Jean Blaise - Street Culture
"The best way to share art is to go and meet people in a public place." This is the formula that Jean Blaise, the Artistic Director, seems to have very quickly adopted and confirmed. Since his first encounter with the art scene, he has not stopped passing on what he considers to be a miracle.
With the Le Havre 2017 event, Jean Blaise will once again surprise and offer the unexpected to a curious, eclectic and ever increasing audience. An event to discover from May 2017!
"I was born in Algeria in a very happy family environment. I got into Art somewhat by accident: my parents didn't go to see shows, there weren't books at home! We arrived in France in 1962 where I became friends with a boy from a middle-class liberal family: at their house, there were piles of books everywhere, Bach records were playing, Lui magazines and above all the book by Malcolm Lowry, Au-dessous du volcan.
This was probably the trigger: I realized that there were worlds which I knew nothing about, a real miracle that I wanted to share so that everyone would have the chance to access them.
After my studies in Bordeaux, I managed several cultural centres (in mainland France and in Guadeloupe). I straight away had a taste for the team and teamwork.
Then my adventure in Nantes began, a city that was, at the time, very sleepy. There, we founded the Maison de la culture then a travelling national stage on the outskirts: from La Roche-sur-Yon to Saint-Nazaire, we needed to reinvent depending on the needs of each town. In 1989, in Nantes, we created the Festival des Allumées which, for each edition, highlighted a global city and its artistic scene from 6pm to 6am. The works are visible in unlikely places, industrial wasteland. From the first year, the image of the city changed and seemed younger, more innovative.
We continued the adventure with the Festival Fin de siècle; the last edition, in 2000, ended with the opening of the Lieu unique (Unique place), a former Lu biscuit factory in Nantes. The idea was to reinvent the Maison de la culture. We designed it as a space for artistic exploration open all the time, a place of life, we wanted people to feel at home there: moreover, each module represented a living room. Exploring the neighbouring territory, we then wanted to implement a Nantes metropolis concept in Saint-Nazaire: creating an event which would allow us to identify this land with the Loire, the estuary, an extraordinary but little known landscape. We had major artists working in situ like Daniel Buren. Moreover, 30 works were preserved on site.
Aware that art and tourism were intimately linked, the Voyage à Nantes structure was created in 2011 to merge cultural bodies and the tourism office. However, a key moment was required to make this project happen: the Le Voyage à Nantes event was born the following year. It is a 15km route in the city, in the cultural and heritage sites, but also installations in public spaces, in order to enrich the city's form. The impact on tourist numbers was undeniable: 40% more overnight stays in 5 years!
In 2011, the Mayor of Le Havre asked me to participate in the Les Assises de la culture (Cultural Forum) which took place in her city, as she wanted Le Havre to get back on track. The beginnings of Le Havre 2017..."
Le Havre 2017: A City in Celebration
The port and the city of Le Havre were founded by Francis I of France in 1517. To celebrate the 500th anniversary in a dignified way, the mayor called on the creator of the White Night! Here, again, Jean Blaise will occupy the major sites and museums of the city, while making the street his playground. The artistic director has carte blanche and has chosen, as a guiding thread, the interpretation of a situation and the territory.
"The artists see above us, they can reveal a city. It's also essential that the residents are involved. We have, for example, a graphic work on the beach huts of Le Havre, action driven by one of the territory stakeholders, the festival, Une Saison Graphique. The tone is set according to a clever formula.”
The great parade of the first day orchestrated by the Art Point M collective has selected volunteers participating after a casting: they will parade with costumes which represent the architectural richness of the city. The schedule is being announced, punctuated with artistic interventions, prestigious exhibitions and nautical events. Among the highlights of Le Havre 2017, the Chinese artist Cai Guo Qiang is offering silent fireworks during the day which interpret, in the sky, the famous painting by Monet, Impression, Sunrise, painted in Le Havre in 1872 – which will be exhibited for the occasion with other renowned impressionists at the MuMa.
Also worth noting, Stéphane Thidet is bringing a fountain with two very powerful jets back to life, which collide and form a water wheel. And the celebration would not be complete without the anticipated participation of the Royal de Luxe troupe and its famous giants.
3 words to define your work? "Staging of cities"
The inspiration to find new ideas? "Consider everything as an adventure"
3 words to define Le Havre 2017? "The city aloft"
"I am struck by the amount of air each time I come. It is an extraordinary city full of paradoxes. Vast, wide and sometimes deserted streets, yet a city on a human scale. This city – a UNESCO World Heritage Site – is of an incredible architectural richness (Auguste Perret, Oscar Niemeyer) with this immense port and its cargo ships that you always see from afar. You feel as though you are at the edge of the world, or, at any rate, the edge of France!”
My Favorite Places
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