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Artists in the old refridgerating warehouse


1.jpgOn Friday you read in the metro that during the weekend of May 25th and 26th old refridgerating warehouse, as the Parisians call them „les Frigos“, open the doors to the public and on Saturday afternoon you are among many other curious visitors in the old building in the Bercy quarter by the modern library of F. Mitterand.

You will immediately understand why all the visitors are equipped with cameras, why there are many young girls with perfect make-up an2.jpgd lovers with prepared poses to be caught in the picture. This faded building from 1920 attracts by its inside world of artists, is full of art studios, where paintings, sculptures, modern art are full of colours, brushes and ideas. Corridors, wall and spiral stair-case debauch with colours and ideas with no limitations.

Let’s get more familiar with this place, which could resemble to a haunted cast3.jpgle if it was emptied from people. Today the luminous interesting rooms on several floors are rented to the artists. 20 years ago there was a danger that the building would be destroyed but it was saved thanks to the mobilization of the tenants.  

The price of the rent varies between 500 and 2500 EUR monthly. Sculptors, paintors, events organizers, publishers, photographers, craftmen, ceramics producers... they all want to stay together here as simple tenants and not to be covered by some cultural institution. And so even today the petitions are being signed. 200 people coexist in this original workplace.

The premises of the building are colourful, with a little of erotics in their wall paintings, many funny, witty and original inscriptions, such as „if you are not ready, do not enter“, or „do you enter because the door is open or because you have decided to enter?“ Above one win5.jpgdow you read „maybe it is an idea of an opening to the world“, and on the wall „there is an uncertainty above the city“.

During the days open to the public the artists offer their works for sale and so many visitors leave with original gifts or a new design item to their homes. Many artists offer a refreshment to the visitors.

While walking through the premises of the „fridges“ (Les Frigos) the imagination of the history of this place is fascinating. After the 1914-1918 World War we are on the left4.jpg bank of the Seine river, three kilometers from Notre-Dame. On the opposite river bank there are the warehouses of the Bercy quarter. Paris awakens after a difficult war and needs to supply the „belly of Paris“, the market „Les Halles“ with the fresh products. And so in 1921 appears a refridgerating station Paris-Ivry. During the time of its operation, the trains enter directly to the building. A lot of rusted pipe ducts which you will notice in the corridors, witness that in the past the building was a huge refridgerator. The equipments produced ice, rails on the ceilings were a6.jpg continuation of the railway and transported the supplies to the warehouses. A disappearance of the „Halles“ at the end of the 60-ies and opening of a market place in Rungis were a reason to stop the activity of the refridgerating warehouse, which were abandoned from 1971 for the period of 15 years.

The railway company SNCF, owner of the building from 1945, in 1980 enabled to the first 15 tenants to settle in the premises and that was the beginning of the arrival of artists. Iron concrete, black bricks, cork, again bricks, again cork, again concrete... The walls,70 cm wide, have a very good thermical and sonor isolation. Windows were made, new wall separations created, important works of the water, electricity installation carried out, sanitary rooms, heating, ventilation, canalization put under the floor, the floor can hold 7 tons weight per square meter. A lot of work which cannot be forgotten and just wiped out.
It is not a haunted castle, but a unique kingdom of human work and skills.
© M.D.D., Paristep
Source of information from history: les-frigos.com