Address by Frédéric Mitterrand, Minister of Culture and Communication, on the occasion of the ceremony of the remisedes insignes of Officer of Arts and Letters to Marie-Paule Jean-Louis and Chevalier des Arts et Lettres to Norma Claire.
Being of those who have never ceased to be
a memory that suddenly finally finds
the interrupted drama
to the heavy sound of chains
of the frail brigantine
mooring in the grey dawn of Anse aux Klouss
it is indeed to restore
the strong scent of the rhythm of the clear hours»
Dear Marie-Paule JEAN-LOUIS,
If in addressing you today I wanted to quote these verses of Leon-
Gontran DAMASCUS is because they carry within them the strength of what
to restore means. To restore to Guyana its riches and its history is
precisely the heart of your exemplary commitment.
An example of a scientific requirement and a passion that is often
the two essential drivers to accomplish remarkable projects and
in the cultural field, as in others.
After very successful studies in Metropolitan France – at the University of Aix-en-Provence
Provence and at the Ecole du Louvre - you get a doctorate of letters in
studies in 1987. You then make the choice to return here, to
Cayenne, to lead the Ethnological Heritage Service at the Council
Regional and create the Museum of Guyanese Cultures, labeled museum of
France in 2001.
For more than fifteen years, you have initiated and driven with talent and
the ambitious and innovative project of a society museum that knows
reflect cultural diversity and profound unity, forged by a history
hard and painful, of conquest, colonization, slavery, this
French region is so unique that is Guyana.
In order to feed the programming of the future museum, you have been able to mobilize
many researchers in the humanities from the CNRS and the University
on ethnographic surveys and collections of most objects
communities that make up Guyanese society: Amerindians,
Bushinenge, Creoles, Hmongs, Chinese, Brazilians... What makes the strength of
your work is precisely to have been able to combine scientific legitimacy and
inclusion of communities in the same project. I would like to
this title, the special attention you paid to young audiences.
The Madame Payé Street Museum has thus become, over time, a
beehive of children and young people who have come to reconnect with their
and nurture their creativity at the source of history and the arts
of Guyanese companies. These are experiences of
cultural mediation, temporary exhibitions and events
like the recent “Museum Night” that follows one another, and
the institution all its legitimacy in the opinion. It is also for you
the opportunity to experience the pedagogical methods
better able to interest the young audience.
The irreplaceable collections you have built up with the
Participation of all quickly found itself cramped in its provisional premises.
Reserves had to be relocated to an outdoor building - managed
in an exemplary manner despite reduced means. For the collections
as for visitors, we had to think of more suitable places.
This is how the project for a new, larger, more
a tool for education and cultural dissemination, a place of
reception and introduction to Guyana for French tourists and
on the one hand, a place of memory and pride for the Guyanese.
I must say that this trip strengthens my conviction
that a new recomposition of community consciences is in
and that it is the carrier of a new dynamic of
perceptions of identity. The fact that a large museum is dedicated here to
Cayenne is clearly a priority.
Dear Marie-Paule Jean-Louis, it is precisely with constancy and
the energy you need to carry out the design
the new museum’s scientific and cultural
prestigious international scientific council.
Today, thanks to you, everything is ready to be written a new
page of the brilliant history of this museum, based on a «great project»
led, with the enthusiastic support of my ministerial department,
by the Guyanese territorial authorities - Regional Council and Council
general -, in order to reinvest the premises, in the heart of Cayenne,
the former Jean Martial Hospital, dear to the Guyanese. It will also be the point of
a restoration of the Place des Palmistes, for which my
The Ministry will help the city.
A real great project, the Museum of Guyanese Cultures will cover,
within a single institution, the entire spectrum of heritage
as defined by UNESCO, and which is at the heart of its
transmission ambition: oral memory, languages, stories and
legends, songs, as well as the testimony of craftsmanship
and domestic. It will also be the place of memory
written from Guyana, with the departmental archives, and his memory
material, building on the complementarity of the museum’s collections
Alexander Franconia. Such a project, which will also allow the
conservation of a major monument of the Guyanese metropolis,
will certainly help to offer Cayenne an international readability
While conducting this great project, it is also to the whole of life
that Madame Jean-Louis is making a contribution
through its presence and action in the Committee on
Plastic Arts, Board of Directors of the Amazonian Park of Guyana,
of the Museums Commission, as well as the
Auxence Contout College. It is in the service of all that it deploys
not to mention his energy.
It is thanks to you, Marie-Paule Jean-Louis, to your competence, to your
commitment, to your perseverance, that the great project of the Museum of
Guyanese cultures is now possible. Your role in the
the cultural landscape of Guyana today is
The Republic has already honoured you with National Merit; the
Minister of Culture and Communication cannot do less than
to distinguish you in turn. Marie-Paule Jean-Louis
on behalf of the French Republic, Officer in the Order of
Arts and Letters.
Dear Norma CLAIRE,
Dance is the most sublime, the most beautiful, the most moving of all
arts, because it is not a simple translation or abstraction of life,
it is life itself”. This is how a stimulating book opens
written in 1923 entitled Dance and Life. You incarnate in your own way
this encounter between choreography and life, between the sublimated body and the
body. You are indeed, dear Norma Claire, one of the great
ambassadors of Guyanese dance. Your qualities are recognized here in
Guyana but also in metropolitan France, where you implement several
training and creative projects in different regions. You have a
unique place, a recognized action within the choreographic universe
of our country.
Today I would like to pay tribute to your work in
the influence of a multicultural, mixed contemporary dance
the image of this region where Amerindian, Creole, and
African and European. You are constantly expressing concern
renewed openness and modernity that led you to be interested
hip-hop and urban dances.
You have collaborated for 15 years on artistic adventures within
Creole and African ballets and participated in Elsa’s creations
Wolliaston, before creating your own company, the Norma Company
Claire, in 1992. Since then, you have never stopped questioning in your
works the questions of identity, creole and mestization, to
the great questions posed by your roots, but also by
listening to the questions of the cultural world at a time of
knowledge and cultures. Indeed, the standardization of lifestyles and
social practices invite creators more than ever to focus on
the body, about identity, about origins, about what makes and nourishes
You count to your credit more than ten choreographic pieces, diffused
in Europe, the Caribbean and South America, especially in Brazil
in the context of the Year of France, these intersecting years in which
knows the role in dialogue and in the encounter between creators.
Your latest creation, the duo Uma, Uma with the choreographer
Mozambican Maria-Helena Pinto, perfectly illustrates the success of a
creative process that is nourished by openness to others and dialogue
between crops. Your research work, supported through the
support for the creation of my ministry, was dedicated this year. You
have become the first Guyanese dance company
by the Ministry of Culture and Communication.
You are not only a talented artist but also a
committed citizen, an ardent advocate of training through the arts and
culture, a “culture smuggler”. You put your passion and your
energy in the development of dance in Guyana and you have
worked for its influence in France and abroad.
For the past ten years, you have been conducting
dance awareness, from kindergarten to high school, of which more than 5
000 young people have benefited. You have also undertaken a vast
Urban Dance and Hip Hop Awareness Campaign at
the entire department. You have set up training for
support emerging companies and artists, to enable
continuity of action with young people. You embody the idea
which there can be no cultural democratization without
appropriation of culture by each spectator, by each citizen.
In this way you are admirably reflecting the demands of arts education and
support for amateur practice in the service of creation.
You are also concerned about social integration through
artistic. Since the implementation of the national call for projects For a
cultural dynamic in the neighbourhoods in 2009, you propose
Afro-contemporary dance workshops for young audiences in
difficulty of Cayenne. I must also mention the remarkable project
Dancing the city, this new field of creation for dance but also
for other artistic forms, whether they are street arts, but
visual arts or photography. You then invested with
success of the Cayenne urban space, mobilizing all cultures and
all communities, creating this “natural poetics” of which the
poet Edouard Glissant about the Creole language.
You are also on the initiative of the Rencontres de danses métisses, which are
a magnificent window on the global choreographic landscape. They
allow the arrival of renowned French and foreign choreographers but
also greater visibility for choreographers and dancers
Guyana. I know that this festival has received the European Year label
2008 of intercultural dialogue. I also know that it has received attention
and state support, and I can assure you that will be the case in the future.
Your creativity in dialogue, your constantly renewed ambition
for dance, your commitment to its dissemination to all
public admiration. They are being greeted today by the Minister
of Culture and Communication.
So it is with great pride that I make you, Norma Claire,
Knight in the Order of Arts and Letters.