Culture is future » Territorial attractiveness and social cohesion


Always further - When a circulating exhibition recreates an imaginary world

A contribution of the University of Avignon

Artists’ retrospectives are the subject of innumerable thematic exhibitions in many museums throughout the world, enlightening the public on major lines of artistic creation. These places temporarily dedicated to the career of a contemporary artist, let us see a certain attractivity from the public. If « The Art of Tim Burton », which is the subject of an itinerant exhibition created by the MoMa in 2009, achieves great success, it is because Tim Burton has built an imaginary realm renowned all over the world. The scenography of the exhibition helps recreating Tim Burton’s imaginative world by mixing his artistic creations in different fields: drawings, photos, videos, tracks, and also costumes, all of them revealing the diversity of his artistic talent, often unknown by the public.

            Thanks to Tim Burton’s collaborations with Disney Studios and Hollywood, his work is well integrated into the cinematographic market. Strongly related to the blockbuster industry (with movies like Batman), Tim has found a way to create a singular image in fantastic cinema. His creatures terrifying and tender at the same time, have accompanied several generations and this intimate link creates a huge identification to Burton's universe. The places of exhibitions are playing on this relationship in order to push further the public experience with Burton’s working arts. Spin-off products, beyond the commercial logic and economic balance, allow a symbolic contact between the artist and his public. The itinerant exhibition which will end in Paris within the Cinémathèque, sells a catalogue illustrated with 1.000 pictures of his creations, and numerous essays and testimonies. This promotional action represents additional incomes in the benefit of the Cinémathèque’s activities.

            This exhibition which takes place from March 7th to August 5th 2012, is considered as original to its organizers, because a contemporary film maker is rarely the subject of a retrospective. The Cinémathèque’s space has been rearranged under a particular angle since different thematics are suggested to the public. Beginning with Tim Burton’s childhood in Burbank (California) and his formation in CalArts (a school forming Walt Disney’s illustrators), and ending with his collaborations with Disney Studios and Hollywood, the audience’s journey is a chronological trip through Burton's life and intimacy. Mostly coming from archives, sketches and preparatory notes of each movie are exposed to the public eyes. His works emerge from obscurity and help to demystify his imaginary world. So the audience can have an idea of what his creation process is and understand the way the ideas were born before producing a result, the movie.

            This public gathers around the same passion, movies in general, and Tim Burton’s movies in particular, and shares sensitivity about his universe. This retrospective isn't limited to the Cinémathèque, it is also the subject of numerous reactions on Internet which prove the existence of a burtonian community. For example, the trailer of the exhibition, conceived by Tim Burton, has been sceen 160.000 times on Dailymotion. Another example: iTunes proposes to net surfers to download his movies, original soundtracks… Even social networks contribute to fans discussions and that way, Tim Burton’s experience continues both  in real world and in virtual world.

Camille Michel

M1 Publics de la culture et communication - Université d'Avignon et des Pays de Vaucluse

Photo: Design from Paris