L'AiR Arts is excited to celebrate the one-year anniversary at its new permanent location, the historic Atelier 11 – the last surviving atelier of the prominent artists' community of Cité Falguière in Paris. A new emblematic home for L'AiR Arts, since August 2021 Atelier 11 operates as the International Arts Research Residency and welcomes local and international professionals for solo and duo projects, that run parallel to international group programs, partner residencies and events open to the general public. To preserve the architectural heritage of this remarkable building, L’AiR Arts, in partnership with Cité Falguière Association, is also working on an architectural project to restore and renovate the atelier in order to continue its artistic legacy within the contemporary culture.
Read some of the highlights from the past year below....
Over a year based at Atelier 11, L’AiR Arts has hosted nearly 50 local and international artists from over 30 countries. This includes 14 solo residents with 10 of them living at the Atelier. We also organized three group residencies (Photography, Drawing and In-situ) with 24 artists participating in professional exchange programs and additional 8 artists engaging in individual projects. Having provided refuge to creatives during the war-torn 20th century, in March-April 2022 Atelier 11 continued this tradition by welcoming an exiled artist from Ukraine - Maryna Semenkova. All residencies were either funded or subsidized by L’AiR Arts Association and its partners.
In September 2021, L'AiR Arts opened the doors of Atelier 11 for the first time as part of the European Heritage Days, welcoming more than 2000 people. Throughout the year, we organized 18 public and private events at the Atelier 11 and beyond: 7 open studios, 5 exhibitions, and 6 special events, including public workshops, talks and community programs. In solidarity with Ukraine, L'AiR Arts team hosted 3 solidarity events at the Atelier and were proud to present a carte blanche performance with Maryna Semenkova at the 2022 Les Rencontres de la Photographie in Arles. We were also pleased to see two of our residents at this year's edition of La Biennale di Venezia, the longest-running survey of contemporary art.
In addition to existing partners, over the last year L’AiR Arts has developed new partnerships with a number of cultural and academic institutions, including the Association Cité Falguière, Palazzo Monti, Paris College of Art, Espace Frans Krajcberg, the University of Kent and Galerie Huit in Arles. L’AiR Arts also assisted BBC Arts in filming the special episode on Modigliani and his life at Cité Falguière.
In collaboration with local and international artists and architects, L’AiR Arts Association has been coordinating an architectural project for the restoration and renovation of Atelier 11. The project is being developed by gh3 – a Toronto-based architecture, landscape and urban design practice, recognized with over 40 significant design awards. They will work in collaboration with local architects specializing in the restoration of French heritage sites and historical monuments. The renovation will result in a three-level, multi-functional contemporary space that will preserve the essence of the quintessential artist studio of Montparnasse.
Recognition and Support
On August 29th, after more than 60 years since the community efforts to protect the Cité Falguière site were mobilized, the Atelier 11 cultural heritage project finally became institutionally recognized, receiving support from the Heritage Foundation. The announcement was made in the presence of the Minister of Culture and Stéphane Bern, mentioning the Atelier 11 as the only project located in Paris among 100 historical properties across France to receive this award. The Heritage Foundation’s support will cover the restoration of the Atelier's exterior facades, preserving the architectural heritage of this remarkable building. Funding for the interior renovations and programming remain to be established.
New Identity - Same Mission
To embrace its commitment to contemporary arts within a historical perspective, L'AiR Arts launches a new identity celebrating Atelier 11 heritage. Just like the building itself that was built by artists for artists, the new logo was created by one of our artists-in-residence, Maryna Semenkova from Ukraine, in collaboration with a graphic designer from Lithuania, Marek Voida. Minimalist typography and eleven lines representing the historical structure, pull together L'AiR Arts, Atelier 11 and Cité Falguiere under one uniform brand, carrying on the legacy of the École de Paris into the 21st Century.
To continue Atelier’s artistic legacy within contemporary culture and to serve professional community and the public, L’AiR Arts and Cité Falguière Associations will continue to search for additional support from municipal, regional, national and international agencies as well as private foundations and individual donations.
It is very difficult to specify what foreigners are borrowing from us, and what we are borrowing from them.
On January 27th, 1925, the art critic André Warnod wrote these words in the Comoedia, thus encapsulating for the first time the complexity of the stakes within what he coined “École de Paris”.
In the 1920s, xenophobia infiltrated the Parisian art scene. Indeed, many exhibition reviews considered that foreign artists were being granted excessive visibility. Although a verdict for the Salon des Indépendants of 1922 was to favour artists installations according to alphabetical order, in 1924, the management committee opted for a segregation by nationality, thus separating French and foreign artists. This chauvinist move scandalized the participants and led some to withdraw such as Foujita, Lipchitz, Zadkine, Léger, arousing controversy in the press. Provoked by this event, the École de Paris stemmed from a desire to house the entire cosmopolitan artistic community that came to settle in Paris at the turn of the 20th century, thus igniting recognition of their involvement, and the impact of foreign artists on the French creative scene.
In spite of Modernism's foundation in agitation and scandal, this “École” is not a movement. It does not embody a unified aesthetic. It does not seek a plastic norm; it is in no way legislated. This is with exception in its hope for emancipation, its battle against discrimination, its intrinsic feelings of rejection in systems proliferating freedoms of creation and of the individual. Jules Pascin, Amedeo Modigliani, Chaïm Soutine, Constantin Brancusi, Sonia Delaunay, Marc Chagall or Chana Orloff, despite their visual eclecticism, are linked to the stories and to the common ideals of a generation of international artists.
Despite ‘École de Paris’ quickly slipping into the realm of positive discrimination, this multicultural and multidisciplinary meeting of creators, painters, sculptors, writers and photographers provided fertile ground for some of the most influential works of art of the 20th century. Although seemingly judged as superficial, this association of artists encouraged a positive change of attitudes towards academicism – a fruitful osmosis. This creative energy brought about a clash of styles, languages and cultures. This was a real testimony to the power of integration from the artistic community at its peak.
Image by an anonymous photographer capturing the prominent members of the artistic community of Montparnasse, Paris, 1923
However, the “École de Paris” was born in turmoil and consequently challenged. No one could prevent the effects of war, a major economic crisis, and that the fear of the other would take over the features of the other. The rise of nationalism was both the motor as well as the adversary of the essence of “École de Paris” – provoking a return to the stability of ancient traditions. The uninterrupted innovation of art at the heart of turbulence appeared uncertain whilst beholding a permanent glimmer of hope.
Questions persist on the ability for Paris to establish itself as a leader in the renewal of French culture and its role on the international stage. This was due to the exposure of the fragility of its democracy, and the reigning doubt on its unifying ideologies. Indeed, how can we identify a creation representative of human value, when all aspirations to humanism are knocked down by global catastrophes instigated by humans? How to legitimize and guide the artistic productions created within our destructive societies? Do artists have any agency at all? History and its questions repeat themselves: art is continually undergoing the effects of societal instabilities. Therefore, recognizing history and creation as powers we learn from, are necessary. The past and the “École de Paris”, are not archives to be placed in quarantine. The present is an active history that art proves intelligible.
The avant-gardes of yesterday and the explorations of today must be recognized as tools for understanding our societies and actors of historical, political, cultural, and societal change. Beyond the experience of personal aesthetics, art carries a civic responsibility, a purpose of creative unity in the face of adversity and chaos. By considering art through its relationship to society and community, perhaps we are allowing poets, artists, and thinkers to exercise a civilizing function. That is, to participate in a revitalization of humanity which resonates with relevance. What has been called modernity is therefore not solely characterized by its aesthetics but more importantly its ability to distill the old into the new, to break down the dichotomies of the past and the modern, of the grounded and the distant, from the self and from the other.
The modernity and contemporaneity are not tabula rasa but states of availability, transversality, and uniqueness. Let us retain from the “École de Paris” the revolutionary potential of the artistic community as an organic synthesis of tradition and innovation. Let's grant art the freedom, plurality, and vitality it requires to forge new bonds that unite individual human experience and collective existences. Internationalization is a mutual process; with culture as its medium.
Written in French by Juliette Gaufreteau, Sorbonne University
Translation by Lily Pouydebasque, University College London
Yesterday’s peace, today’s war
by Matt Jones
First, a woman’s voice and a haunting song, then a screech as she pulls the scotch tape, flattens it against the atelier’s immense windows. Methodical, the tape zigzags across the panes like lightning, or snakes. She is Maryna Semenkova, a photographer and performance artist; she explains that when Putin’s forces invaded, the Ukrainian government ordered the people to tape their windows, lest the bomb blasts turn the glass into shrapnel.
International conflicts, invasions, senseless massacres: if only we had a stronger torch than art for these dark depths. Yet Atelier 11 has been sheltering creatives for a hundred and fifty years. World famous artists, that rocked the foundations of their craft, and influenced entire generations. Artists like Amedeo Modigliani and Chaïm Soutine: mismatched brothers of la bohème, one the pinnacle of manners, the other impatiently tapping his fork on the plate when the waiter was slow.
Art is more than a torch; it’s also a shield. In the absence of state protection and sponsorship, Atelier 11 has always been defended by the very artists it harbours – when Maryna tapes the windows, she participates in a longer arc of artistic guardians who refuse to allow Atelier 11, also known as the historic Cité Falguière, to be absorbed into apartment blocks, heritage forgotten.
Read full article on Paris Lit Up blog
A community-based project that can save a historical art residency from disappearance
- by Clare Patrick, L'AiR Arts guest curator and aluma resident (South Africa), as part of the collaborative endeavor for Atelier 11, backed by Artpool.
Paris, for me, feels hyper-real. From the history-washed buildings and precise pavement markers to the golden light in shop windows and the crazy array of flowers growing everywhere. In Paris, the Surrealists turned to its grime, interrogating its sicknesses, its erotic grit and upeneded its lanscapes. The impressionists found light and cats and picnics and Sundays in the park. Picasso, Klein, Matisse and Orloff wandered the very streets I walked down, visiting similar shops, perhaps they even watched Satie perform in the cramped little theatre I sat in, where words washed over me allowing for a puzzle-piece translation, surely as bizarre as he would have wished it.
On Site is a call to return, to resume and reconnect after years (which we hoped would be weeks) of being dislocated. To return to Paris and the creative possibilities it evokes. The On Site artists and their practises span continents and time zones, mediums and techniques. In this NFT space, we are all fresh and inspired to connect and reimagine. To rethink and reconsider our own spaces and imaginings. From postcard-sized experiments, to infinitely generative forms, we explore and offer our findings in support of history and thinking to the future.
In working digitally, the artworks take on new forms and potentials: buzzing and blinking like Barbara Wildenboer's, glowing and pushing like Juan Hinojosa's, shifting and ripping like Valentina Ezyaguirre's, circling and holding in Yen Ha's and exploring and expanding in both Una Laurencic and Yong Hee Kim. On Site is an effort to support and encourage the continuation of intercultural exchange, partnership and engagement at Atelier 11, the new home of L'AiR Arts. The home that has housed the stories of so many artists before, and to those we can't wait to help welcome in years to come.
All proceeds of the NFT fundraiser will go towards restoration of Atelier 11 - L'AiR Arts residency space in Paris.
caught in between
by Mayumi Lashbrook (Canada), alumna of Multidisciplinary Residency, 2020 and Virtual Residency, 2021.
In my experience in every creation process I’ve been part of, there’s a cracking moment. A period of time where you know you’re digging deep. Excavating the emotional, charged, tense grit of the human experience. You dig down into the soil of the self hoping to find a gleaming thought to share that could offer profound change.
Each week of our online residency has felt this way. We’ve all said and felt in some way that this isn’t a topic that we alone could bear. Even though each of our practises are built on a foundation of seeking liberation. Through the group’s diverse experiences and camaraderie, we’ve found safe practises to look at the harrowing truths of movement of humans and commodities. I am deeply grateful for this.
I am pushed forward by these discoveries and many more…
The naming of borders I place on myself or have been placed on me.
The recognition of the borders others live within that don’t enclose me and never will.
There is a fairness committee to cap earnings in sports yet no such regulations exist for the richest people in the world.
The subtle or not so subtle differences between forced and enforced migration.
Language is the primary means to accessing power.
Language exists because our senses alone are imperfect communicators, we utilize language to fill in the missing information.
Trees communicate to each other offering warnings and triggering mast fruiting; language used for communal generosity.
The Queen may be the only person on the planet who requires no passport.
The Indigneous creation story of Skywoman tells that she, the original woman herself, was an immigrant.
I recognize we’ve picked a limitless topic. One that crosses over many areas, experiences and faultlines.
It was brought up about the idea that change is like a boat going through water. It simultaneously moves forward and backwards, ripples emanating in two directions of opposing action. I expect our impact to be of the same nature. I move looking for both, a way of staying rooted in the past while looking ahead to the possible future. A sense of implosion and explosion, safety and danger, progression and regression.
And yet we keep moving through. Together.
Borders, Borderlands and Crossings
A work-in-progress showing exploring the movement of precious metals, seeds, and humans across borders, both imagined and real.
Join in to share your thoughts and reflections as L'AiR Arts four international alumni:
Kunji Mark Ikeda (Canada), Shireen Ikramullah Khan (Netherlands), Mayumi Lashbrook (Canada) and Eric Lawrence Taylor (USA) connect for a 7-week multi-disciplinary virtual residency, culminating in a public work-in-progress showing.
Date: Saturday August 7th
Time: 11:00am MT / 1:00pm ET / 7:00pm CEST
Location: Online through Zoom, FREE!
For more information and to register click here.
keep in Touch!
Residency participants are invited to submit their updates and share reflections on projects related to the residency experience. The news and resources shared on this community platform are meant to further the engagement among all residents, stimulate active thinking, and create pathways for knowledge transfer and cross-cultural exchange.
Cover Image: Artists-in Residence, Multidisciplinary Program, January 2020