(Make haste slowly)
Having already regularly echoed the crises – ecological, as well as post-colonial, political and social – that punctuate and shape our globalised societies, and the questions that arise from them, La Criée centre d’art contemporain has decided to continue further along this track and, in collaboration with the artists, to imagine forms of resistance and alternatives that will be reflected on and put into practice throughout its new thematic cycle, Festina Lente, which will begin in autumn 2023.
It will do so with an acute awareness of the urgent need to (re)invent sustainable ways of interacting with the world. Festina.
It will do so with the conviction that to advance along the path of the good life, it is necessary to take one’s time, it is necessary to slow down. Lente.
It will do so by embracing the concept of the environment, natural (the Terrestrial world of which we are a part and which surrounds us) as much as social and cultural (from local to global, from near to far, from artists to audiences…).
It will do so by splicing this notion to those of landscape and cartography, but also to cosmology, metamorphoses, relationships, the quantum world and poetry.
According to Wikipedia the natural environment is “the ensemble of elements (biotic or abiotic) which surround an individual or a species, some of which contribute directly to providing for its needs”, or “all the natural (physical, chemical, biological) and cultural (sociological) conditions likely to affect living organisms and human activities”.
The term “environment”, which we are not entirely satisfied with, notably because of the way it is currently used, will be discussed again.
The question will be how to programme, and operate in, an art centre in a way that respects and takes care of everyone and everything that surrounds us? What kind of listening and relational approaches should be put in place to achieve these aims?
This new cycle follows on from the issues raised by the previous cycle, Lili, la rozell et le marimba (2019-2022), which looked at the relationship between contemporary creation and local knowledge and know-how. It will showcase artists reflecting the voices of indigenous, rural, suburban, and other forms of environmental thinking. It also aims to give a voice to the non-human, to the living and the non-living, to the non-speaking who nonetheless tell us things.
Festina Lente will also consider the contributions of modernity and the technological society. The cycle will therefore feature artists whose environmental approach is informed by the latest technical and scientific advances. Although the artists of Festina Lente are receptive to essential knowledge from other fields – vernacular, anthropological, scientific, agricultural, etc. – they are resolutely on the side of art and the experiences it offers, namely the power to renew our sensibilities, our models, our thoughts and our imaginations.
Festina Lente’s programme will take the form of exhibitions, special events, meetings, research, publications and residencies. A journal, guided by a research committee, will multiply the points of view and pursue the questions raised by the exhibitions.
In addition, and this is an important point, environmental awareness will be reflected in all the actions of the art centre, in our day-to-day work: in the production of works and exhibitions, in its communication, and in its dissemination activities. The team at La Criée has been aware of these issues for several years. It has begun to develop knowledge and practices and will use this new cycle as a basis for further learning and developing expertise and working methods, in liaison and dialogue with local initiatives and its peers.
Sophie Kaplan, july 2023
1 – In 2015, the study days devised by artist Yves Chaudouët and La Criée, with the programme title of L’art racine, invited artists and researchers in the sciences and humanities to think about art and society in symbiosis with lichens, spiders, ferns and mountains. They also pointed to the power of art to make a difference in society.
In 2021, in the wake of the pandemic, Elvia Teotski’s Molusma exhibition hosted insects in arches of earth placed on the grey floor of the art centre, in an attempt to connect art and its users with the rest of the living world, with which they share a damaged planet.