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No need to introduce you Kader Attia, a plastic artist and award winner of the prize Marcel Duchamp 2016. His work has been exploring and questioning the contemporary world and its cultures for a long time, with always the notion of repairing, just like an endless cycle. In keeping with his work, he dreamt of a space where everyone could meet. Where the debates could be constructive and benefit from our differences. This utopian forum has been a reality for a few months now. La Colonie, the result of Kader Attia’s, Zico Selloum’s and their families’ passion, is a very rich place for experiencing. To welcome these enthusiastic spirits, this modern agora is in an entirely renovated dance club. There, La Colonie has rediscovered the huge glass roof in Eiffel style, used all the floors and installed a bar, a library, galleries and a smoking room. All furniture has been bargain-hunted. A ’50s atmosphere where amazing shows follow screenings, concerts and parties. The staff wants everyone to feel first all the space they chose to leave to the mind. The thought is free, independent, multiple, hybrid and everyone share it in a sometimes intense atmosphere. A place of manners to let people know about everything, which we discover with Lucie Touya, a passionate and daring scheduler.
La Colonie, 128 rue Lafayette – 75010 Paris.
Lucie, can you tell us more about this place?
It’s a place at the heart of Paris, near Gare du Nord, created by Kader Attia, a contemporary artist of Algerian origin and who grew up in Garches-lès-Gonesse. We opened the place on 2016, October 17th, which a symbolical date: in 1961, during the Algerian war, Algerian people were demonstrating in Paris and the crushing had become a real bloodbath. It’s one of the key dates in the relation between France and Algeria before independence. Kader was awarded with the Marcel Duchamps prize when we inaugurated La Colonie. He had had this project in mind for a very long time: opening a space in Paris, dedicated to thinking, to contemporary societies, to France and its history – the colonial one but not only. Enabling people with diverse backgrounds, coming from outside Europe, to talk. A place where we could debate with intellectuals, scientists, artists, writers, poets, militants, nurses… A space for dialogue which tries to improve our ways of all living together.
How did you design the place?
Kader had in mind this type of atmosphere. Zico – his associate – and him bargain-hunted and assembled everything with the idea of preserving the space. They got their inspiration in Berlin. Kader lives in this city and he loves the spirit of the coffees. To preserve this refined space, we won’t have any exhibition on the ground floor but we are designing a real gallery in the second floor where, in theory, we’ll organise 4 or 5 exhibitions a year.
How does La Colonie work?
We have a lot of people coming here. We actually organise conferences, performances and concerts, but there are also parties here. It has been very important to us from the beginning. There is no difference: it’s merely a place where we can meet people, whether it be while debating or dancing. We didn’t want something elitist, where people coming to talk would be standing behind a stand and where people would “allow” you to talk. Here it’s more like a Forum, an agora. The talks are diverse and free, open to debates and to questioning. We’re glad when it becomes polemical, when people argue. But, of course, everyone remains very kind!
Why did you choose this name?
La Colonie, but stroke out, because the French history is after all very influenced by its imperialism and our culture is the result of colonisation and our diversity. When I say “stroke out”, it’s because it’s not a positive dimension and because it must be something to discuss. You can understand it in different ways. Here we colonise Paris. I want everyone to feel free to come here for a moment.
Can you tell us more about what happens here?
The program is a real mix of different things: it follows our desires and the news. We start with the thought the word “culture” is absent of all debates between candidates for the presidential elections for example. We also want to do something about earthen architecture. I’d like to organise a reading club and workshops with children and older people. The weekends are dedicated to music and party, with the possibility to discover a sharp selection of DJs and musicians. A lot of people ask us to do things here. We welcome them quite easily, as long as it remains in the view and ethics of the place.
On March 2d has started a season on witches, with readings and the music of Ma Public Therapy. Alexandra Fournier, a comedian, film maker and director is in charge of this event. Every month, we meet someone to talk about the figure of the witch in history, a very ambiguous character. It’s the object of myths and tales. It’s also a figure feminists use. I think it’s going to be fascinating.
Credits : Eve Campestrini @thesocialitefamily