as part of ACROSS #32.

From 1-17 September 2021

Since 2015, thankyouforcoming runs a critic and curatorial residency program from Nice. ACROSS (scènes de province) is a collaborative, participatory and experimental project, giving visibility to French Riviera art scenes and questioning the politics of mobility and criticality in contemporary art.

As a curator, researcher and activist, I am interested in the links between the commons, collective indebtedness and various art worlds.

(adrienne maree brown : Emergent Strategy, 2017 et Pleasure Activism, 2019 ; Dean Spade : Mutual Aid : Building Solidarity During the Crisis, 2020 ; Fred Moten et Stefano Harney : The Undercommons, 2013 ; Jean-Luc Nancy, Être singulier pluriel, 1996 ; La communauté désavouée, 2014 ; La peau fragile du monde, 2020).

These are questions shared with researchers such as Rémi Astruc in his publications Nous : l’aspiration à la communauté et les arts, 2015, or Communitas, 2021, and with artists (as demonstrated in the recent anthology There Is No Society? Individuals and Community in Pandemic Times, 2021, steirischer herbst).

Inspired and held by these foundational readings, I am curious to explore collaborative projects between the fields of the arts and those of social organizing. Indeed, I’m currently unpacking this line of inquiry, namely around the obstacles and opportunities offered by such community-based art projects (*1), through my own PhD at the EHESS (École des hautes études en sciences sociales). I’m particularly interested in the connections between art workers and activists fighting for the intersectional (*2) rights of women-identified people. This interest stems from an arts action-based research project (*3) that I led with women survivors of violence. Starting with this project, and to this day, I lead a creative writing and theatre workshop in a women’s center located in the Yvelines (78), outside Paris. The Covid pandemic has exacerbated the question of the commons, as indicated by the hyper-contemporaneity of the publications aforementioned.

Extending beyond my own situatedness, I have been taking stock of recent mutual aid initiatives related to these subjects and am reminded of the Carreau du Temple, a cultural space in Paris. When Covid struck, all cultural institutions were closed, yet the Carreau immediately opened its doors to organizations such as Aurore, Halte femmes and the Fête des Voisines. These organizations provide assistance to women-identified survivors of violence and/or who are without permanent housing, thus answering directly to the 30%+ increase in gender-based violence during the pandemic. The Carreau’s spaces were therefore transformed into places of rest, (day) care, and nourishment.

As such, in the framework of the 6th edition of the ACROSS Residency (*4) offered by the thankyouforcoming platform, I’d like to extend my inquiry to a new landscape for my research-curation (*5), namely that of Nice. My hope for this residency is to discover existing and desired initiatives within this field and to imagine collectively new approaches to mutual aid.

Unprecedented encounters rather than by immediate results will mark my time at the ACROSS residency. The stakes involve both workers and beneficiaries of dedicated (art and/or care) venues, as well as the spaces themselves (as brave spaces, places of care, of exhibitions and/or activism). To better understand the scope of this field, it seemed important to gather local actors from the respective art and social sectors so as to study their “needs” Gloria Anzaldúa, Borderlands/La Frontera : The New Mestiza) and to map their available “resources” (Vandana Shiva & Maria Mies, Ecofeminism). Based on this initial feedback, artist Jehane Yazami will imagine an illustrated map of Nice that we hope can become a tool for building collaborative and locational initiatives. Throughout this residency, Jehane and I will therefore meet these actors as well as their places of work. This map-tool will thus serve as a first method-mode of commoning — an adaptable foundation upon which the participants themselves will be able to spearhead their own community-based projects.

Jehane Yazami is a French-moroccan designer and illustrator based in Paris.
She grew up between the United States and Canada, and received a masters in Art Direction at Penninghen. Her main points of interest are ecofeminism, spirituality, mindfulness, and the ongoing research of political and social potential in art.

Furthermore, other questions will be examined so as to reinforce such collaborative practices : for instance, what learnings might stem from activist organizations with regard to dealing with gender-based violence in the art worlds ? How might social actions of solidarity within art spaces turn into long-term commitments and how to include audiences into their making ? As I begin my residency, I wonder to what extent these questions will be shared, challenged and re-articulated by our interlocutors. I am particularly interested in the site-specific stakes held within the niçois ecosystem, influenced by local government and geo-located activism. I intend to write up a report of my learnings and exchanges that I hope will translate these dialogues marked by our interlocutors’ empirical experiences.

I am particularly stimulated by the reflection and work time offered by the ACROSS Residency. It represents the opportunity to expand my knowledge of the fields committed to artistic and activist practices. I hope — to the best of my abilities and with the time allotted — to contribute to the weaving of new professional, affective, political, and perhaps even economic relations, self-managed by the involved participants willing to embrace these subject matters as a commons.

I welcome all questions, contributions, and comments regarding the methodologies and experiences elicited by this fieldwork.

With well wishes,

Madeleine Planeix-Crocker


(*1) To learn more about this subject, I’d like to recommend L’art en commun : réinventer les formes du collectif en contexte démocratique (Presses du réel, 2019) by Estelle Zhong Mengual and Scènes en partage : l’être-ensemble dans les arts performatifs contemporains (Deuxième époque, 2018), éd. Éliane Beaufils & Alix de Morant.
(*2) A concept that designated the effects of simultaneous forms of oppression and discrimination in society for reasons of gender, race, class, sexual orientation, disability, age, etc.
(*3) Art action-based research projects connect theory with artistic practice and can be collaborative in their conception. Experience as a researcher and an artist is useful in these projects so as to contribute to new methods and understandings.
(*4) A residency is a place that welcomes art workers for an action-based project. Since 2015, thankyouforcoming has offered the ACROSS Residency for curators and art critics, while granting them access to the Alpes-Maritimes contemporary art scene.
(*5) Curating is a way of imaging, crafting, and making exhibitions possible through collaboration with other art workers.

We would particularly like to thank the CIDFF Alpes-Maritimes, the Musée d’art moderne et d’art contemporain (MAMAC) and all their teams for their constant and precious support in the implementation of this project.

Image : Warm Up Session, Jean Biche w/ Madeleine Planeix-Crocker – © Martin Argyroglo – Lafayette Anticipations, 2019