French artist Roland Cognet discussing his project for a shelter in which conditions are optimal to experience sound (all images courtesy Alun Williams)

It seems idyllic: a cluster of artist-designed shelters lining a river by an old flour mill in pastoral Brittany, France. This vision of a creative retreat is one that is close to being realized, although they’re angling for an extra push to get them there.

The Kickstarter for Artist Designed Spaces for Thinking, or Minoterie21 (“minoterie” is the French word for flour mill), is compensating for the recent austerity cuts in France affecting culture spending — they’ve received some funding from the Ministry of Culture and the National Foundation for Graphic and Visual Arts, but it is not enough to launch the project. With the proceeds from the Kickstarter they’re planning to start construction on the first two shelters in August and September.

Model for a shelter by Ye-Eun Min using recycled furniture as a construction material

As Alun Williams explained to Hyperallergic: “We realized that funding from the institutions for our project was going to be symbolic, so we needed a different model, and Kickstarter seemed like a good option to do just that.”

Williams is director of Parker’s Box in Brooklyn and works with both Triangle Arts Association in New York and in Marseille in France.

“Much of this came out of my work setting up artists’ residency and exhibition programs [in France] — especially as a founder with my French wife, artist, Claire Lesteven of Triangle France in Marseille, a sister program to the Triangle Arts Association in New York of which I am currently Chair,” he said. “The Brittany project is to become part of the Triangle Network.”

While previous Triangle projects have focused on residencies and exhibitions, this is all about retreats, giving not just artists but any thinkers and creatives some cloistered time. For example, Roland Cognet has a project that would create a shelter that highlights the experience of sound, while Ye-Eun Min’s shelter is formed from a heap of recycled furniture. Williams stated that picking artists to design the shelters, rather than, say, architects, is “about catering for well-being, both aesthetic and spatial,” and would have the cyclical effect of creating a shelter that was as much an art piece as a temporary home, that would in turn impact the creative output of the person who spent time in it. Or just guide their solitary daydreaming out in the French countryside. 

Minoterie21 scenery

Artist Designed Spaces for Thinking (Minoterie21) is funding through August 11 on Kickstarter. 

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Allison Meier

Allison C. Meier is a former staff writer for Hyperallergic. Originally from Oklahoma, she has been covering visual culture and overlooked history for print...