ORIENT-EXPRESS & CIE:
BETWEEN HISTORY AND MYTHOLOGY
Curated by Éva Gravayat and Arthur Mettetal
Many tales, fabricated or based on facts, have been told about the Orient-Express, a technological achievement that became a cultural icon. Some have become legends, drowning historical reality in imaginative stories. It all started with the International Sleeping-Car Company, which ran the Orient-Express, the world's first international luxury train, between Paris and Constantinople, later Istanbul, from 1883 to 1977. Its creation was a veritable diplomatic and economic feat at a time when empires and states used railways as an instrument of political power. The photographs in the "Orient-Express & Cie" exhibition come from the archives of the former International Sleeping-Car Company. Pictures, plans, maps, technical drawings and advertising brochures saved by former employees during the company's various reorganizations put the Orient-Express into its historical context. Most are anonymous, others the work of famous studios such as Paul Nadar, Albert Chevojon and Sebah & Joailler.
Exhibition coproduced by Fonds de Dotation Orient-Express and the Rencontres d'Arles.
Publication: Orient-Express & Co, Archives Photographiques d'Un Train Mythique, Éditions Textuel, 2020.
With support from SNCF Gares & Connexions.
Curator: ÉVA GRAVAYAT
Born 1985 in Paris, France. Lives and works in Berlin, Germany.
Éva Gravayat graduated from the University of Paris I Panthéon-Sorbonne with a master's degree in exhibition science and technology. She was production manager at the Rencontres d'Arles (2007-2011) before moving to Berlin in 2012. In Germany, she was the correspondent for L'Œil de la Photographie, deputy director of the Fotobookfestival Kassel (2014-2018) and responsible for developing the Regard Collection and the Hein Gorny Estate in Berlin. She regularly participates in portfolio readings, juries and round tables at international festivals. In 2017, she co-founded thephotoexhibitionarchive.com, a collection of exhibition views for students, artists and curators.
Curator: ARTHUR METTETAL
Born 1985 in Besançon, France. Lives and works in Ivry-sur-Seine, France.
For several years, Arthur Mettetal, a historian focusing on economic history and industriel heritage, has been interested in the material and intangible traces of industry and used photography in all his projects. After an immersion into the Metaleurop plant's working-class memory in 2011, he worked on a project involving the role of factory smokestacks in northern France's urban and rural landscapes in 2015. He has co-curated several documentary exhibitions, including "Usine des memoires" and "Signal industriel", and is currently the administrator-director of the Endowment Fund Orient Express while at the same time working on a thesis at the Centre de Recherches Historiques of the EHESS.
Jacques Touchet, Advertising poster for the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express, 1930. Poster, 103cm x 62cm. Courtesy of Fonds SNCF, SARDO, Centre national des archives historiques.
The International Sleeping-Car Company travel agency in Brussels, 1900. Vintage print, 14cm x 17.6cm. Courtesy of Fonds de Dotation Orient-Express.
The entire workforce at the Greco workshops (Milan), 1933. Vintage print, 22.7cm x 28.5cm. Courtesy of Fonds de Dotation Orient-Express.