Michael Beutler’s amazing paper factory at HAB Galerie

An amazing journey through time is what the “Dive and draw” exhibition by the German visual artist Michael Beutler suggested as part of the Journey to Nantes until September. The artist unveils huge veils of colored paper in situ. An exhibition created with the help of students from the Nantes School of Architecture and Fine Arts.

It is a strange machine sitting in the middle of the HAB Galerie, a building located in the old banana hangar on the island of Nantes, where fruit was stored while the activity in the port still existed.

A triangular shape several meters high and wooden beams. Several people are busy inside and seem to be rowing like in a stranger’s galley.

It’s actually a paper press.

Michael Beutler was invited to the HAB Galerie for a new exhibition and thought of this place as part of the journey to Nantes.

The artist, who lives in Berlin, has set up a large paper mill to dissect all stages of papermaking.

All thanks to machines, which he himself designs and manufactures, and which are activated manually.

As the manufacturing process interests the artist as much as the result, he has assembled a small community of students at art and architecture schools. “ explains Marie Dupas, artistic director of Voyage à Nantes and curator of the Michael Beutler HAB gallery exhibition

They are about fifteen and worked with the artist for a month.

Chloé-Charlotte Maloubier, a student at the School of Architecture in Nantes, is one of these paper apprentices.

We recycle books, big sheets of used paper, we tear them and with the strength of our muscles we make big sheets of them.she explains.

Honestly the first few days we did not have the rhythm, there are lots of little subtleties to know: set wedges, respect the adjustments so gestures are effective

Chloe-Charlotte Maloubier

Student at Nantes School of Architecture

Now that we’ve got it right, it’s really nice because everyone is working in the different positions. ” explains the student from Nantes with a smile.

We make two to three sheets every day, when we see them take shape we are happyshe concludes.

Sibylle Borg, a first-year student at the Nantes School of Fine Arts, explains that “this is quite new, because even though we use a lot of paper daily for our work at Beaux-Arts, we have never made our own paper ourselves“.

It’s super interesting to see everything designed, what is thought of machinesshe adds, proud of this very special third week of internship.

An experience that extends over time, for Sybille as for other students.

During the summer we will be encouraged to reactivate the machines during the exhibition. Afterwards, I will be the facilitator of the Voyage à Nantes exhibitions.

Sibyl Borg

First-year student at Nantes School of Fine Arts

All sheets of paper measure every 6 meters by 2 meters. It is an answer to the volume of the exhibition space according to the artist.

Michael Beutler is German and currently lives in Berlin.

This artist has exhibited all over the world, he works in situ, always in response to the place.

Michael Beutler will analyze the light, the volumes, the architecture, but he is also interested in the history and sociology of the place.


Curator of the exhibition Michael Beutler HAB gallery

The artistic programming director of Voyage à Nantes explains that Michael Beutler “will tell a new story by installing an installation throughout the room

For this he works with rather bad or raw materials like paper, fabric or cardboard.Explains Marie Dupas.

It is a huge paper mill unfolding in the place permeated by the HAB Galerie, one of the old rooms of the Hangar à Bananes, dating from the flourishing period of activity in the port of Nantes.

Around Michael Beutler, the approximately 15 students make up as many apprentices as “papermakers” around the humble master of ceremonies.

We tear the paper, we soften it, we paint it. When crushed, it turns into pulp, which is poured on a frame, which itself holds a large net.

This frame is immersed in water and then the dough is pulled off, giving a sheet.

This sheet is transferred to a large press tableexplains the curator of the appropriately named “Dive and Draw” exhibit

It is pressed several times to dry up as much of the water as possible.“says Marie Dupas,” uOnce pressed, it is transferred to large cardboard tubes to dry

“This whole process takes time, several hours or even days.“concludes the artistic programming manager for The Journey to Nantes.

Once the sheet is dried, its gram weight, texture, weight and shape are realized; the artist will erect them and rest them on the concrete architecture of the exhibition space.

My work is craft. I place great emphasis on tools. If I were a painter, I would focus on the brush and not the canvas

Michael Beutler

visual artist

Since Michael Beutler is also interested in craft techniques, he will design new tools that allow him to manufacture modules, often on a local scale.

These modules he will integrate them with each other to create a new architecture in the architecture of the place where he intervenesConfirms Marie Dupas.

The goal that I pursue through this workshop in the form of time travel is to bring the place back to its industrial past.

Michael Beutler

visual artist

Among his influences, Michael Beutler willingly quotes Daniel Buren, whose rings adorn the quay very close to the Hangar on the banks of the river.

In response from the student to the master, the exhibition “Dive and Draw” is visible all summer at HAB Galerie as part of the Journey to Nantes and then until October.

All details to visit it here.

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