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Fondation Mast : Inventions


Curated by Luce Lebart in collaboration with Urs Stahel, Inventions opened at the MAST Foundation on October 8th, 2020. Dealing with the aesthetic of prototypes, the exhibition shows photographs of the most ingenious and surprising inventions taken for the collections of Archive of Modern Conflict (London) and Archives Nationales (France).

These many inventions were produced and photographed in France between the two World Wars at the Office of Inventions on the initiative of Jules-Louis Breton, Director of Inventions. Breton, who himself invented a tank and a washing machine, sought to promote scientific and industrial research with the aim of accelerating its processes and guaranteeing the swift transformation of an idea into an object or a machine for ready use, actively favoring the collaboration between manufacturers, scientists and inventors. Images alongside detailed descriptions of inventions facilitated the evaluation of projects and helped track progress. A viable alternative to prototypes, they were easy to keep on file and readily available for presentation to committees.

The exhibition reflects the great diversity of inventions featured in Breton’s archive, ranging from objects used to survive in times of crisis to the gadgets used to live a higher quality of life during peaceful periods. Even if produced without artistic intentions, the photographs have undeniable aesthetic qualities and own what could be defined as a photographic style, comparable to that of an author, even if they aren’t signed. As curator and photography historian Luce Lebart explains “it’s a visual archive that is powerful for its imagination, the humour accents and freedom in unveiling the codes of photographic objectivity. The comical element is even more unexpected since it inserts itself in an industrial and scientific context. Just like in the movies, these photographic scenes narrate stories”.

Luce Lebart is a photography historian, curator and researcher at Archive of Modern Conflict (London).



curated by Luce Lebart

October 8, 2020 – January 3, 2020

Fondazione MAST

Via Speranza, 42 – Bologna, IT 40133

Free Admission by booking only

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