The Centre Pompidou has not forgotten its youngest patrons in its 40th-anniversary celebrations. An interactive exhibition by Studio GGSV introduces kids to four decades of art and design forms, which they are invited to reconstruct and remix in a fantastical garden.

The forms are based on elements from the Pompidou's collection. The accompanying narrative of the exhibition reveals that these distorted and appropriated forms, colours and textures are the observations of two small characters who have been living in the museum for years, without always understanding the works of art. Named Gellaé & Séphante, these dilettants are based on Gaëlle Gabillet and Stéphane Villard of the Paris-based Studio GGSV, which explains its work:

“Our work ranges from concrete proposals to manifestos. We are looking for forms that offer different interpretations. Matter is at the heart of our concerns. Our production tackles a contradiction... We imagine more objects to make less objects.”

Gabillet and Villard have also invited Liu Bolin, famously known as "the Invisible Man", for an opening performance on September 9, whereafter costumes will be added to the elements children can play with until January 8. French artist Morgane Tschiember, renowned for her multidimensional sculptures, will thereafter transform the space into another architectural and narrative dimension from January 20 until March 5. Gabillet and Villard spoke to DAMN about bringing out their inner child:

Inside the Galeroom. Photo: Studio GGSV
DAMN: Why did you decide to create a space for children?

GGSV: In fact, the Centre Pompidou asked us to imagine an exhibition for children. We accepted with pleasure, because it is a great occasion to create a space where anyone can build things by playing with shape associations. We like to see children and parents giving sense to all the figurative, abstract and symbolic shapes, patterns and materials. This art vocabulary belongs to them. Art is culture, but it is also a heritage that children can transform and react to in their own way.

Photo: Studio GGSV
Photo: Studio GGSV
Are there any regulations or rules?

The children are free to use, take and move the shapes. We created the space for children of all characters and ages. The main idea is a game in which you cannot fail. Instead of explaining design or art, we have chosen to give them the possibility to experiment with the same pleasure that an artist experiences during a creative process.

To what extent can grown-up visitors participate?

Adults usually start taking part in the game by helping children to build things, but very quickly make their own creations. There are also different levels of interpretation: The various forms refer to the works of René Magritte, Ettore Sottsass, Sol LeWitt, Salvador Dali and other artists. Adults can read this, but children don’t need these references in order to play.

In this garden, a strange house stands. Photo: Michel Giesbrecht
A large inflatable structure – the Galeroom – springs from its chimney, as a nod to the architectural event that the Pompidou Centre provoked in 1977. Photo: Studio GGSV
It is said that this house was built by two small characters, Gellaé & Séphante, who have been living for years in the twists and turns of the Pompidou Centre. Photo: Michel Giesbrecht.
The blue pipes seem be diverted to blossom into a joyous rotunda that becomes the theatre of a collection of unusual objects. Photo: Studio GGSV
The house and fountain is their workshop and laboratory. Photo: Studio GGSV
On the floor of the Galeroom, a mysterious fountain produces coloured shapes that the two little characters assemble to create their own world. Photo: Michel Giesbrecht
The forms produced by the fountain are displayed in the garden. Children are invited to use this funny collection to compose all the totems, vessels, furniture, constructions, machines and thingummies that the imagination can reveal. The principle is simple: all forms can combine and assemble. Photo: Studio GGSV
This formal alphabet draws its inspiration from the visual arts, nature, architecture, design and everyday life. The ranges are figurative, functional and symbolic. Photo: Studio GGSV
The floor is a vast graphic playground, organized around a central sculpture that looks like a birthday cake. Different zones suggest interactions between 2D and 3D. Photo: Michel Giesbrecht
Sometimes landscaped scenery, sometimes graphic framework, the patterns produce playful perspectives. They flirt with trompe l'œil and awaken perception. Photo: Michel Giesbrecht