4 June 2014
DMC factory second life…
As readers of Plume Voyage, you will know that we always endeavor to inform you of the latest trends and places we think you should know about before everyone else. This week, we invite you to discover a place that is still a secret for now but certainly won’t be for long. Over the past few months a group of artists that go by the name of Motoco have been reviving the old DMC factories that lie near Mulhouse, in Alsace. We are certain that in the next few years, the “off-site” of the famous contemporary art fair Art Basel – which takes place every June in the nearby city of Basel – will happen here. So be ahead of the world and follow us to the discovery of a post-industrial hidden gem that is just waiting for its time to shine!
For years, the beautiful red brick buildings on the site of the DMC mills had not encountered a soul. Abandoned to their fate, they were doomed to become a wasteland of overgrown weeds, squats, abandoned and eventually destroyed due to unsanitary conditions. The public authorities of the town of Mulhouse did not seem to make much of the architectural and historical heritage of this city, despite the fact that it has always been a proudly industrial town. Fortunately, this unfavorable scenario, too often seen elsewhere, seems to have been definitively avoided. This is due in large part to the action of a small band of artists and creators who found an incredible plot of land to preserve here. Grouped under the umbrella head of the Motoco Association (short for, hopefully, a prophetic “more to come”!) they settled into one of the buildings, No. 75.
Now, it is hard to believe that it has been barely one short year that they have been here, where they have had the freedom and ease to express themselves in total liberty. Amongst the residents of this unique venue there are visual artists, painters, as well as fashion designers, graphic designers, computer technicians…There is even a free radio station that broadcasts on the Internet.
Access to the site is open to visitors on the first Sunday of each month for an open day, where curious guests can discover workshops and attend performances. But Motoco only occupies a tiny part of the 100,000 m2 of the available factory space dispersed throughout the site. And if, right now, wandering around the site gives one the feeling that you might be the only remaining human living in the city after the end of the world, this should not be the case for very long.
Under the leadership of Mischa Schaub, the founder of the Swiss Institute of post-industrial design HyperWerk and the residents of Motoco, a vast project to rehabilitate the whole area is on track. The aim of the Open Park Project is to eventually designate a particular activity to each abandoned building. For example, OpenFab is opening the “fab labs”, a group of laboratories with a twist in which the start-ups of today are experimenting with the techniques and products of tomorrow.
Another building will be converted into an audio-visual studio and there has even been a draft to build a post-industrial amusement park to make an entirely new type of fairground! There is also an arty “zero star” hotel and a restaurant with a bar in the old refectory of the factories.
At DMC Mulhouse, there is no shortage of ideas to revive theses splendid buildings that were built at the beginning of the last century, safely in the hands of a creative and dynamic community. No doubt this area of endless possibilities will soon be a playground for exhibitors, galleries and international artists who flock every June to Art Basel (from 19 to 22 June this year), in the Swiss city of Basel, which is only twenty minutes away from Mulhouse.
But before DMC Mulhouse becomes the place to be seen and where the wildest parties go down, we urge you to check it out now, to experience it in its original form. And don’t forget that it was Plume Voyage who, before anyone else, whispered in your ear about the art world’s most remarkable, best kept secret…