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Marseille 2013 OFF

The alternative art scene is organized in Marseilles 2013, underlined by the fact that it created an alternative opening prior to the official opening of Marseilles 2013. Along with its own communication platform (see website), this organisation has all the strength to sustain its criticism of Marseilles 2013. As Ulrich Fuchs acknowledges, and it does so with a good sense of humour. In one way it can be assumed that this alternative subscribes to similar alternative organizations like the one for the other Nobel Peace Prize. Such a philosophy is not founded on a strict anti-establishment basis, but seeks to give true recognition to artistic aspirations. Too often many talents go unnoticed. An explanation for that can be attributed to the praxis within established institutes and other social forms which tend to strangle rather than encourage creativity. Altogether it reflects as well the great tendency and at the same time risk to favour only an one-sided valorization of culture which favours only the well known, often also only most popular and therefore in dependency to the rules of the game only the already established.


Marseille 2013 OFF

The story of its beginning is described on their website as follows:

"Tout a commencé en 2004 quand Eric Pringels, Martin Carrese et Antonin Doussot ont déposé le nom de domaine Marseille 2013, en misant sur la candidature de Marseille comme Capitale Européenne de la Culture en 2013. Ces trois là voulaient mettre en avant les artistes marseillais. On connait la suite : la candidature de Marseille a été sélectionnée... et retenue. Face au refus de Marseille Provence 2013 d' intégrer le projet Marseille 2013 dans la programmation officielle, Martin Carrese et consorts ont décidé en 2009 de créer un festival Off, le Off de Marseille 2013."


It says all started in 2004 when three persons, Eric Pringels, Martin Carrese and Antonin Doussot deposed the name Marseilles 2013 to put forward the city as candidate for the title of European Capital of Culture in 2013. These three were linked to the artists of Marseille. One knows what followed: Marseilles was selected... and then kept back. Faced by the refusal of Marseilles Province 2013 to integrate the project Marseilles 2013 into the official program, Martin Carresse and his friends decided in 2009 to create the festival OFF, le Off de Marseille 2013.



How then is the relationship between Marseilles Province 2013 and Marseilles 2013 OFF?

Interview with Ulrich Fuchs

Welt: It is grinding between the various participating cities of Marseille-Provence 2013...

Ulrich Fuchs: Between Aix and Marseille there prevails already for a long time such tension. That is nothing new in this region, that if one looks beyond the edge of one's own plate and cooperates with the other, that is considered by some as if the "cultural capital” is something like a Trojan Horse of Metropolitan expansion: the mayors of the provinces do not want that to happen, especially if among other reasons the government wants to push that through and subsequently steps on people's toes, so to speak.

Welt: Many artists in Marseilles are dissatisfied and even bitter about the Cultural Capital project

Ulrich Fuchs: Resistance and criticism stem from various cultural quarters of Marseilles. That I consider to be a kind of anthropological constant of every Cultural Capital, since the local artists are naturally never satisfied with the extent to which they are included in the project. One has to make clear to the local artists through often painful discussion processes, that this is not Capitale Provencale de la Culture and also not Capitale Francaise de la Culture, but Capitale Europeenne, or in our case even Capitale Euromediterrannéenne de la Culture. In other words, one has to find the balance between local and international artists, and given a limited budget, that it is impossible to fulfil all demands. That leads to conflicts and disputes, which are well known to every curator.

Welt: What do people of Marseilles complain about the most? The construction sites? The missing dialogue with the population?

Ulrich Fuchs: Marseilles is a city which does not have exactly a huge critical public. One can indeed ask critically: if the project Cultural Capital serves gentrification, something one does not really want, and what does modernisation imply? One of the strong points which emerged out of these debates is that already from the beginning there constituted itself a group which calls itself "Marseille 2013 Off". And they ascertain that the Cultural Capital project has merely economic and tourist related goals (something I can affirm and which I find as well as being the right thing to do). They organise an Off for those, who are not considered enough by this program or else not even included. However, they do not understand themselves as a permanent spike in the meat of the official cultural capital program, but rather as a kind of complementation. We have to the organisers if not a friendly then at least a collegial relationship. And I shall go to their opening, which shall be one day prior to ours.

Welt: In what kind of form do these Off-events present themselves?

Ulrich Fuchs: Partly with a great deal of humour. In our organisation I miss at times humour or something like self irony when doing the programming, and the Off-people have taken up clichés about Marseilles by means of concepts and linguistic games. I feel entertained when I look at their websites, and I do this at times more often than at our own website.


Source: „Fight for Marseille: Colonial heritage, Right wing radicalism, Nazi past, but equally new museums in the Mediterranean space – Is Marseille a "European Cultural Capital City" against its own will?” by Werner Bloch


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