It is indeed, une belle ville! The City of Lights never fails to impress–nor does it shy away from working you to death. I’ve been here for two-and-a-half days, barely beat jet lag, only to find myself, talk show-style, in front of an eager Parisien audience. I’m here for an annual contemporary art conference entitled Les Rencontres Internationales. I’ve had the trans-Atlantic privilege of participation for three consecutive years. The conference is a mix of screenings, performances, panel discussions and socializing, spread between two distinctive venues–the cavernous Palais de Tokyo and frenetic Gaïte Lyrique.
For this year’s Rencontres table ronde, we investigated the notion of Politique de l’image: Mutation des dispositifs et expérience collective. How’s that for some light afternoon fare? Basically, this moderated public dialogue was about the current global tendency, within cultural agencies, to demonstrate an almost unprecedented openness to new audiences, particularly youth and the artistically uninitiated. Whether the result of a government’s mandate or an effect of changing appetites in the realm of private sector funding, it’s pretty clear that we’re all moving in a similar direction. It’s funny when representatives from Belgium (Laurence Alary of Argos), Spain (Lucía Casani at La Casa Encendida) and Canada (well, that’s me) can be on the exact same page!
Now, it is a big topic and I won’t bore you with all the details, but should you be interested, here are a few sound bites from the discussion. And speaking of younger audiences, please excuse the background squeals of children, who were gaming-away in the nearby youth gallery.
Aside from being part of the official conference program, we did have some time for fun! And to that end, I would highly recommend the Gaïte Lyrique’s historic, second floor Foyer Bar–get the coupe de Champagne Rosé.
Stay tuned for part deux of my Paris adventure! I’ll be reporting from an exhibition opening at Palais Galliera, the city’s museum of fashion. What to wear? What to wear?
William Huffman is an arts administrator, curator, educator, and writer with a history of extensive involvement on both local and international cultural fronts. Follow @williamhuffman on Twitter