As part of the conversion of the esplanade in front of the offices of the Direction Départementale du Service Départemental d'Incendie et de Secours de l'Orne, the chairman of the board and the director wished to go beyond strictly functional aspects, to envisage the creation of a symbolic place that could represent the identity of this public service (i.e. fire brigade and emergency aid) and host traditional commemorative ceremonies.
The layout and the work, designed for the site, draw on its particularities and are arranged between the outside space, that of ceremonies and commemorations, and the internal space of the building. Occupying this interstice, Tapis is a place of passage and interaction, facing the main entrance. The work consists of two ponds crossed by a wooden footbridge partly covered with duckboards where boxes of plants and small translucent structures fit together. As with a carpet, the composition has a central part occupied by a stretch of water that captures all the surrounding movements, and a peripheral frieze. The latter is composed of a geometric motif whose rhythm, alternating the fullness of islands of greenery and the emptiness of the gap in the metallic frame, is interrupted by the emergence of the structures. These volumes, lit up after dark, strengthen the idea of a miniaturized city. A series of letters inscribed just above the waterline form the words: "cours", "secours" and "courses" ("course", "rescue", and "races"), relating to the functions of the site and its occupants' activities. A curtain of water from the upper pond flows over into the lower pond. The scale of the various elements that make up the work varies from life-size to that of a small model. Passing the ponds, everyone discovers two distinct spaces: the one that is physically traversed, and the one that is mentally represented, a sort of imaginary landscape or geography, as the curbs that finish off the top part of the frieze suggest. In its consecrated form, the carpet conveys signs, an abstract representation of the world. While inspired by this traditional symbolism, Bernard Calet's Tapis, contrary to the inertia of the woven motifs, proposes a space continuously animated by daily movement, the effects of light and reflection, and the sound of the waterfall: all energetic flows that metaphorically reflect an image of the contemporary world. Publication: Bernard Calet, Tapis, 2003, 4 pages.
Bernard Calet was born in 1958 in Charenton. He lives and works in Tours and Angers. From the late 1980s his work was characterized by the appropriation of architectural elements often associated with the notions of passage and movement (door, staircase, etc.). Photography enabled him to perform this appropriation as an essential preliminary to the creation of a system of mirrors in which the place of monstration and the viewer are reflected, thus establishing a set of complex relations between various elements, with a view to "making images". In the early 1990s, a series based on show houses (architectures of representation) then introduced a social dimension into his work. The nomadic habitat (Mobile Home/Image series) provided continuity between these themes, condensing movement, architecture and images: three instances that one also finds at the end of the 1990s in the Houses/TV series (the artist's creation of architectural models including a television), where the presence of the electronic flow complicates the mobility of the meaning assigned to this work. Movement, condensation, mixing: it is our image, through its relation to habitat, which is thus examined, in a quest – perhaps a futile one – to grasp its reflection. Calet's installations are characterized by their lightness and their delicate nature; they present themselves to the viewer, devoid of all arrogance.