Art. History.

A sanctuary, prison and cultural center: The Fontevraud Abbey as video art

First a religious space, then a Napoleonic jail, and now the hub of culture: Turning the monastery into modern art


Drew Grant
April 7, 2011 7:08PM (UTC)

If you are ever in France, check out the Fontevraud Abbey, a gigantic monastery created in 1100 by a preacher trying to create a new world order. In this sanctuary, women were appointed leaders of the order, a pretty contemporary view considering the times.

During the French Revolution the order was dissolved, and by 1804, was turned into a prison. Then, in 1975, it became a cultural center. Go figure.

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I guess the real question is, how do you get young people interested in a building that is older than the entire country of America? The abbey has asked young artists to "reappropriate" the building for a contemporary audience. I think Francis Cutter & Vincent Nguyen from the video "Welcome to the Fontevraud" have done a pretty amazing job.

I love how this video has that techno "Run Lola Run" quality to it that can almost make you forget how many bodies are buried in the building.

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Drew Grant

Drew Grant is a staff writer for Salon. Follow her on Twitter at @videodrew.

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