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Paris

Walk Through the Belleville Biennale

October 18, 2012

Satellite Voices checks out the latest epic art event in one of Paris's emerging areas

  • Text by Satellite Voices

Guest Feature by Ingrid Melano

Curated by Patrice Joly and celebrating its second year, the Belleville art Biennale explores an emerging area of Paris that revels in its multi-ethnicity, its outskirt location and that known story of gentrification vs working-class resistance.

Running until October 20, galleries, alternative venues, art institutions, non-profit organizations, studios, squares and other public places are being re-appropriated into innovative art spaces.

Our tour of the Belleville Biennale started at the 104 Exhibition Space, where an ephemeral art lending library, in French called the Artothèque, was specifically created. Offering visitors a chance to take home a work of value under €1000, there was an array of drawings, lithographs, prints, photographs, paintings, as well as small sculptures, videos and artist books. Whether you're a curious neighbour, a novice or an art lover, dreaming of becoming a collector, anyone and everyone can develop a special and confident relationship with present-day art, promoting the artists present in the Artothèque.

We then walked towards Place Colonel Fabien to observe Untitled, a simple and ambiguous sculpture, a length of prefabricated concrete wall. Associated with other identical modules, it can form a separation wall, offensive or defensive, between two territories. Presented on its own, it wavers between a construction element with broader functions, a readymade, a minimal sculpture, and a political symbol.

This six-metre-high, eleven-ton work by Nicolas Milhé was produced in Rennes in 2005 and then acquired by the Centre National des Arts Plastiques CNAP in 2009, before moving to Belleville. Set in the public place, it causes nothing less than a physical shock, conveying a powerful symbolic dimension. Presented on Boulevard de la Villette, where Belleville’s Chinese, Arab, Jewish and Pakistani communities all meet, this sculpture assumes a local contextual dimension.

We finally checked out the beautiful park of Buttes Chaumont, looking for the disrespectful work of Vincent Lamouroux. Arguing against the colour green that has become synonymous with economic respectability and of guaranteed preservation of nature under attack, he painted a tree changing color from green to white. We didn't know its real location, and we finally discovered it by chance, round the corner of a path in the park.

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