On August 4, 1821, Louis Vuitton was born into a modest family in the Jura, a region in the far east of France. At the age of fourteen, he decides to leave his hometown of Anchay to walk to Paris. After two years of traveling, he arrives in the capital and learns his craft under the famous trunk maker Romain Maréchal. In 1854, he founds his brand and gives it his own name, both would quickly become famous. His successors continue his legacy. Louis Vuitton becomes a French brand admired around the world. To celebrate the two hundredth birthday of its founder, Louis Vuitton has commissioned a novel by Caroline Bongrand, a video game, and trunks transformed into works of art, all under the title of ‘Louis 200’.
A 100x50X50 cm chest
Louis Vuitton has given carte blanche to two hundred creative people from all walks of life (artists, writers, curators, dancers, drag queens, architects, etc.) to revisit the emblematic trunk, a de facto symbol of the house. Each of them received a box the same size as the trunk created by Louis Vuitton in the 1850s: 100x50X50 cm. They are to decorate it their own way.
Among those working their magic are Gloria Steinem, Lego, Nigo, Sou Fujimoto or Frank Gehry. Louis Vuitton pledged to donate 10,000 Euros in the name of each participant to 15 non-profit organizations which help to promote access to art and creativity among young people. Here is the trunk created by Lebanese artist Zad Moultaka, the only Arab among the 200 chosen artists, and it has a great story.
We know him as a musician, but Zad Moultaka is above all a researcher, an adventurer of the mind, an explorer of the frontiers of reality, someone never at ease in a comfort zone. Navigator of time, history, intelligence, and human emotion, he brings back from his cerebral journeys elements that take on new meanings in the present. In 2017 he created Samas, an installation, combining sound composition and visual architecture, and the project is selected to be the Lebanese Pavilion at the 57th Venice Biennale.
In March 2021, Moultaka’s opera, Hémon, is presented at the Opéra national du Rhin. Louis Vuitton’s commissioners in charge of the ‘Louis 200’ operation are among the audience. Soon after, they commission Moultaka to design one of the 200 trunks that will adorn the showcases of the famous luxury house for the anniversary of its founder.
The trunk, the trip, and Louis’ eyes
A little confused upon receiving the precious “open letter” sent by the Louis Vuitton community to the “Visionaries of the future”, Moultaka will ask to visit the workshops, the museum, and Vuitton’s family home in Asnières in search of inspiration. Under the delicate Art Nouveau paneling of the living room, he explores the objects on display, particularly a piano, but nothing really jumps out at him. It’s when he discovers a portrait of the founder that his idea takes shape. The shape of the trunk sends the creator back to his own childhood, to the “vision chest”, of a fairground that charged a few cents for the right to discover, through a lens, images of the world that he spun on a cylinder.
For Moultaka, the equation is simple: the trunk is the journey, and the journey is what you see. He then decides to replicate ad infinitum, in a sort of geometric mise en abyme, resolutely Op’art, a sepia shot of the eyes of Louis Vuitton that will dress his “Trunk of Wonder”, which is pierced with two holes, you can look inside. In the darkness of the interior, a mechanism activates an abstract film in which one can discover, lit by the light of dawn or dusk, a landscape of moving dunes made from crumpled fabrics and the clothes of travelers, filmed in close-up. This dreamlike show is enhanced by music, whispers, the sound of wind, and mechanical noises. Then, when you open the trunk, a childish melody is triggered and transforms everything into an innocent music box.
Through a chest turned into a work of art in its own right, one can then imagine the dawn of a new world through the gaze of a contemporary creator and musician and through the eyes of a visionary of a different kind, one who transformed travel into fine art.
Moultaka’s trunk, like the other trunks in this exclusive series, will, in turn, decorate the windows of the house’s emblematic stores across Paris, London, Milan, and those of its primary addresses in L.A., New York, Dubai, China, South Korea and Japan. The trunks began their tour of LV showcases on August 4, 2021.