Each year since 2008, champagne house Ruinart has collaborated with a different artist on its “Carte Blanche” commission. The annual project brings the maison together with a contemporary artist to produce a new, exciting selection of work that explores Ruinart and champagne-making in a multifaceted and original way. This year, Ruinart commissioned visual artist Jeppe Hein for the Carte Blanche commission and the resulting artwork, Right Here, Right Now, is a sensory artwork experience inspired by the process of creating champagne.
Ruinart invited Hein to an artist’s residency in Reims to discover the maison, champagne-producing process and the Crayères, the former chalk quarries Ruinart uses to age its wines. Hein was so inspired by the sensory experience and practical necessity of the Cruyères that chalk became an integral part of Right Here, Right Now.
Right Here, Right Now is a participatory artwork that encourages interaction from the viewer and explores the five senses of touch, smell, sight, hearing and taste as well as the four elements of earth/soil, water/rain, air/wind and fire/sun – all essential to the production of champagne. As participants experience the artwork, they are invited to see themselves in a mirror, touch a piece of chalk, listen to the sound of a drop of essential oil falling into their palm, smell the flower of a Chardonnay plant, and taste a sun-ripened raisin. Seven panels in different colours and shapes that refer to the seven chakras in the body are positioned around the artwork and participants will be invited to draw their emotional portrait, slowly building a collage of self-expression as the installation continues.
‘I could imagine the sun touching my face, while I am standing in the middle of the vineyard, smelling the moisture of the earth, listening to rainwater dripping onto the vine leaves and tasting the grapes,’ Hein says of Right Here, Right Now.
Hein, who hails from Denmark, is known for his participatory installations that always involve the viewer. The public are invited to interact with – and change – his artworks as part of their lifecycles. In this, Hein creates work that celebrates our interconnectedness with each other and explores the mutability of his work in its form and relationship with the viewer. Since suffering through artistic burnout at around age 35 in 2009, Hein has also introduced themes of mindfulness, spirituality and being present into his works – all tools that helped him to heal and regain his inspiration.
As Maison Ruinart cellar master Frédéric Panaïotis says: ‘Through his work as an artist, Jeppe Hein takes a fresh look at the world. Each piece is a playground, each moment becomes an experience that connects us to nature, others and the world. I was blown away by his skill as an “orchestra conductor”: he plays with the four elements and makes the five senses vibrate with a generosity that draws our attention to the fragile beauty of life.’
This year, Right Here, Right Now will be displayed at major art fairs across the world, of which Ruinart is a partner. These include the Venice Biennale, Art Brussels, Frieze New York, Art Basel, Frieze London, FIAC Paris, Art Week Tokyo and Art Basel Miami Beach. Every encounter with Right Here, Right Now promises to be enlightening, unique and fun.
As Hein says: ‘I want to give people an experience that they are not used to at an art fair. Because normally, you look, buy and sell. It is all about accumulating: taking and giving. I would like to offer a moment for small sensations and experiences. You put your arm into the mirror foil, it disappears inside, and you take something out. Just doing this will already take people out of their comfort zone. You may get a special piece of chalk, go to the wall, and draw your face to show how you feel. It will be very personal, but also a shared moment with all the other people drawing their face too. Or you may get a small drop of oil on the palm of your hand, which exudes the aroma of grapes. The wind, water, earth and sun… it is about trying to bring back memories of an experience, from your childhood, for example. Drawing on the senses will carry people away from the context of the art fair to just be Right Here, Right Now.’
Find out more at jeppehein.ruinart.com