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24.12.10

Annette Messager's Princess-Pine

The town of Saulieu, in the Côte-d'Or region of Burgundy and home to a Romanesque basilica called Saint-Andoche, invited contemporary artist Annette Messager to create a work of public art. As part of the area's Fêtes du Sapin for a few years now, an artist has been invited to decorate a large pine tree in the city square. Generally, the tree has looked like little more than a stylishly decorated Christmas tree, but Messager went a different route, as Philippe Dagen reported (Le sapin "très" éphémère d'Annette Messager, December 23) for Le Monde (my translation):
The pine tree was supposed to be unveiled on December 11. The night before, it was all ready. "I had dressed the pine tree in a sort of gilded princess gown made of emergency isothermal blankets," explained the artist, "and because it was transparent, lighting made it possible to see the tree underneath. It was quite pretty."

Few were able to enjoy it. The work was barely done when, on the night of December 10 to 11, "an enormous cyclone destroyed everything." Ferocious winds tore the covering from the tree, and only a few photographs give witness to what the work would have been. It was to have been on display through January 15, 2011, but lasted only for a few hours. "The princess-pine lived only as long as a waltz," concluded Annette Messager, continuing with good spirits against bad weather, "It is rather pleasing, like some Japanese fairy tale."

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