Vincent Ganivet’s monumental Catena Containers in Le Havre

Vincent Ganivet - Catène de Containers, 2017, 38 painted maritime containers, 29m height
Vincent Ganivet – Catène de Containers, 2017, 38 painted maritime containers, 29m height, installation view, Le Havre, France, photo: CC BY 2.0 by Musicaloris

Le Havre – Catène de containers

The Catène de Containers is a sculpture created by Vincent Ganivet in 2017. To build the monument, Ganivet made two archways of containers to commemorate the 500th anniversary of the French city Le Havre.

Vincent Ganivet - Catène de Containers, 2017, 38 painted maritime containers, 29m height
Vincent Ganivet – Catène de Containers, 2017, 38 painted maritime containers, 29m height, installation view, Le Havre, France, photo: CC BY 2.0 by Musicaloris

The containers, which were stacked up to 30-meters high, are easily distinguished by the various bright colors and are situated at the rue de Paris on the manufacturing port of Le Havre.

The port of Havre
The port of Le Havre, photo: CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 by Bruno Julé/aucoindelarue

The stacks of containers were designed to look a lot like a LEGO set as the monument was created using containers. These containers were stacked together using a special engineering tactic, so no glue or any other adhesives were used in the assembly process.

Vincent Ganivet - Catène de Containers, 2017, 38 painted maritime containers, 29m height, installation view, Havre, France
Vincent Ganivet – Catène de Containers, 2017, 38 painted maritime containers, 29m height, installation view, Le Havre, France, photo: CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 by Katell-Ar-Gow

For this specific project, Ganivet raised his containers and sized them to scale to match the surrounding neighboring buildings.

Vincent Ganivet - Catène de Containers, 2017, 38 painted maritime containers, 29m height
Vincent Ganivet – Catène de Containers, 2017, 38 painted maritime containers, 29m height, installation view, Le Havre, France, photo: CC BY 2.0 by corno.fulgur75

Construction

This massive construction site developed gradually to ensure that everyone involved was kept safe. To start the construction process, concrete slabs were poured on the ground to support the massive structure.

1 min 18 sec

Containers were then stacked in two distinct arches, beginning with the smallest one, which comprised 15 containers extending 40 meters long and 13 meters high.

Vincent Ganivet - Catène de Containers, 2017, 38 painted maritime containers, 29m height
Vincent Ganivet – Catène de Containers, 2017, 38 painted maritime containers, 29m height, installation view, Le Havre, France, photo: CC BY 2.0 by corno.fulgur75

The second arch was then assembled with the engineers stacking containers 29 meters high; the equivalence of the height of one of the tallest buildings in the rue de Paris.

Vincent Ganivet - Catène de Containers, 2017, 38 painted maritime containers, 29m height
Vincent Ganivet – Catène de Containers, 2017, 38 painted maritime containers, 29m height, installation view, Le Havre, France, photo: CC BY 2.0 by corno.fulgur75

To ensure that the containers stayed in place, reinforcements were added between each container. These reinforcements are also what allowed the arch to be created. In total, Catène de Containers is estimated to weigh approximately 500 tonnes.

1 min

Location

Address: Quai de Southampton, 76600 Le Havre, Seine-Maritime
Hours: 24h

About Vincent Ganivet

Throughout his career, Vincent Ganivet has been utilizing bricks and concrete blocks to create massive and often complex arches and structures that seem to disregard the laws of gravity.

Vincent Ganivet - Catène de Containers, 2017, 38 painted maritime containers, 29m height
Vincent Ganivet – Catène de Containers, 2017, 38 painted maritime containers, 29m height, installation view, Le Havre, France, photo: CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 by Katell-Ar-Gow

Ganivet uses a mathematical system to ensure that his creations remain stable, the same process that was utilized by the famous architect from Catalan, Antoni Gaudi.

Vincent Ganivet - Catène de Containers, 2017, 38 painted maritime containers, 29m height
Vincent Ganivet – Catène de Containers, 2017, 38 painted maritime containers, 29m height, installation view, Le Havre, France, photo: CC BY 2.0 by corno.fulgur75

In particular, for this project, Ganivet utilized Gaudi’s catenary arch technique1 that relies on a flexible hanging chain or cable that can support items of various sizes by depending solely on gravity. Ganivet is constantly looking for new ways to push the envelope, always making the next installation bigger and higher than the last.

1 min 26 sec

Ganivet‘s artistic approach calls on the deliberate use of inexpensive materials such as containers, concrete bricks, and wooden blocks to come up with his creations. As such, on most occasions, Ganivet has to assume three roles- artist, engineer, and mathematician.

Vincent Ganivet - Catène de Containers, 2017, 38 painted maritime containers, 29m height
Vincent Ganivet – Catène de Containers, 2017, 38 painted maritime containers, 29m height, installation view, Le Havre, France, photo: CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 by Paul Robert Lloyd

He has built a knack for testing and taking his blocks and sculptures to hazardous and almost dangerous limits. So much so that in 2011, one of his sculptures at Karlsruhe Kunsthalle collapsed mid-exhibition2.

Born in Suresnes, France, in 1976, Ganivet continues to create masterpieces that defy gravity with simple materials at his studio in Île Saint-Denis, France.

Vincent Ganivet - Catène de Containers, 2017, 38 painted maritime containers, 29m height
Vincent Ganivet – Catène de Containers, 2017, 38 painted maritime containers, 29m height, installation view, Le Havre, France, photo: CC BY 2.0 by corno.fulgur75

Over the years, his monumental freestanding archways have been exhibited in several regions and institutions worldwide, including in Staatliche Kunsthalle Karlsruhe, Palais de Tokyo, MAMAC Nice, the Lambert Avignon Collection, and more.

Vincent Ganivet - Catène de Containers, 2017, 38 painted maritime containers, 29m height
Vincent Ganivet – Catène de Containers, 2017, 38 painted maritime containers, 29m height, installation view, Le Havre, France, photo: CC BY-NC 2.0 by ukdamian

Footnotes

  1. https://mathstat.slu.edu/escher/index.php/The_Geometry_of_Antoni_Gaudi#Catenary_Arches_and_Catenoids
  2. https://www.ka-news.de/kultur/regional/Ausstellung-Lumiere-Noire-Kunterbuntes-Grau-in-Grau-aus-Frankreich;art136,703507

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *