4th edition of the show created by Skertzò
December 12th– 30th 2015 except December, 24th
La Cathédrale Infinie – the Infinite Cathedral – is not just a show, it is also a living piece of work which now forms part of the heritage of Beauvais. It pays tribute to the generations of builders who laboured on the Cathedral of Saint Peter from 1225, but also and more generally for the generations of inhabitants who built the town’s identity.
Hélène Richard and Jean-Michel Quesne, the designers of Skertzò, like to describe themselves as “purveyors”. The story that they are bringing to Beauvais on the south pediment of the cathedral is written in lights, animated images, music and song in the form of an epic poem, an extraordinary dream.
In homage to the professions of the tapestry industry, the southern pediment of the cathedral is transformed into a loom, on which images are projected, the representation gradually emerging with each passage of the shuttle. The weft threads reveal the story of the cathedral and the city, according to the tapestry entitled “L’Histoire fabuleuse des Gaules” (the Fabulous History of Gaul”).
The architecture is transformed into a sensitive skin, a receptacle of the centuries written in the lacework of stone. It is the highest Gothic cathedral in the Christian world ! Twice, the unbridled ambitions of the order-givers resulted in disaster. In 1284, the vaults and walls of the chancel partially caved in, and then almost two centuries later on Ascension Day in 1573, the huge 110 metres high spire collapsed. Nevertheless, for around twenty years, the cathedral of Saint Peter was indeed the highest in the Christian world. These desires for grandeur were embodied in the unimaginable height of the vault, peaking at some 48 metres but also that of the southern pediment, soaring 65 metres into the sky from the front steps.
A masterpiece of Renaissance religious architecture, an infinite cathedral for having wanted to touch the stars and made unusual by the absence of a nave, this pure jewel of religious architecture reveals all its secrets through the magic of the show. The niches whose statues were destroyed during the French Revolution, are occupied once again with living statues whose songs ring out as if borne on the wings of angels. As the light-show changes, the eye is drawn to discover the richness of the sculpted casements, the delicateness of the slender columns, the finesse of the fleur-de-lys friezes.
It has seen fires and wars and yet these dark periods have never extinguished the light revealed by the stained glasses created by generations of master-glassmakers belonging to the Leprince family. There is a pure moment of grace when the Arbre de Jessé, a work by Engrand Leprince, transposed from the Saint-Etienne de Beauvais church, is shown in all the splendour of its original polychromy, with its luxurious leaves bearing fruits and crests, symbols of a mythological genealogy, an alliance of the gods and the divine power.
In 2012, when Beauvais was awarded the prestigious Ville d’art et d’histoire label, the Infinite Cathedral show was starting its first season. Since then, some 130,000 spectators have watched this poetic and light-filled narration as proposed by Skertzò.