The Abode of Chaos (La Demeure du Chaos) is amongst France’s most intriguing destinations.
The former 17th century post house, located in Saint-Romain-au-Mont-d’Or (a small town near Lyon), resembles a Mad Max-like apocalyptic war zone, which gives an abysmal look into the future. Locally, it is also a symbol of resistance against a France that never really wants to change.
The sulphurous, cyber-steampunk scenery of this brave new (surveillance) mini-state is the brainchild of Thierry Ehrmann, the provocative eclectic millionaire and founder of Artprice.com (an aggregation website of art prices) who has a penchant for artistic insanity, wine and scarification parties.
With his Demeure, he created a décor where the sacred and de-sacralised seem to co-exist in de-structured harmony.
Ehrmann, the mutant CEO, thinker, sculptor and painter who studied law, theology and psychiatry, has a high-oxygen after-burner powered take on many, many subjects.
Experimenting in graffiti-sprayed steel, plastic and stone, he stages dark, symbolic alchemies through objects, sculptures and other art installations, some rusty, others crushed or molten down. Numerous mural paintings cover whistleblowers, hackers, world leaders and dictators (spot the difference) or terrorists of all kinds. They occupy a world infused with oil, digital artefacts, bunkers, CCTV and drones.
Some might choose to not realise the value of Ehrmann’s work, which is undeniable however de-routing it might be. The Abode’s thought-provoking ambiance does particularly not amuse some locals including a current and former Mayor. The latter once described the place as “humanly intolerable, ugly, dramatic, with its images of destruction. Whatever you think, for me it’s not art, it’s a provocation.” A Public Persecutor called Ehrmann “an intellectual terrorist”.
Though some of the The Abode’s aspects and events like its ‘Borderline Biennale’ might at times bother more than one, art is often, and possibly mostly, provocation. Is art the expression of what keeps our civilisation moving forward? A wake-up call to The Big Sleep of Indifference?
Not surprisingly (true visionaries are often not understood in their own epochs), Ehrmann is entrenched in a number of public lawsuits and legal disputes with neighbours (a well-known but unproductive pastime for some) mainly for urban planning reasons. After loosing some of these battles (his installations have been ruled illegal; he is supposed to revert the 17th century building to its original state; strange, as common logic would suggest it rather idiotic to apply urban planning regulations to works of art) he is now taking his case to the European Court of Human Rights.
In the meantime, in an apparent attempt to save The Abode from KO, he has turned the destination into a museum where hyper-realistic, anticipative art lives in the wild.
Definitely worth visiting. Today’s reality looks more and more like… an Abode of Chaos.
— Words # A.D.