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Simon Boudvin at the Maroquinerie des Ardennes

Artist's residency 2010

In 2010, the Fondation d'entreprise Hermès forged links between craftsmanship and contemporary art, with four residencies for French-speaking artists in each of the Hermès workshops. Mentored by artist Giuseppe Penone, Simon Boudvin collaborated with leather-workers in Bogny-sur-Meuse.

Fondation d'Entreprise Hermès - Simon Boudvin at the Maroquinerie des Ardennes
© Tadzio

Artist and architect Simon Boudvin graduated from the Beaux-Arts in Paris and the École Nationale Supérieure d'Architecture in 2003. Using montage, installations, photography and interventions in situ, his work focuses on the imprint of man working with natural materials.

At the Maroquinerie des Ardennes (in Bogny-sur-Meuse), Boudvin discovered the many skills and trades connected with the working of fine skins and leathers. Installed at a table in the heart of the workshops, Boudvin immersed himself in the artisan's individual stories, and the collective history of their trades, closely linked to the industrial history of the Ardennes as a whole. Their discussions led him to the ruined slate works at Rimogne, a few kilometers from the leather workshops, where he carried out an archaeological, historical and sociological study, based on detailed topographical charts.

At the same time, he commissioned a desk made to measure by a local cabinet-maker, and had it clad entirely in leather. Reworking the leather offcuts, he explored the voids and forms created by the cutting process, rolling the pieces in on themselves to create abstract forms which were used as molds for plaster models. The models – vestiges of the original cut-outs – were then assembled like ornaments on the leather-clad desk.

The resulting installation explores the nature of the support in art, and the skills required to create abstract volumes evoking the spectral forms of the leather off-cuts.

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Immersion: two weeks in July 2010
Production: visits of several days between September and October 2010