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Transatlantic connection: transcending borders, improvising harmony

A Water Glossary of Marseille

Atlanta-based writer and artist Hannah S. Palmer came to Marseilles in April 2023 as part of Villa Albertine’s City/Cité program and Terres Communes, an event co-produced by the Guide Bureau of GR2013 and the Cité de l’Agriculture, with Friche la belle de Mai. A leading Atlanta voice in ecology and environmental justice, she has developed numerous projects on the issue of water and urban rivers. It was also on the subject of water that she wrote on her return from Marseille.


In this text, science fiction author Alain Damasio reveals the hidden face of the city of San Francisco. Inspired by the investigation he carried out during his residency at the Villa Albertine, this story reveals the perverse effects of modernity and capitalism on human beings. 

NSDOS Sonic Odyssey

Multi-disciplinary artist NSDOS has developed a unique and unconventional approach to music. Using a range of elements, each as original as the next, he breaks codes and tears down expectations by inviting the audience to explore the infinite possibilities of objects, technological tools, sounds and bodily movements. He recently brought his practice to New Orleans, and was filmed by Edouard Lemiale.

Yup’ik resilience in southwestern Alaska

100,000 artifacts discovered in a few square feet of space. This is the extraordinary result of archaeological excavations conducted on the southwest coast of Alaska for the past 13 years, at Nunalleq, on the Bering Sea. Nunalleq has become a reference point when it comes to telling the story of the Yup’ik past, which has lived there for centuries. It is also the history of this resilient people in the face of climatic catastrophes that is being written before our eyes, and that is at the center of a five-year residency undertaken by French archeologist Claire Houmard with Villa Albertine.

Atlanta: Reflections on Beholding, Protecting, and Dismantling

For the 2024 Night of Ideas, Na’Taki Osborne Jelks vividly portrays Atlanta’s contrasting nature. Despite its rich history of Civil Rights activism, Atlanta still grapples with severe racial and environmental inequalities. An environmental scientist, Jelks emphasizes the importance of community activism and organizations in dismantling systemic oppression and creating a more healthy and equitable environment for everyone.

Hoping for an Urban Exodus

This year’s Night of Ideas is an invitation to meditate on the twilight of cities. Sébastien Marot—who is participating in the Atlanta, Miami and Durham editions—takes this opportunity to lay the hypothesis of an urban exodus as a response to the environmental crisis. Yet this evolution seems both inevitable and impossible, it is caught in a form of cognitive dissonance. There are two ways out: be a magician or a prophet.


Kaouther Ben Hania: “It’s a film where I took all the risks”

“Four Daughters” follows the story of Olfa Hamrouni and her daughters, exploring family dynamics and the radicalization of the two eldest in a unique blend of documentary and fiction. The director, Kaouther Ben Hania, stopped by Villa Albertine where she was a resident in 2022 and shared insights ahead of the film’s nomination for Best Documentary at the Academy Awards.

The Power of Collective Voice: Culture, Identity, and Empowerment

Tiana Webb Evans and Lydia Amarouche will both be present at the Jersey City Night of Ideas, but not in the same conversation, even though they have much in common. Villa Albertine Magazine, therefore, organized a meeting ahead of the event. Their fascinating conversation tackled urban issues and inclusivity, emphasizing literature, community involvement, and the arts as pivotal in confronting representation and urban challenges, highlighting their respective projects—Yard Concept and Shed Publishing.

The Feminist New “New Wave” of French Cinema

French cinema is currently undergoing a transformation, thanks to a new generation of female filmmakers who are challenging traditional norms and redefining narratives. In this article, film journalist Rebecca Leffler delves into the ways in which these women are creating a diverse cinematic landscape that promotes intellectual engagement with the multifaceted stories and perspectives of modern women.

From Burgundy to Brooklyn: Eve George’s Glass Blowing Journey

In this article, Eve George, an accomplished glass blower and designer, shares her enriching journey during her residency in New York City. Co-founder of Atelier George, Eve combines working with glass, vibrant urban experiences and varied culinary explorations. From her workshop in Burgundy’s Côte d’Or to the bustling streets of New York, food culture deeply impacted her artistic vision, ending in glass creations showcasing her evolving journey as an artist in a melting pot of cultures and creativity.

Léa Hirschfeld: Disability and Dignity Through Podcasting

Villa Albertine resident Léa Hirschfeld is the creator of the podcast Décalés, which highlights the different dimensions of disability – intellectual, physical and mental – and recounts both the lived experience of disability and the experiences of loved ones. During her residency, Léa traveled throughout the United States, discovering how disability is experienced across the country and sharing the stories she discovered along the way.

Democracy, cultural rights, and digital utopias

Is the notion of Cultural Rights, which appeared nearly 80 years ago, still relevant in the age of the Internet? In this article, based on their intervention at the Night of Ideas in Atlanta, Marie Picard and Emmanuel Vergès place themselves at the intersection of cultural rights and digital cultures to envision a new cultural framework that is inclusive, open and sustainable. The stakes are high; it is nothing less than the possibility of democracy.

Belonging as an Act of Justice

Activist and researcher Terence Lester investigates the roots of hostile architecture and its impact on homelessness and discrimination. Drawing from personal experiences of racism in the Jim Crow south, Lester explores the intersection of race, class, and homelessness. As hostile architecture further marginalizes those without an address, this article illuminates the power of belonging, re-imaging homelessness through the Lens of Martin Luther Kings’s b “Beloved Community”, and urging readers to confront systemic barriers for a more inclusive and just society.

The Transformative Potential of AI and Immersive Technologies in Education

At the Night of Ideas event at Harvard University, Jean Arnaud, a co-founder of a startup focused on providing AI-enabled immersive learning environments, discussed the potential of combining artificial intelligence and immersive technologies in education. Arnaud explored how these technologies could revolutionize the way we approach learning, with the use of avatars combined with AI yielding exceptional benefits for students, including promoting personal development and inclusion. However, he also shows the importance of recognizing the limits of these thechnologies, which should be used as a tool to amplify human intelligence and ideas, not to control them.

“Doing more with less,” or the art of being resilient

The term resilience, originally defined as the ability of a material to bounce back, has evolved through its use by various disciplines, including ecology and economics. Yet measuring a city’s resilience remains elusive. In this article, echoing her intervention at the Night of Ideas in Monterrey, architect Ophélia Mantz proposes to consider the notion of civitas and adaptation as a more precise term that reflects the progressive change of the urban system in response to crises. The concepts of ecosophy and temporal ecology are also mobilized in the quest to modify our lifestyles, to build a convivial society based on well-being and quality of life.

Atlanta, Black Identity and Echoes From the Atlantic

One can be a historian of the United States, a specialist in Black history and theories of Afrodiasporic descent, and yet be struck by the specificity of Atlanta. This was Maboula Soumahoro’s experience during her residency, and she concluded that theoretical knowledge—such as the conditions of emergence of a figure like Martin Luther King or of Hip Hop culture—does not replace physical experience in understanding how a Southern city became a major home for the Black-African diaspora.

When a Young Woman Takes the Baton

At the age of 23, Franco-British conductor Stéphanie Childress has already made an important impact on the world of orchestras. Currently one of the very few women to conduct an orchestra in the U.S. as assistant conductor with the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra, she has managed to get away from it all as part of her residency with Villa Albertine, to discover other great American orchestras. Her objective is to determine if and how a city’s culture affects the way its orchestra sounds. And what part women now play in this story.

Walking along Chicago’s Rivers

Is the notion of landscape still relevant in an urban environment, especially when we talk about the city par excellence: Chicago? Architect and researcher Jennifer Buyck questions, at the age of anthropocene, the ways to renew the link between the living and the urban. It is by strolling along the river, camera in hand, that she investigated how it has played such an important role in the construction of the city, and how it could play an equally important role in the necessary ecological turn of the metropolitan construction.

Yvonne Rainer: Portrait of a Dancer as a Reader

How to read, see and exhibit Yvonne Rainer’s work today? This was the question at the heart of Arlène Berceliot Courtin’s residency. In this interview with Jo-ey Tang, she discusses the legacy of the iconic American dancer and choreographer, a leading figure in postmodern and minimalist dance.

Art History in the Creation of Racial Identity

Strange as it may seem, Art History has been late in addressing the construction of racial identities. Yet the questions of what is seen, what is shown, the invention of “blackness” and “whiteness” are central, as Anne Lafont has brilliantly demonstrated. The historian navigates between the periods of the 18th and 19th century, and has shown how a look is built then on the Black bodies, in a manner consistent with the formation of an artistic canon. Canon which is today reappropriated and questioned by Black artists.

Michel Risse : Revealing the Soundscape of New York

New York is a sonorous city, one could even say that it is a city that has a taste for noise. It draws much of its energy from this, a vitality that soundscape artist Michel Risse and his company Décor Sonore came to explore during their residency at Villa Albertine. Multi-instrumentalist, composer, author and electroacoustician, Michel Risse studied music and percussion, which he practiced in numerous rock and jazz bands. In 1972, he began to develop an interest in sound creation in free-space, and to compose his first “sound decors”. His encounter in New York with the sound painting collective Strike Anywhere gave rise to various experiments in Battery Park and elsewhere… The opportunity to define this function of sound landscaper that Michel Risse has been cultivating for 50 years, in the wake of composer John Cage who declared: “I have never listened to a sound without appreciating it. The only problem with sounds is music.

Felwine Sarr: Reinvest History and Utopia

A philosopher, economist, writer and musician, the Senegalese Felwine Sarr is one of the most prominent intellectual figures of the moment. In recent years, his work has taken on a new form: that of plays. Two of them are currently on tour in the United States, and carry this singular voice that invites us to believe in the possibility of utopia.

The roots of border art

From traditional Mexican art to contemporary border art, let us look back at Art History at the US–Mexico border. Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera have given their fingerprints, Mexican muralism left its mark here. The voice of Chicanos still resonates. Today’s border artists are walking in their footsteps, like walking a tightrope between two countries held together by force. Is passion possible in a marriage of convenience? Will they turn divides into hyphens? French author of documentaries Aude-Emilie Judaïque explored the border as part of her Villa Albertine residency to answer these questions.

Yolande Zauberman: “I have a firm belief in the political power of intimacy”

Emma Goldman was a figure of anarchism, a political movement whose significance at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries in the United States has since been forgotten. Filmmaker Yolande Zauberman came to New York to follow in the footsteps of this young Russian Jewish refugee, who became a powerful woman and a public figure of feminism and workers’ rights. Here is an intimate—and therefore political—portrait.

A Script Signed “AI”

Co-writing a script with a machine… what if that were possible? Such was the bet Simon Bouisson made during his Albertine residency in California. Here, he tells us about his sci-fi-like working method alongside a co-author capable of unfolding a dizzying maze of potential paths, devoid of ethics and logic.

Aunt Charlie’s Lounge: The Untraceable Queer History of San Francisco

What is left of San Francisco’s queer history? Writer Hélène Giannecchini came to SF with Sasha J. Blondeau and François Chaignaud, with whom she is preparing the show “Cortèges” for the Philharmonie de Paris. Though the hoped-for encounter with her story is more difficult than expected, there is one place that brings back all of those who have left their mark on the history of struggles for LGBTQIA+ rights: Aunt Charlie’s Lounge.

Where Are We Going?:Night of Ideas 2022 in New York

On May 21, the 2022 Night of Idea took place in New York and offered a two-part event in Manhattan and in Brooklyn, for an audience of nearly 1,500 people. A video report by Raphaël Bourgois and Romain Thomassin allows to take the measure of the event, of its richness and diversity.

Judith Henon and Sarah Schleuning: “One can only imagine the aesthetic shock caused by the discovery of Islamic art in the West”

In a joint interview, Curator and Deputy Director of the Department of Islamic Art at the Musée du Louvre Judith Henon, and Sarah Schleuning, the Margot B. Perot Senior Curator of Decorative Arts and Design at the Dallas Museum of Art (DMA), discuss the scientific, historical, and contemporary issues surrounding the exhibition “Cartier and the Arts of Islam: In search of Modernity.”. The objective is to understand, beyond the aesthetic interest, what this exhibition, which was first presented in Paris, tells us about the place of Islamic arts at the time of the Cartier brothers and their place today in France and the United States.

Sameer Ahmad: “The America I shaped my personality around was a complete fantasy”

What brings together Bruce Lee, skateboarding, Clint Eastwood, rap… and the small Norman town of Flers? When he was a young Iraqi refugee, Sameer Ahmad built up a very personal culture – the product, as he says today, of a fantasized vision of America. Having become one of the most interesting French Hip Hop musicians of his generation, he deconstructs this mythical vision in his texts.

Where Are We Going? Time for Revolution!

Although scientists have been sounding the alarm for us to take action in the face of the climate emergency, power remains in the hands of a few, at the expense of individual, local and solidarity-based action. For Claire Sagan, it is urgent to revolutionize the way we make decisions in order to achieve a common progress – the only desirable horizon when we ask ourselves “where are we going?”.

Leïla Slimani: “When I Write, I Don’t Know Where I’m Going”

“I don’t know where I’m going, so I write,” was how novelist Leïla Slimani concluded her moving speech at the Night of Ideas 2022 at the Brooklyn Public Library in New York. In an interview with the Villa Albertine magazine, she discusses the issues that run through her work and her commitments: feminism, immigration, identity, racism, and, of course, the role of literature.

Where Are We Going? Towards the United States of Europe

How may the European Union draw inspiration from the “Federalist Papers”? No less than the secular bible of the American Republic, this work signed James Madison and Alexander Hamilton offers a reflection on sovereignty which, according to Hugo Toudic, should serve as the basis for Europeans’ questionings. While the invasion of Ukraine by Russia compels us to rethink the question of sovereignty, the EU gains a new lease of life, becoming once again a horizon where the question “where are we going?” may be answered.

Where Are We Going? Turning Collective Tragedy Into Opportunity

Dwelling on the pandemic and its aftermath on the population, Nathalie Etoké answers the question posed by the Night of Ideas, “Where are we going?”, by pointing out how this period has exposed the social disparities. Hidden behind our masks, our attention is focused on those who are usually left behind by society.

Where Are We Going? Rethinking Citizenship in a Post-Covid World

Covid has disrupted the parameters of our society by profoundly shifting the relationship between obedience and freedom. From then on, answering the question “where are we going?”, asked on the occasion of the Night of Ideas 2022, means taking up the political challenge of rethinking our collective and social obligations, the role of the State, the balance of rights and duties… in short, citizenship.

Where Are We Going? Towards a Common Horizon

The horizon is the place we will never reach, because no matter how much closer we get to it, it never stops receding. Dwelling on this paradox, Victorien Coquery embarks on a philosophical reflection to answer the question posed by the Night of Ideas, “Where are we going?”—for by wanting to reach the horizon at all costs, don’t we end up losing it, or at least disrupting it?

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