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¡Viva Villa! : a vibrant and sensitive exhibition

Until February 12, the Lambert collection hosts the Biennial’s exhibition ¡ Viva Villa! is unique in that it brings together works from the latest classes of prestigious residencies: Villa Kujoyama in Kyoto, Villa Medici in Rome and Casa de Valásquez in Madrid. Far from juxtaposing the creations in the image of a promotional outlet, Victorine Grataloup has succeeded in the challenge of bringing them together under a common thread that gives the exhibition its name. What we value”. An eclectic cocktail, certainly, but fascinating by the mirror it reflects on the transitions in progress in society.

At its inception in 2016, the goal of ¡ Viva Villa! was to show, to make tangible the work – and thus the interest – of the residences in places that are known to be above all prestigious, such as Villa Kujoyama in Kyoto, Villa Medici in Rome and Casa de Valásquez in Madrid. Today, the grouped presentation of 71 artists-creators-researchers offers above all a troubling insight into the transformations at work in our societies.

Giving to see


The primary objective of these programs is to offer time for research rather than an obligation to produce. To trace a creative path, the maturity of a reflection, and to make it intelligible to the general public is an ambitious objective. The curator in charge of giving coherence to the whole takes up a major challenge: imposed artists (the last residents of the three places), no specific orders, and to order a choice of eclectic works, passing by the plasticians, the designers, the architects, the performers…

View of the atrium of the Lambert Collection, Berger & Berger architecture © Collection Lambert

After three editions on an annual rhythm, a new model has been proposed: a festival transformed into a biennial, perpetuating this presentation at the Collection Lambert in Avignon, and combining meetings and performances during the opening weekend with an exhibition in place for several months now. But this time, the choice of the person in charge of the police station has is the subject of a call for applications for a residency. Victorine Grataloup inaugurated the concept, and with brio, as evidenced by the current exhibition until February 12. By meeting the residents in each place, by taking the time to exchange with each one, by letting them choose to participate and to choose their piece, she imagined a journey structured in four chapters, which echoes Emilie Hache’s book “Ce à quoi nous tenons” (What we value), which is the title of the exhibition.



The visit starts with a strong intention for this first chapter called “Taking into account the voices that are missing from the call to “evoke a reassignment of our attentions, to hear, listen again, look at those, those and what have not been listened to until now” as Victorine Grateloup evokes it: the possibility of enunciation is questioned for example from the question of breath, with notably a work of Marielle Macé (resident at the Villa Médicis) on “Breath in / speak”, which evokes the circulation of the air, also playing on graphics, punctuation. We will then find the representation of portraits of individuals (cf Apolonia Sokol, resident at Villa Medici) or communities. Victoria Gatraloup notes particularly the place given to rural territories in the research of creators with notably the videos Emma Dusong (resident at the Casa de Valásquez) with “Los Escondites (The hiding places).”

Apolonia Sokol (Villa Medici), If You Don't Like Strangers, 2021-2022, Oil on canvas, 45 × 35 cm © Apolonia Sokol, Photo Kayhan Kaygusuz / The Pill Courtesy of the artist and The Pill
Alexandru Balgiu (Villa Kujoyama), Risophonic work session, September 2021 © Villa Kujoyama, 2022



The second chapter recalls the importance of inscribing “a common history”, which evokes according to the Commissioner of “shared geo-histories, trajectories of people, techniques or forms, having crossed with more or less violence the borders from one country to another, from one medium to another, from one technique to another.” We will remember the architectural fragments of the duo of architects Alice Grégoire and Clément Périssé of the Cookies collective (Villa Médicis), who worked on the materials used in the construction of the Villa Médicis, and questioned in particular the artisanal techniques of insulation.

Les messagers, Installation view for the exhibition of the residents of Villa Medici, June 2022 © Evangelia Kranioti, Adagp Paris, 2022, Photo : Daniele Molajoli

Also worth seeing is the video by Evangelia Kranioti (Villa Medici), which stages the wanderings of immigrants in the Eternal City, holding plaster antique statues in their arms, questioning the relationship to time, place, history that is written in the present, and skillfully putting into perspective the famous proverb “all roads lead to Rome.” We will also note the work of Bady Dalloul “Ahmad the Japanese”: Ahmad is a fictional character, but the result of a “This work is an aggregate of stories of people of Syrian origin whom the artist met during her residency at Villa Kujoyama, and of personal experiences.s.” In the examples of formal migrations of Anne-James Chaton, who works from poor writings (cash register receipts, transport card…) from which he comes to draw a narrative, a fiction.



The third part, the chapter called “Knowing if we can live together”, deals with the question of war and more broadly with conflictuality. And in particular, the counterpart of the war that is the withdrawal on the space of the intimate. Jacques Julien (Villa Medici), with his Studiolo, reproduces his artist’s studio in a 3D model and almost positions the visitor as a voyeur. Further on, Clara Marciano (Casa de Valásquez) puts graphite on the paper of nightmarish imaginations.

Clara Marciano (Casa de Velázquez), Paseo, 2021, Pencil (detail), © Clara Marciano, Photo: Liza Ambrossio
Jacques Julien (Villa Médicis), Le Nuage en herbe, 2008, Mixed media © Jacques Julien, ADAGP Paris 2022 Photo : Marc Domage

Finally, the course closes with “Reopening the question of means and ends”, which returns to the question of both on “extractivism” (large-scale overexploitation of natural resources) as well as on the question of the use of waste, and the conditions of production. Thus Ivan Castinerias presents a video on the impact of a lithium mine in Galicia, both on the landscape and on the social structure. Further on the designer Mathieu Peyroulet Ghilini who pushes the formal research of the function merged with the material, until its virtual disappearance. This last room also presents a workshop by Charlie Aubry with a micro-school gathering children with complex educational backgrounds.

Charlie Aubry (Villa Medici), Stratodrunkaster, 2013, Sound installation, undetermined duration
Charlie Aubry, ADAGP Paris 2022

A very dense exhibition, an eclectic panorama, which, in a great diversity of media, forms a curious snapshot of the world, and the reflections which agitate it.

Nathalie Degardin