We are pleased to announce the 7th edition of Infr’Action Sète which will take place from September 14 to 18 2011 in the beautiful Mediterranean city of Sète. It will present 17 international artists and is curated by Nadia Capitaine, co-founder of Infr’Action Sète and Infr’Action Paris.
When we started the festival in 2005, we did it with a pioneering passion of experimentation of how contemporary art could be distributed to the public at large. Our leitmotif was to try out new ways to implement a real cultural democracy, giving access to all citizens to the liberating aspects of contemporary art and performance art in particular. We were immediately followed and supported when we conceived this project in 2004 by the city of Sète and its mayor François Commeinhes, as well as by the region Languedoc-Roussillon and its president Georges Frêche.
At that time we didn’t reflect upon the position of performance art on the international art scene when the interest in this avant-garde art form was not what it is today. As a matter of fact, today performance art seems to be everywhere. It is growing around the corner, new festivals are being organised and even the prestigious art institutions are now getting more and more interested in this new art media, the youngest art media in contemporary art. The institutions on the international art scene has clearly opened up to it in the last two years, and even more so after the retrospective Marina Abramovic exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, last summer.The tendency is clear and sharp, performance art is on the move all over the world.
2011 is an important year in the history of Infr’Action. Since its start in 2005 Infr’Action have made itself known on the international art scene as one of the leading events in performance art. We have initiated innovating projects and have created partnerships with other festivals around the world. Our position in the field is today impossible to go around. With a network spanning from Latin America and North America, to Europe and Asia, Infr’Action has made itself known primarily because of its proximity to the artists, and its high quality program. But also for its innovating way of presenting some of the most important artists of the avant-garde of contemporary art in the streets of Sète. A major part of the more than 200 artists that have been presented since Infr’Actions first edition belongs to the elite in the field, and we can even see with pride that some younger talents started their careers in Sète.
We are of course pleased, by our accomplishments since we started. However, we have always felt the need to go further, to go beyond, and to either expand or renew ourselves with a continuity. In 2009 we initiated, in cooperation with the Swedish Institute in Paris; Infr’Action Paris, which today is the single performance art festival in the capital. This years third edition which was held in May was not only an artistic success, presenting a number of major international artists. It also attracted a record audience during the European Museum Night, which could be counted in the thousands. The public was lining up in long queues to get in, and unfortunately we had to refuse a majority.
In cooperation with our partner organisation Live Action Gothenburg, Infr’Action initiated yet another event this year, Infr’Action Venezia www.infractionvenice.org. It presented altogether 49 artists during the professional preview of the 54th Venice Biennial, the most important international event in contemporary art. Infr’Action Venezia presented, as is its tradition, some major international artists as well as talents from a younger generation in the public space between the Giardini and the Arsenale, as well as in the Giardini itself. During two evenings Infr’Action Venezia was also present in a most beautiful and prestigious space, the Accademia di Belle Arti di Venezia, with whom we had created a partnership. Art professionals and media from all over the world were stunned by the poetry and the simplicity of the work presented in this collective way. Who are they ? Where do they come from ? were questions we could hear all around us during the four days in Venice. Deliberately using a non-communication strategy in the dense context of marketing which is the biennale, Infr’Action Venezia, became as was intended a rumour, people asking questions, discussing, wondering, and finally finding answers. Questions of the unknown, not publicity, aroused the interest from the professionals of the international art world.
Despite the success of these two events, our will to expand as well as to renew our actions, have made us rethink the organisation and the structure of Infr’Action Sète. As such, we have this year appointed a new curator, Nadia Capitaine, who also is the co-founder and former co-ordinator of Infr’Action Séte. She has not only a great experience in organising performance art events, but also an elaborated international network, and moreover she has an eclectic view and openess to what is new and innovating in the field, and she has new visions. We are convinced that this change of curator, and of artistic direction, will renew the festivals outlook, and deepen even further its international reputation.
Another issue that has been close to us is the festivals relation to the population of Sète. We have always worked with a highly reflected way of how to further a cultural democracy, giving access to contemporary art to those who are not accustomed. This has mainly been realized by presenting works of contemporary art on the many and different outdoor markets in Sète. This has clearly been successful, since we today even have some of the sellers explaining to their customers what is going on, being mediators to the audience and passers-by. This is more significant than we even could imagine when the festival started in 2005. Of course there are always cultural tourists and professionals in the field coming to Sète to witness this international avant-garde. But our main interest is its population.
We have been quite successful with time in making people understand this avant-garde art form. To make them reflect and think, as we do ourselves, why and what the artists basically are doing, what their work talks about, and why they are doing what they are doing. We have met elderly as well as younger people who deeply analyze the works in a quite professional way. In understanding that what they see speak about themselves and their own possibilities, their own imagination and their own history and future. That despite the fact that the artists come from all over the world, we can communicate and identify with the other. It is clear that the openness and the identification with the other has reached new heights in Sète during these six past year.
If we have been able to make contemporary art and its avant-garde being discussed at the Sunday’s dinner table in many homes in Sète, then we have reached an objective that we couldn’t even think of back in 2005. We have achieved the unthinkable, the construction of a bridge between art and life, between the avant-garde and the population.
Nadia Capitaine & Jonas Stampe