Marseille art festival tells migrant stories with an Olympic twist

The Spring Contemporary Art Festival – also known as PAC – showcases emerging and well-known artists around dozens of venues in a three-week festival of creativity across south-east France. This year, with the Olympic Games on the horizon, sport has inspired the program, as well as Marseille's migrant-rich identity.

Marseille is not historically known as a hotspot for the visual arts. The southern French metropolis's dynamic culture is more centred around food, music, football and its beautiful port and seaside.

But during PAC, more than 160 artists from the emerging French and international scene take centre stage, with free events across the city's cultural venues and public spaces.

Decolonial art

Belsunce, a neighbourhood in the heart of Marseille, is a focal point for the contemporary art festival this year.

La Compagnie is one of Belsunce's iconic galleries participating in PAC.

Gallery director Paul Emmanuel Odin said that he has watched children grow up in the immigrant neighbourhood over the decades.

"They are now 30-years-old, like La Compagnie. They tell us what they care about," he said.

"Our projects obviously have a decolonial dimension due to our location in this district of Marseille. We see ourselves as a refuge for immigrants, artists, queer people, racialised people and the most vulnerable."

La Compagnie's artist in focus, Dalila Mahdjoub, has been linked to the art venue for more than 20 years.

Her show is inspired by a photograph of an internment camp taken in colonial French Algeria by her father and aims to rebalance power in the history of colonisation through language, visuals, films and archives.


Read more on RFI English

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