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HAPPENINGText: Valerie Douniaux

Collective Folie is a gigantic wooden tower born from the imagination of renowned Japanese artist Tadashi Kawamata (1953-). A former professor at Tokyo University of Fine Arts, Tadashi Kawamata is now teaching at Paris National Superior School of Fine Arts and has taken part in the most important international art events (Venice Biennale, Dokumenta…), as an artist or as an artistic director. He is famous all over the world for his precarious looking installations, ephemeral structures that always seem on the brink of collapsing, suspended between construction and destruction. Following participative and sustainable principles, these works take their immediate environment into consideration and they clearly express the artist’s wish to break the boundaries of art, in order to explore and merge the fields of architecture, urbanism, movement, communication, sociology or history.

Collective Folie by Tadashi Kawamata

Like a living organism, this new Parisian creation of Tadashi Kawamata will grow on a prairie, in the Parisian park of La Villette, until the end of July 2013, attaining the maximum height of 21 meters. The installation will then be progressively deconstructed, until the end of August. The materials of the eco-friendly tower are certified and come from forests farmed following the rules of sustainable development. When taken down, the beams will be given to the Emmaüs Gironde association, which will take charge of the recycling of the wood.


Opened to visitors since the 1st of June, the tower allows from its higher level a new vision of the grounds of La Villette and of its surroundings. Always changing, this work in progress is the result of the joint efforts of the audience and of the artist and his team, led in a peaceful and friendly atmosphere.


For, as its name implies, this Collective Folie is a group work, uniting children, youth and adults, curious visitors and art and architecture lovers. The second term of the title, folie (folly), is a reference to a type of extravagant and often symbolic decorative architecture, quite popular in French and English gardens during the 18th century. In La Villette too, several follies adorn the park. These permanent structures of red enamelled steel, created by La Villette’s architect Bernard Tschumi, support different cultural and leisure activities, and they now find in Kawamata’s tower a surprising echo, a both energetic and fragile looking reflection, made of soft coloured natural materials. The Collective Folie somehow appears like a negative image of the bright metallic constructions but, far from being in conflict with each others, the follies seem engaged in a silent yet fruitful conversation.

A Collective Folie by Tadashi Kawamata
Date: April 17th – August 25th, 2013 
Place: Parc de La Villette
Address: 211 avenue Jean Jaurès, 75019 Paris
Tel: +33 (0)1 4003 7575

Text: Valerie Douniaux
Translation: Takuji Shimmura
Photos: Valerie Douniaux

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