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As a young adult, Annabelle Mauger absolutely loved to read. At some point, she realized that her bookcase was using a massive space of her tiny apartment Rue des Rosiers in Paris. More than just a hobby, she decided to make a career out of it, and started studying publishing.
She revealed herself through books. She read detective novels, comics, tales or art books.
Annabelle focuses on the creativity coming out of children’s literature, such as Rose Bombonne or Claude Ponti’s work. She learned how to read between the lines and the power of images.
Till this day, books still play a very important part in Annabelle Mauger’s work.
It is a very powerful tool she uses every day, she likes to cut the pages to make them move and to bring images to life.
In the early 2000s, Annabelle Mauger discovered Cathédrale d’Images in Baux-de-Provence. This place immediately felt familiar to Annabelle Mauger and reminded her of childhood memories. Indeed, when she was just a little girl, she spent her vacations at her grandparents who owned a house/cinema.
She used to fill her pockets with Dinky Toys and hide behind the rolling screen.
The giant white screen and the sounds of the movie playing nourished her imagination. This explains why she instantly loved Cathédrale d’Images. This historical site was founded by Albert and Anne Plécy, Annabelle’s grandparents-in-law. Cathédrale d’Images is the cradle of the very first audiovisual creation in Image Totale © and is now a worldwide institution admired for its immersive exhibitions.
Since discovering Image Totale © and Cathédrale d’Images, Annabelle Mauger has been the proud voice of this legacy. As an independent creative director, Annabelle Mauger travelled the globe with the intention to share, reinvent and develop the grandeur of Cathédrale d’Images and its immersive shows.
Annabelle Mauger always had a strong intellectual curiosity. She learned about the sculpture Le Penseur because she lived rue Auguste Rodin and she got interested in the work of Bernard Buffet because she shared his wife’s name. For Annabelle Mauger, the world is a fertile soil of information that needs to be cultivated.
From her interest in cinema, to her passion for books, all the way to her love story with the concept of Image Totale ©, Annabelle always wanted to learn new things.
As a woman in a man’s world, it is hard to fit in. It seems that Annabelle Mauger had to double her efforts to show what she was worth, even if she could do the work twice faster than others. Thanks to her experience and passion, Annabelle Mauger is not afraid of anything and always tries to achieve the impossible. She works very hard on creating exhibitions that feels like waking dreams.
In 2016, after 11 years of collaboration, Annabelle Mauger and Julien Baron set up lililillilil (an inventive company name in reference to piano keys), to create and promote unique immersive exhibitions. Together, they develop and expand the concept of Image Totale ©.
They explain that they do not exist without one another. They are a unique duo with complementary skills and personalities, which is crucial regarding all the challenges faced with immersive exhibitions.
Finding the ideal location to present their work is never an easy task. In 2017, they were afforded the opportunity to present Imagine Van Gogh in the unique setting of La Grande Halle de la Villette. In this venue, the immersive and unique show came to life. The height, the space, the darkness, everything was united to allow the paintings to fully amaze the audience.
In 2019, the duo created a new immersive exhibition, Imagine Picasso, which opened in Lyon, at La Sucriere.
They keep on working together on new creations to make the impossible come true and amaze us with immersive, unseen, unique exhibitions.
Julien Baron has always been a curious and an all-rounder mind. He had his first audiovisual crush when he discovered the cameras and the workstation of his grandfather, who was a journalist. This was the starting point of all kinds of experimentations around image, sound and multimedia.
Julien Baron’s teenage years were marked by homemade creations, including shorts, animations and slideshows, all made with a camera, cassette recorder and modified VCRs. His passion and his smartness helped him make his audiovisual fantasies come true. Resourceful, he used the (poor) equipment at his disposition and his friends as guest stars to do “In-camera editing” films.
He discovered terminology and developed skills by himself.
Julien Baron studied mathematics, robotic engineering, was interested in web design and got a degree in cinema. He became a projectionist with plenty of experiences, a great curiosity and more than one string on his bow.
While working in Montpellier, he co-created the event “La nuit du cinema amateur”, a unique opportunity for amateurs and movie aficionados to show and see their work in a movie theatre. Fictions, documentaries, all genres were represented. For the occasion, Julien Baron projected anonymously one of his creations to get an objective point of view from his teammates. It was a great success and another proof of his talent and modesty.
Julien Baron used his knowledge in the audiovisual field to enhance Art: music, dance and painting.
In 2004, he created a music video for the song Castorama by electro rock band Marvin. This work was selected by the Festival International des Arts du Clip in the Young Talent category. He renewed the experience in 2010, creating music videos for his brother.
In 2005, he joined Annabelle Mauger’s team at Cathedrale d’Image. In 2008, he helped her directing the very first immersive exhibition about Van Gogh.
His desire to discover the world brought him to Australia and Tokyo. These road trips brought him to meet talented artists, photographers and dancers. In Japan, he worked with the dancer and choreographer Kanishi Sekagawa on a project called Mirror, a “videoconcept” where time and image are reversed.
Back in France, in 2010, Julien Barron worked on shows at Cathédrale d’images, staring the inspiring work of Picasso and Leonard de Vinci.
In 2016, after 11 years of collaboration, Annabelle Mauger and Julien Baron created lililillilil (an inventive company name in reference to piano keys), to create and promote unique immersive exhibitions. Together, they developed and expanded “Image Totale”, a didactic experience that is emotionally powerful to fully amaze the audience.
Julien Baron is very invested in the concept of “Image Totale” and its development. He loves the idea of letting the artwork come out of its frame to embrace the audience. The walls disappear and the public becomes a part of the image (which is very different from his experience with cinema).
In 2017, La Grande Halle de La Villette welcomed Annabelle Mauger and Julien Baron’s latest production, Imagine Van Gogh, the sequel of their first creations at Cathédrale d’Images.
In 2019, the duo created a new immersive exhibition, Imagine Picasso, which opened in Lyon, at La Sucriere.
They keep on working together on new creations to amaze us with immersive, unseen, unique exhibitions.
Annabelle Mauger describes Julien Baron as her Leonardo da Vinci, a poetic way to express the ingenuity and unique approach of this technical artist.
Winner of the Grand Prix National d’Architecture, and recipient of a Gold Medal from the Fondation de l’Académie d’Architecture, Rudy Ricciotti is one of the greatest contemporary architects who designed the MUCEM in Marseille and the Islamic Arts department at the Louvre in Paris. Imagine Picasso is the third project he has undertaken in collaboration with Annabelle Mauger and this is no coincidence. Ricciotti boldly combines the brutality of the structures with the sensuality of the material better than anyone else. It was in this spirit that he previously designed the Cathédrale d’Images Saint-Priest project, in collaboration with Annabelle Mauger, and the renovation of the Chaufferie de l’Antiquaille a few years later.
The staging of the Imagine Picasso exhibition sprang from the story of a decade-long friendship with Annabelle Mauger and Cathédrale d’Images. I’m an architect, not a scenographer. If I had been guided by logic I should have declined this proposal, but a whiff of adventure on an avant-garde path made me throw caution to the wind.
The Imagine Picasso exhibition is not just another commercial regurgitation of a selected accumulation of Picasso’s works. We’ve been there before: the repeated exhibitions of the master’s work have become a commercial product, stamped with the seal of commissioners and insurers… little more than a money-making scheme.
This essential exhibition, conceived by Annabelle Mauger and Julien Baron, does not show a single original Picasso piece. What it does do is demystify the relationship between the work and its price, showing Picasso’s works as a chain of successive experiments rather than just a few links. This is the greatest virtue of an exhibition which showcases the work of a man who has carried out more than 60,000 “experiments”: it shows the sequences, the joints, the jumps, the circular movements of thought. In other words, it shows the journey rather than the destination.
In Carrière des Baux-de-Provence in the 1970s Albert Plécy, a pioneer of removing pictures from their frames, invented the notion of ‘image totale’ and set up the Cathédrale d’Images. He fiddled with his first projectors, found new angles and cleared the caves for the first experiments with gigantic, enveloping and “sculpted” images on the blocks of rock in the belly of the Alpilles mountains. The images were projected at heights of 15 to 17 metres on a single block. The Cathédrale d’Images was constructed from limestone and clay. Then came the sting, the eviction. The Cathédrale was exiled, Annabelle became a migrant with art in tow. I myself have gypsy origins: we met and it was a good match.
The Imagine Picasso exhibition took to the road. Some places were particularly limited in height and the notion of vertical scale (inherent to Les Baux and the roots of Cathedrale d’Images) became obsolete. La Sucrière, the first exhibition venue, had a low ceiling: how could such giant artworks survive in spaces lower than 3.25 metres? The projection of the image for Imagine Picasso would no longer be vertical, the oblique appeared — here I give a nod to my late friend Claude Parent. The sloping projection and inclined supports are a key characteristic of the staging system chosen to maintain the scale of the images. It gives the show a new topography — the image is no longer projected onto the walls, nor on orthogonal planes in a horizontal/vertical direction: the image, still magnified, becomes fleeting in its perception and dynamic in its delivery. Imagine Picasso is a wide-awake wandering in a landscape that comes from a cyclopean bending. The images of Picasso’s works bend, telescope and collide. The brilliant works take their meaning from this telescoping and juxtaposition: Picasso worked not in a linear way, but by going back and forth, by inter-related principles. Each “experiment” he created does not exist specifically as such but rather in relation to a general and gargantuan corpus. The scenography I created is an organic, thrilling disruption. The first thing to remember is that Picasso was an ogre, whose work is deeply driven, carnal, irrigated by sex and death. The very principle of the exhibition Imagine Picasso is perhaps, from a sensory point of view, pictorial and metaphysical, based on the notion of orgy.
Rudy Ricciotti, Grand Prix national d’architecture.
Androula Michael is a historian of modern and contemporary art at the UFR des arts in l’Université de Picardie Jules Verne (France), director of the center of research in art and aesthetics (CRAE) and in charge of international relations.
Specialized in Picasso, she released numerous essays about the artist’s work, including Picasso poète (2008) published by the Ecole nationale supérieure de Paris.
She has also written articles in magazines and exhibition catalogs on Picasso regarding his poetic writing, his ceramic creation in its relationship to Antiquity, his creation process, numbers and mathematics, his relationship to “Orient” and many other topics.
As a member of the International Association of Art Critics (A.I.C.A) and independent curator, Androula Michael has a scientific research approach on curating, dedicated to a wide audience.
She recently organized, curated or co-curated, the following exhibitions: Picasso’s Kitchen (2018), Museu Picasso de Barcelona; Picasso in the Cyprus Museum: Works in clay (2019), archeological Museum of Cyprus, Retours à l’Afrique, Bandjoun Station, Cameroun (2019-2020) and Picasso poet in Museu Picasso de Barcelona, and in Musée national Picasso, Paris (2019-2020).
Her current research focuses, on one hand, on the cross-critical perception of the work of Pablo Picasso and Marcel Duchamp and, on the other hand, on art in the de/ post/ postcolonial context in the arts. She is the academic co-head of the “Picasso Doctorate” program, initiated by the Museu Picasso in Barcelona in collaboration with the Autonomous University of Barcelona. She is the coordinator for the Upjv of the European Open up project and participates in research groups such as MCTM (Caribbean and Transatlantic Worlds on the Move), and “Apagamentos da memória na arte” (Erasures of memory in art) from the Federal University Rio Grande do Sul (Porto Alegre, Brazil).