Un Anglais à Marseille #4
Prof d’anglais et coursier à vélo à Marseille, Rory Launder livre son regard sur la ville tout en vous donnant une occasion de réviser votre anglais toutes les deux semaines. Pour ce quatrième épisode, direction le Chapitre, à la découverte d’une nouvelle galerie d’art.
Turning left out of rue d’Abeilles onto rue du Coq I’m greeted by a cornucopia of the young and the beautiful. Two packs split by the road. The right slightly smaller, leaning against walls / cars, lurking, looking stylish, smoking. N’Nonmiton from META amongst their ranks. The left larger and better lit (by an orange neon demarking the gallery’s entrance) bodies straight, heads moving left and right – a gaggle of geese – necks turning in unison to look and be looked at.
I see a bicycle I recognise, and attach mine to it.
From above one could study this mob mentality and its movements: the schooling of fish, the self-organising systems of chaos theory, the clouds of Jupiter, their ebbs and flows. Some stay central, mini pillars about which we circle. Others entwining themselves, spinning, squeezing. Little knots of people forming, before twisting again, spilling some members, and reforming, or drifting off to sit on steps and drink canettes. Satellite clusters peripheral, too shy or disinterested to penetrate. There’s talk of HLM (recent past) and Embobineuse (near future).
I’m thankful for a call of “Rory!” She’s in denim hot-pants and truck-driver hat (as always). I wriggle into the centre to start what becomes a ‘faire la bise’ festival. Adjacent in striking midnight-blue eyeshadow, matching the dress, we turn. There’s no one I know well enough to spend more that forty seconds with, so with ‘les bises’ done, I’m propelled staggering from the mêlée.
Tagging onto a mini-group of three, all sportswear, hoops, and lacquered curls on foreheads, I have warm memories of England: rude-girl is still a look. The trainers have got bigger and uglier, but the leggings, puffy jackets and the stance: hands on hips, shoulders up and rolling, chin forward, bum poked out, remain. I notice suddenly one hooped earing is missing. There’s only five out of six. “New fashion?” I ask excitedly. “No, broken” the matter-of-fact reply. Oh well.
A friend arrives and we slip to the outer rim, 28 rue de Coq. Broad entrance, strong wooden double doors, old-style brass buttons to ring, no camera or microphone. Stone, mini balconies, carved awnings. This was once a rich area. Black railings, window baskets, everything blackened by smog. Metres away la Rotonde, churning its own sort of meetings. Un-exotic men driving unusually slowly, in search of something quick and exotic. “They say it changes when the sun goes down around here” but from what I can tell, it’s all day every day.
Sissi Club, 18 rue du Coq, is run by two art historians Élise Poitevin and Anne Vimeux. “We found that there is no place in Marseille that gives visibility to students of ESADMM. La MAD closed four years ago, and has not been replaced. This is a university with huge potential, one that must be given space to develop.” First Sight a series of three exhibitions uniting eight selected artists questioning the theme of ‘bad taste’. “Differences in perception based on social hierarchy and cultural
capital, with Marseille being marginalised as kitsch, working-class, and non-intellectual.” Neïla Czermak Ichti drawing the family at home in their pyjamas, in biro on cereal boxes. Léna Gayaud eschewing a perfect finish, preferring to leave traces of the production process, revindicating ‘badly-made’ things. Alexandre Lazo-Guillemette favouring craftsmanship, the manual over the intellectual.
Sissi’s ethos is undeniably punk. It’s handmade on a shoestring. An association that is yet to receive any funding from the city. They only signed the lease a month ago. Despite this neglect it’s proper, it’s professional. The city won’t provide somewhere for its artists to exhibit? Fine then, we’ll do it ourselves. “We want to become professional together, to give the opportunity to collaborate between artists and curators. For our generation, by our generation. Our artists, our curators. We are the ones who understand the logic of our generation.”
Sissi Club is open Wednesday to Sunday from 14.00 to 18.00. The second instalment of First Sight featuring Remy Bourakba, Juliette Coutaudier, and Lola Cuallado will vernissage the 17th of May. Emil David and Alexis Liger will follow in June.