Exhibition celebrates Marseille as 'gateway to the Global South'

By Melissa Chemam - RFI
France  RFIMelissa Chemam
© RFI/Melissa Chemam

Visitors to Marseille's art venue, La Friche la Belle de Mai, can expect visual arts, performances, films and more in a gigantic space at the heart of the mediterranean city. Until June, they can also discover the work of the overseas French artists shaping the latest programme: "A Field of Islands". 

French Caribbean and Reunion Island artists will be featured over the spring as part of two exhibitions, as well as a lineup of performances and events.

The venue's director, Alban Corbier-Labasse, said the exhibitions focus on the idea that Marseille is the gateway to the Global South.

The exhibitions span sculpture, painting, documentary photography, installations and films.

"Aster Aterla" ("Here and Now" in the Creole of Reunion Island), curated by Julie Crenn, consists of mainly paintings and installations from Reunion, while "Grains of Dust on the Sea", curated by Arden Sherman, is made up of contemporary sculptures and photographs from the French Caribbean and Haiti.

Marseille's 'third space'

La Friche is a 45,000 square metre urban cultural space created in 1992 in a former tobacco factory near a Marseille neighbourhood known as La Belle de Mai.

It is seen as a "third place", a location for social interaction away from work and home. 

Open year round, La Friche provides workspaces for 70 resident organisations made up of 400 artists, producers and employees, and hosts up to 600 creative events each year. 

With a year round presence of creative activity, artistic residents, called frichistes, form a thriving artistic hub that has been an essential part of La Friche since its conception.

Almost half a million people visit the venue each year for its performance spaces, training centre, community garden, playground and athletic space, restaurant, bookstore and daycare, as well as 2,400 square metres of exhibition space and an 8,000 square metre rooftop.