by Virginie Michelet
There were three thousand of them, on 25 and 26 November, who thronged to see the 85 contemporary works of art presented at a temporary gallery in the centre of Marseille. Since when has an exhibition of young contemporary artists aroused such excitement? Ever since Emmanuelle Saint Denis, founder of Mouv'art, and her accomplices of Marseille Off 2013 decided to organize the first "Trocade" in France. What is a trocade (something similar to a sudden racing of the pulse, the instant attraction that whispers in the ear of a fan)? Imagine that you absolutely want one of the art-works on display (and yes, it is in the realm of the possible because quality was the order of the day, quality for which the sponsor, Gerard Traquandi, was one of the guarantors). So you want it. So you spend five Euros on a block of post-its and you write down what you could barter in exchange for the work of art you so desire on some of the stickies. Then you let yourself dream.
It's true, I was there. I saw the post-its: "your table against my mother-in-law for a weekend or ... lessons in Italian", "150 sq.meter house in Saint ... + garden + kitchen garden + a lifelong live-in relationship", "I offer Polynesian shamanic massages and/or Kundalini yoga", "one week in my apartment in Venice near the Grand Canal", "lunch daily for six months or more, negotiable", "an exhibition in my gallery "... and many, many more.
I was really touched by the testimony of some of the people I met by chance: "I let myself be dragged here by my friend; I'm not keen on art because it bores me. But this is different. For someone with a life that is rather orderly, like myself, being here all of a sudden is like clearing the cobwebs from my head", "What I really like is that everyone is talking to each other ... ". After spending two hours to compose just two post-its, someone came up to me, with great hesitation, "I've stuck my offers on top of the others near the two paintings that I adore, do you think I stand a chance of being accepted?". For it is the artists, of course, who will choose the most tempting offer. "The instant attraction works both ways", Emmanuelle Saint-Denis says to me.
As for me, I looked at all these people who were admiring the compositions, gauging them in the light of their offers, their desires, scribbling on a post-it, then tearing it up and choosing another, and finally pasting it on the wall, nonchalantly, or carefully, or eagerly, like a game, or a joke, or picturing that they are meeting the artist, talking with him or her, winning the bid hands down in this novel kind of auction that is a far cry from the system through which we navigate through fair wind or foul... Seeing everyone so liberated, so happy, amused and enthusiastic, I couldn't help thinking that they were like a bunch of overgrown children playing at pinning their hopes on a wall, like pilgrims to Jerusalem, who place their slips of paper in the interstices of a famous wall of a far different kind. And all at once, there was no longer a question of intellectual judgment, of strolling through a space too big, too empty, that dictates what one should think. It was all about fun and simplicity. Was it because no one talked about money anymore? Was it because, suddenly, the visitors felt involved, active, creative? I came out of this Trocade with my heart shaken, with the certainty that I had just heard one of those almost inaudible signals that, by force of converging, become stronger, make the old systems tremble and create the paradigms of the future.