The Undertaking (L’Antre-Prise)

Paris, France, 1992

Palais de Chaillot
Presented by Les Arts Etonnants
Funded by The French Ministry of Culture, Tourcoing la Creative
Sound composed by Graeme Miller and David Coulter

The second series of Les Arts Etonnants involving installations by Ackroyd & Harvey, Stephen Taylor Woodrow, Stiftung Blindenanstalt.

Ackroyd & Harvey occupied a series of underground corridors and chambers beneath The National Theatre of the Palais du Chaillot, Paris, for a six week period in the summer of 1992. A closed metal door sealed the corridors from the warren of mined stone passageways laced underneath Paris, eventually connecting with the catacombs which houses thousands of skeletons from the early city’s graveyards.

Themes of growth, decay, death and transcendence were richly evoked through a series of dramatic installations in chambers leading off from the long, narrow grass passages. The audience moved through the planted passageways, down a series of steps into a flooded corridor with a grass stairway leading off it, up another flight of stairs into a narrow, ledged room with a gathering of ten figures cast entirely from roots of grass. The first chamber encountered was completely flooded, a solitary figure floating above it, visible only through the reflection of a mirror. The second chamber resembled a private library erupting with fungus and stacks of books in the process of sprouting grass. The third chamber was planted with a field of ripened barley, which was slowly being stripped away by thousands of locusts.