A handbag from Mary Ping's Lafayette Anticipation exhibit


BIDING TIME: One year before the scheduled opening of its new headquarters in Paris, Lafayette Anticipation — the art foundation backed by French retailer Groupe Galeries Lafayette — is hosting a temporary exhibition in a former hardware store in the Marais district.

Set to run until Oct . 23 and titled “Joining Forces With the Unknown,” it features commissioned works by 14 artists and designers and caps the foundation’s three-year pre-opening program.

“This project is the synthesis of three years of prefiguration that allowed us to define as precisely as possible the identity and the tone that we wish to give the project,” said Guillaume Houzé, director of patronage and image at Galeries Lafayette and president of Lafayette Anticipation.

“What you see here is the representation of what tomorrow’s foundation will be,” he added. Lafayette Anticipation is not only an exhibition space but also gives artists, designers and performers the funding to produce their work.

The exhibits are spread out over several floors at the former Weber Métaux store on Rue Debelleyme, in a neighborhood filled with art galleries. The foundation’s permanent building nearby, renovated by Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas’ agency OMA, is scheduled to open in fall of 2017.

Among the participants is Mary Ping, founder of the conceptual clothing and accessory line Slow and Steady Wins the Race. Her exhibit consists of a work table featuring three artisans from Italian leather-goods manufacturer Monteneri working on a handbag.

“She has written variations around more or less well-known bags,” said François Quintin, director of Lafayette Anticipation. “She is performing a variation in the same way that musicians do. At the end, we will have bags that are produced on site permanently and that will be created during the period of the exhibition.”

Lafayette Anticipation also tapped Australian fashion label Perks and Mini, aka P.A.M., to create a publication inspired by the Six magazines published by Comme des Garçons in the late Eighties and early Nineties.

Founders Misha Hollenbach and Shauna Toohey assembled images and text by the likes of Axel Hoedt, Peter Sutherland and Jonas Mekas for the two-volume free magazine, Utopia I and Utopia II, which will be distributed during the exhibition and through stores including Colette, OFR and Comptoir de l’Image.

Volume one was launched during Men’s Fashion Week in Paris in June, and volume two was presented during Paris Fashion Week in September. The duo also collaborated with photographer Camille Vivier on a film about fabric and how it interacts with the environment.

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