Hugo d'Alesi's Maréorama
graphic design, research
In the year 1900, the French graphic designer Hugo d’Alesi’ staged a voyage on a steamship that crossed the Mediterranean Sea from the French port of Villefranche to Constantinople, the capital of the Ottoman empire. On board the Maréorama, the diverse crowd of the World’s Fair in Paris experienced a retreat from the increasingly industrialised society. By both recapturing the voyage as an active passenger aboard the Maréorama and deconstructing the Maréorama in relation to its historical and socio-economical context, this research aims to analyse Hugo d’Alesi’s immersive multi-sensorial spectacle, which combined commercial mass culture with the political agenda of the Third French Republic. It demonstrates how the voyage on the Maréorama was strongly embedded in the stereotypical Western constructed representations of the Mediterranean region at that time. These representations expose the imbalance of power between the Western and Eastern poles of the Mediterranean basin and the authentic and sensual East as the supposed contrasting pole of the industrialised West.