News Friday, September 28th 2012
Vacheron Constantin’s engagement in the major cultural projects relating to the celebrations of “Rousseau pour Tous” [Rousseau for all] ends with the opera JJR (Citoyen de Geneve) [JJR (Geneva Citizen)].
Jean-Jacques Rousseau in 1753, by Maurice Quentin de La Tour
Already a partner of the bicentenary, Vacheron Constantin commemorates the best-known philosopher of the Age of Enlightenment, who would have been 300 years old this year. The son and grandson of Genevan watchmakers, born in Geneva at the dawn of the cultural, social and political effervescence that was to definitively overturn society of his time, Jean-Jacques Rousseau embodies a mode of thought that is eminently modern despite its remote historical origins. Through the whirlwind of cultural and human emancipation it stirred, this philosophy resolutely contributed to shaping the face of Fine Watchmaking.
The links between Vacheron Constantin and Jean-Jacques Rousseau are rooted in history. It was indeed within the context of the Age of Enlightenment that Jean-Marc Vacheron opened his workshops in Geneva in 1755. He belonged at the time to the elite among horological artisans fascinated by astronomy and science. He took part in political debates and regularly attended literary salons and cafés. Reflecting the philosophy of the age, his craftsmanship was nurtured by values focused on culture, creativity and longevity – a cultural heritage that to this day binds the Geneva-based Manufacture to the author of the Social Contract. On the one hand, the writings of Jean-Jacques Rousseau highlight the value of hand craftsmanship; and on the other, culture occupies a pre-eminent role at Vacheron Constantin. The exercise of artistic crafts and the respect shown for individual manual skills are eloquent tokens of this ongoing commitment, as are the many longstanding cultural partnerships undertaken by the House.
In order to celebrate the tercentenary of the birth of Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Vacheron Constantin has chosen to support four important projects and events.
JJR (Citoyen de Genève), an opera representing a natural and logical choice
World-first performances of new operas are becoming increasingly rare, and supporting this project was thus a natural and logical choice for Vacheron Constantin which has been consistently committed to encouraging artistic creativity.
Opera, which by definition calls for a blend of lyrical and musical talent, holds a significant place among the cultural partnerships cherished by Vacheron Constantin. Moreover, the Grand Théâtre de Genève is one of the city’s leading cultural institutions. Two obvious reasons why the Manufacture wished to provide support to the opera JJR (Citoyen de Genève) staged by the Grand Théâtre de Genève from September 11th to 24th 2012. Moreover, the great names that have contributed to this world première – the composer Philippe Fénélon, along with the combined talents of librettist Ian Burton and stage director Robert Carsen – make this opera one of the major events of the events marking the tercentenary of the philosopher’s birth.
La Faute à Rousseau, a collection of short films
Initiated by the La Faute à Rousseau association in conjunction with Rita Productions, the RTS (Swiss national TV and Radio corporation) and the Geneva University of Art and Design (HEAD), this project is particularly ambitious in that it comprises 60 short films made by around 50 independent film-makers from Switzerland and around the world.
Essay, dramas, comedies, documentaries, comedy dramas, animated films… Never mind the tone or form that is used, provided the still vibrant spirit of the philosopher shines through these short films lasting a maximum of four minutes each.
Le Nez dans le Ruisseau, an appropriate and delicately balanced film
This full-length film prepared, organised, managed and produced by a passionately dedicated team of film enthusiasts with the necessary support of professionals, features several key actors in the leading roles, including Sami Frey. It subtly and delicately emphasises the ever-timely relevance of the thoughts expressed by the man who liked to call himself a “Citizen of Geneva”.
Festival of Ideas
Moreover, Vacheron Constantin was closely involved in the cycles of lectures and encounters dedicated to Rousseau in both New York and Berlin. The purpose was to highlight the contemporary scope and relevance of the ideas born in Geneva as well as their impact on the current issues facing our Western societies.
From opera to cinema through intellectual debate, Vacheron Constantin first and foremost views its commitment to supporting those involved in the Rousseau pour Tous commemoration as a means of celebrating the alchemy of art and time. Above and beyond the cultural dimension of watchmaking, the artistic vocation of the Manufacture continues to convey values of openness to the world. It is also about pursuing an approach in which past and future compose the present. And last but not least, it is a way of contributing to the cultural dynamism of Geneva, the birthplace of Jean-Jacques Rousseau and the historical cradle of Vacheron Constantin. A strong commitment that crystallises the values that the House has been ardently defending for over 250 years. ■