, the MO.CO. also offers a flexible space which can be transformed at will (artists, students, businesses, charities...). The 640m² Cours des Fêtes, located to the rear of the building, is a fully-fledged events venue, which can be reinvented with MO.CO.’s artistic programming. The Cour des Fêtes can also be fully privatized for corporate customer and/or staff hospitality events in a unique, timeless setting, impregnated with the values of innovation embodied by contemporary art.