In September 2016, the traveling exhibition “L’Arche de Noé Racontée par Van Cleef & Arpels” debuted inside the Hôtel d’Évreux at Place Vendôme. Visitors could admire the High Jewelry collection of the same name: animals made of gold, hard and precious stones, shining two by two amid a decor by Robert Wilson. The exhibition has since traveled the world, stopping in New York, Hong Kong, Shanghai and Seoul. Robert Wilson, a U.S.-based director famous for his work on light, designed an installation that reinterprets the legend of Noah’s Ark.
In a pitch-dark room, the animal clips appear inside lighted showcases while a video projected on the walls suggests flowing water, all accompanied by Arvo Pärt’s enveloping music “Spiegel im Spiegel.” Robert Wilson’s decor lets visitors experience the great flood on an immersive, sensory level, from the darkening sky streaked with lightning, through the eye of the storm, and onto the newfound calm as the wind and rain finally die down.
“I have always been fascinated by childhood, literature and the animal world,” he explains. “I would call this decor an experience (...), an abstract reading of a tale that lets us embrace it anew without becoming trapped within the context. This sensory panorama is also a musical landscape, a serene and poetic environment that brings back the emotions of our childhood, the delicious pleasure of stories.”
“This decor creates a mysterious yet gentle backdrop for our collection, touching on a universe as close to the world of Robert Wilson as it is to our own world,” said Nicolas Bos, President and CEO of Van Cleef & Arpels. “Through this symbolism, it presents one of the great legends of our culture under a whole new angle. His work on light, perspective and the element of surprise also shapes visions of the 60 animal couples we designed, always with the same focus on simplicity and poetry.”