Les Bains-Douches, Paris - Urban artists run wild in the shell of the former Bains Guerbois,latterly Les Bains nightclub: once Parisian honeypot to the international A-list.
After its conversion in 1978 from a Turkish and Russian-inspired bathhouse to a concert hall, discotheque, bar and all-night restaurant, Les Bains was (apparently) one of the chicest and most bohemian venues on the map, a favourite with artists, designers, musicians and beautiful people from around the world. Kate Moss, Johnny Depp, Grace Jones, Yves Saint-Laurent, Andy Warhol, Catherine Deneuve, Mick Jagger, and David Bowie: the list goes on.
But in 2010 the venue was shut down by the Préfecture de Police de Paris, after it was discovered unauthorised structural work had taken place, and the building was judged to be unsafe. The current restoration is being coordinated by Jean-Pierre Marois, head of the Société des Bains: an organisation established to save the former music and art-house in central Paris from being permanently erased from the French capital’s landscape.
However, if a phoenix is to one day rise from the architectural ashes of the famous nightspot on the Rive Droite, the current goings-on in the building located just around the corner from the Centre de Pompidou are certainly occurring deep within the (metaphorically) smouldering embers.
The plan is for the 128 year-old venue to reopen in 2014 – as apartments, a nightclub, a gallery? - but in the meantime a plethora of internationally-renowned urban artists have been commissioned by gallery-owner Magda Danysz to treat the derelict nightclub as a blank canvas. The artists have been given free rein to try and recapture the energy of Les Bains, using materials drawn from the building itself. By the looks of it, the ancient bathhouse – or its crumbling frame at least – doesn’t seem to have lost any of its magical aura: some of the installations produced by the latest generation of creatives are magnificent.
For more photographs and information, go to http://www.lesbains-paris.com/