Le Miamour alternative cultural center residents after declaring the occupation, March 2020

 

This spring, i had great opportunity to join a group of thirty front-line squatters in a mission impossible attempt - to set up an alternative cultural center and artist in residency space in the heart of Paris 7th district, the adventure called LE Miamour /Le maison internationale d'artistes Amour/. In the quartier where gentrification has ended long ago with huge N as a cherry on a top of a cake, a squat of this type was initiated as soft de-gentrifying agent in the area. Some 10 days before the lockdown was officially announced, group of international artists who got trapped in Paris in precarious conditions infiltrated the two buildings at the river Seine and started setting up all the vital aspects of such platform - from cleaning the spaces, installing the exhibition areas, to moving in the furniture and developing external communication and production strategies, holding endless meetings discussing ways to proceed, meanwhile team building through cooking sessions and latenight movie screenings. Observing this i had clear insight into the fact that squatting of this kind is a full 24/7 engagement that leaves no space for 'real job' other than living this type of life to the fullest.

 

Very soon the confinement arrived officially so the group transformed all the energy and focus into online-visibility strategies, and while temporarily closing the exhibition spaces, opened a web radio and decided to use shop windows and balconies looking towards the Louvre for unanounced but professionally documented and afterwards promoted online live performances. Internal production activities were on full force since the start, with breakdancers from Brasil who got stuck in Paris after they came for international championship, moviemakers from various schools and painters and mural artists. The group also got discovered by the buildings owners - that is, Musee d'Orsay and Cabinet de Prime Minister - yes this list makes the place even more exclusive and this type of non-formal collaboration even more precious - and the slow but surely strict legal procedure for eviction has started.

To end this short note while more detailed evaluation report and day-to-day diary of the whole process is in preparation, everything ended some 3 months later, with a 24-hour eviction notice from the administrative court of Paris, that generated lots of chaos and creative energy determining this huge team to sum up all the lessons learned and continue the project at another, yet unknown destination.

 

Mural by Bault & Popay