Dear Pierre Buhler, President of the Institut Français,
Dear Christopher Miles, Director General of the Palais de Tokyo,
Dear Laure Prouvost, dear Martha Kirszenbaum,
Ladies and gentlemen,
It is a great pleasure for me to be here with you this morning.
And even though I won’t be able to attend the whole press conference, I wanted to be there.
The pleasure I feel is the pleasure we all have of Laure Prouvost being France’s ambassador for the upcoming Venice Biennale – one of the most iconic international contemporary art events.
Dear Laure, you have been chosen because your dazzling career reflects the dynamism of the French art scene.
We were able to get an idea here at the Palais de Tokyo last summer with your last personal exhibition.
Your work uses many mediums: film, installation, drawing, tapestry, ceramics, photography, collage and text.
Language is one of your favourite materials: you handle it with humour.
You are helping to write a new story about the woman, the artist-woman, and from the point of view of women.
For this French Pavilion, your project will – I’m sure – surprise us once again.
With Martha Kirszenbaum, whom you have chosen to accompany you, you will continue to explore the notions of identity and language that permeate your work.
We can rejoice that this year it is an artist who represents our country in Venice.
I would like us to say that there is nothing exceptional about that.
Yet you are only the third woman in the history of the French Pavilion.
The last time was over 10 years ago, with Sophie Calle, in 2007.
The first time was Annette Messager, in 2005. She won the Lion d'Or. And that’s all we wish you, dear Laure.
Entrusting you with the French Pavilion is a symbol.
In the visual arts as in other arts, women remain less represented, less programmed, less rewarded than men.
So yes, we are making progress. But we are not making progress fast enough.
We must act with determination.
This is what we do, when we set numerical targets to advance the share of women in the programming of labeled structures.
I am committed to strengthening the place of women in creating…
…as much as I am determined to strengthen the place of artists in our society.
To this end, the Ministry of Culture is active in the field of visual arts:
- Through our art schools,
- Through our FRAC (Fonds régionaux d'art contemporain),
- Through our art centres, such as the Palais de Tokyo, which welcomes us today; this Palais which has done so much for the French scene, and will continue to do so,
- Through our national collections,
- Through the Institut français, which supports the international career of French artists,
- And by all our artist residencies, for which I will soon announce a new national and international ambition.
It is in these places of creation, of diffusion, of transmission that the talents are revealed.
This is where creative freedom is vigorously exercised.
It is particularly strong in France.
It is up to us to ensure that it can express itself in the best possible way – by improving the professional integration of our artists, in particular.
This will be one of the issues that will be considered by the National Council of Visual Arts Professions.
On the occasion of its installation in a few weeks, I will return to the priorities which, in my opinion, must guide the policy of the Ministry in favour of the visual arts and artists.
The French Pavilion is also an opportunity to showcase the French visual arts scene.
This is the joint ambition of the Ministry of Culture and the Ministry of Europe and Foreign Affairs.
They co-organize the French Pavilion of the Venice Biennale, operated by the French Institute – which I would like to thank.
This French scene is diverse, bold, passionate, bubbling with creativity.
This French scene, you two play it beautifully.
You have the particularity of having first built your career abroad.
You are young, but your international background is already impressive.
Laure, you are French, living in Antwerp, you studied in London… The “Europe of Culture” that we promote, you are its incarnation.
You are a reflection of our culture. A culture open to the world.
Because our culture has always been done this way: by dialogue with the whole world; by nourishing itself of its diversity. By welcoming foreign artists on our soil. And by crossing borders to go create.
Dear Laure, dear Martha: good luck with these new frontiers you will cross.
I am very eager, like many here, to be in Venice next spring, to discover the French Pavilion that you imagined.
And I leave you the floor to finally discover your project.