“Magiciens de la terre” in Paris

Centre Georges Pompidou and the Grande Halle


According to the Great Encyclopedia, the first museum in the modern sense of the word (meaning the first public collection) was founded in France by the Convention of July 27, 1793. The origin of the modern museum is thus linked to the development of the guillotine.

—Georges Bataille1

The slaughterhouse is linked to religion insofar as the temples of by-gone eras . . . served two purposes: they were used both for prayer and for killing. The result (and this judgment is confirmed by the chaotic aspect of present-day slaughterhouses) was certainly a disturbing convergence of the mysteries of myth and the ominous grandeur typical of those places in which blood flows.

—Georges Bataille2

Let us begin with a historical moment: the French Revolution, whose bicentennial commemoration was the pre-text of the “Magiciens de la terre” (Magicians of the earth) exhibition, and whose

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