The artistic project

‘Révéler la station balnéaire du XXIème siècle’. L’enjeu majeur du projet porté par la Compagnie du Dragon est bien celui du développement économique et touristique de la ville de Calais. Pour ce faire, le Dragon, notre premier pensionnaire créé par La Machine à Nantes doit permettre la valorisation du patrimoine, du renouveau urbain et faire basculer Calais de l’ère industrielle à celle de la culture.


Calais, a seaside town between history and renewal

Calais and the Calaisis region is a territory with a rich tradition. There is something inexplicable about living in a city by the sea that makes everyday life sweeter and more contrasting: the wisdom of the horizon, the strength of the elements. And if the urban history of the city of Calais is so closely linked to the sea, it is today on its large beach and on the waterfront that the destiny of a renewal is being played out.

Radiate, become unique and assert its qualities, confirm that Calais is a city where we live, that we visit and we love. Calais wants to bring together three forces, which are culture, leisure and sport. The aim is to forge an identity in order to be recognized as a major living space nationally and internationally.

Invested by art and culture

The main stake is tourism and economic development of the city by establishing a coherent link and a natural articulation between the projects carried out today, and a singular artistic history.

More specifically, the arrival of the Dragon de Calais and the Compagnie du Dragon accompanies the urban renewal of the seafront, and ultimately consists of the emergence of a set of ten moving machines located in different places in Calais. Although independent in their operation, their movement in urban space makes it possible to reveal links between the different districts of Calais.

© Fred Collier – Ville de Calais

‘City machines’ in a permanent representation

The project features several types of creatures imagined by François Delaroziere and the Compagnie la Machine, taking place in various emblematic places of Calais. Inspired by saurians, each machine is attached to a place that will have undergone a profound transformation. The Dragon of Calais will take up residence on the seafront and at Fort Risban, the ‘Varans de voyage’ in the ‘Dombunker’, the ‘Iguana family’ in Fort Nieulay and the ‘Grand Iguane’ in the heart of Saint Pierre district. Each of the machines moves around town, evolves in urban space and interacts with its immediate environment: street furniture, traffic, passers-by, thus creating a permanent daily spectacle.

What is a ‘city machine’ ?

A “city machine” integrates a civic function such as, for example, people transportation. They are also truly colossal architectures, a sort of mobile gazebo that offer a different point of view of public space.

Visible to all, and placed in the daily framework of those who cross them, these living sculptures transcend and transform our perception of the city. Beyond the simple mechanical and material equation, this form of performance integrates architecture with theatrical writing and becomes a formidable instrument of cultural emancipation. Access to culture in the middle of the street can indeed help to develop skills, to nurture self-esteem and pride about your city. This marriage of technique and movement creates a unique spark in the eye of the spectator which allows him to let his imagination run free, to ignore the machinists in action and to fully experience his emotions.

The project in the eye of the creator

Intervening in the public space involves grappling with the architecture and history of a place, the social markers of a territory, its future. Calais has always been a frontier town, crossed by thousands of people – travellers, seafarers, migrants, tourists – their horizon set on the sea, promising not only hope but also the unknown. In the light of its past and its present, more than any other city Calais necessarily raises the question of the relevance of our intervention. The productions staged by La Machine take place in the public space; they are free, open to all and seek to transform the inhabitants’ view of their own town or city. They are anchored in the reality and life of every inhabitant. The scenes are designed to be played out in the places used by the citizens on a daily basis. In short, just where they are not expected. It is in this contrast that the power of the action lies.

François Delaroziere

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Travel aboard the dragon !

Ready for an original adventure? Book your trip aboard the Calais Dragon, an unusual journey on the Côte d’Opale, to the rhythm of this exceptional animal! Stroll on the panoramic terrace embedded in his back and discover the new seafront of Calais!

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