Art Installation Turns Asphalt Green
Last fall, public artist Gaëlle Villedary granted the tiny French village of Jaujac a carpet worthy of an enchanted kingdom. Traversing nearly 1,400 feet, the grass path wended its way across cobblestone, passageways, and central public spaces, toward the village’s limits and the green valleys beyond.
Named “Tapis Rouge!” (Red Carpet!), the installation was created in celebration of a decade of art and nature programs in the village. The artist, who hails from Marseille, tends to work with a wide variety of materials, from light bulbs to coffee on corrugated cardboard. The 3.5 ton path was her largest undertaking to date. With it, she hoped to create a “resurgence of life over the asphalt,” so she was pleased by the atmosphere of adventure that took hold once the carpet unfurled.
“Aside from a few skeptics, the villagers were delighted to discover their village with a new look,” Villedary said. “Most of them walked on it — obviously children, but the adults too. They tread on the carpet, played games on it, sat on it for a little bit to talk about the weather. I even met someone who decided to enjoy it down to the roots; she took off her shoes during the walk. It was a magical moment when the public took possession of the work.”
Villedary noted that the project was, by its nature, fleeting. “Rolled sod needs to be planted quickly to survive,” she said, “so it was quite an ephemeral installation." Still, she felt that what she set out to achieve — “a link between the heart of the village and its inhabitants, and the valley surrounding them” — was accomplished. Whether villagers wandered down the path, not knowing where it might lead, or took off their shoes to feel the blades of grass against their bare feet, the carpet forged what Villedary calls a “communion between Nature and Man, through Art.”
--Jenny Slattery / photos by David Monjou
See more photos below.