Montresso* Art Foundation and Dominique Zinkpè in conversation with 1-54

Opening on the 19 February and running until the 31 March 2018, IN-DISCIPLINE #1 is an itinerant support programme to creation and diffusion initiated by Fondation Montresso*.

For the first edition, Montresso* Art Foundation invites the artist Dominique Zinkpè to select and sponsor four Beninese artists Ishola Akpo, Charly d’Almeida, Gérard Quenum and Nathanaël Vodouhé.

In interview with 1-54, Estelle Guilié (Artistic Director at Montresso* Art Foundation) and artist Dominique Zinkpè delve into the mission of the foundation and the ideas behind IN-DISCIPLINE #1.

Watch here a teaser video for IN-DISCIPLINE #1

The exhibition space of Montresso* Art Foundation was inaugurated only a couple of years ago, in 2016. How was this space conceived and what are its ambitions?

EG: The opening in 2016 is actually the cornerstone of a more ambitious project, this will be completed by a space that could accommodate the permanent collection of the Foundation, as well as temporary exhibitions; another building will hold a bookstore. The project as a whole is dedicated to both resident and guest artists. We aim that by opening this space to the public we can develop an immersive cultural experience.

Can you please talk about the artist residency of Jardin Rouge and what’s the relationship between the foundation and its artists?

EG: The artist residency Jardin Rouge was created by the Fondation Montresso* in 2009, it’s a creative laboratory that offers space for research but also means of diffusion. The residency programme hosts nearly thirty artists per season in seven studios. This is a hybrid place where artists can experiment with different materials and techniques and, we accompany them long-term in the development of a personal artistic project.

Dominique Zinkpè, Atelier at Jardin Rouge. Courtesy Fondation Montresso © Fanny Lopez

During 1-54 Marrakech, the foundation will open the first edition of ‘IN-DISCIPLINE #1’ curated by artist Dominique Zinkpè. What are the ideas behind this programme of exhibitions?

EG: IN-DISCIPLINE is an itinerant programme to support creation and diffusion, aimed at visual artists in a first triennial phase in Africa. Our aim is to build strong relationships with other partners on the continent and in other regions, in order to give voice to the diversity of new emerging discourses. On this occasion, five artists from Benin were welcomed at Jardin Rouge in November 2017 and January 2018. Their works will be exhibited in the Montresso* Art Space for the first edition of the programme.

How was your collaboration with Jardin Rouge and with Montresso* Art Foundation?

DZ: Rather unexpected. Khalid Tamer arrived as an emissary and tried to meet the cultural actors of Benin. The Foundation then invited me and asked me to suggest some artists to participate in the IN-DISCIPLINE programme. I chose young artists with a solid base and a universal discourse. As a cultural producer engaged in my country, I have found the project very stimulating as I believe there is a real lack of connection between North and sub-Sahrian Africa: a door has been opened by the Foundation. The collaboration was very good as Jardin Rouge is a great place where artists have the opportunity to experiment and self-doubt in order to improve their practice.

In what ways your work as a curator differs or is similar to your artistic practice?

DZ: I consider myself just as a visual artist. But my experience as an artist in Benin has pushed me to become an activist in the cultural field. For me it’s a necessity to commit with other artists of my country and for me this chance was a way to support my country’s cultural productions. Unfortunately, there’s a lack of adequate infrastructure in Benin for artists, but this shouldn’t put into question the cultural abundance and the diversity of creative expressions. Through the Montresso* Art Foundation, Morocco has extended a hand to Benin and I had to take it.

Dominique Zinkpè. Courtesy Fondation Montresso

The artists included in this exhibition are four Beninese artists: Ishola Akpo, Charly d’Almeida, Gérard Quenum and Nathanaël Vodouhé. What do you think is the relationship between the North African art scene and cultural productions from other African countries?

EG: The mission of the Foundation is to give space to the artists beyond borders, to form a single contemporary creation. The first edition of IN-DISCIPLINE is a crosscutting project that gives a look at Marrakech and Cotonou from a Beninese point of view.

Marrakech has rapidly expanding as one of the continent’s capitals for contemporary art, thanks to the Marrakech Biennale, newly opened museums and with the arrival of 1-54. Why has this city become such an attractive hub for artists, curators and collectors?

EG: Local cultural producers have played an important role in this development. Making Marrakech a cultural city is the desire of many protagonists, whether private or public. In fact Marrakech has always been a meeting place, a crossing point between the South, North, West and East. Today, it has all the assets to position itself as the essential platform for the promotion of contemporary art in Africa.

Nathanael Vodouhe, Serie Cigarettes, 2017, mixed mediat on burnt wood. Courtesy Fondation Montresso

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