To mark the new chapter in the journey of The Community, we asked 25 artists to propose permanent works and installations in the art centre. Bread & Salt, the title of the inaugural exhibition, draws inspiration from the home: blessing it with family, neighbours, strangers, old and new friends.
What makes the home feel like home? What would be the first thing you would install when moving in? With a carte blanche invitation and these questions in mind, the artists started a dialogue with the new space, resulting in works that differ in scales, practices, and functions.
The exhibition takes as its starting point the social dynamics of creating a shared space and showing hospitality. Traditionally bread and salt were welcome greetings in various cultures. Bread would have usually been associated with hospitality, whereas salt symbolised a long-lasting friendship. Our wish is to share the space with everyone and invite them to enjoy it as a home for experimentation. During the spring and lockdown months, we worked together to renovate the space and remembered its past as a mineral paint shop by keeping remnants of it alive and visible. Artists, friends, and neighbours worked alongside each other, feeling the space, making it a home, and simultaneously reflecting on how it can evolve.
Many of the works have been built on-site in The Community Centre and the garden two doors away: a collaborative body at work, slowly moving from individual practices to a collective effort. Experimentation, in its loose and associative forms, and questioning the notion of ownership and authorship have been on the minds of many participants. Some artists have been lingering on the architectural shapes, forging new structures, creating new soundscapes and offerings that resonate. Some have approached the collaboration via graphic sensibilities and printed ephemera, while others have considered the new home with performative rituals. Several artists of the show focused on the recycling and repurposing of materials, sometimes sourced from the streets of Pantin or neighbouring associations that specialise in the reuse of materials. Sometimes the chosen material bears memories from The Community’s previous location via specific colours and tactile elements. Some reference our past exhibitions, reapproaching ideas and creating new contexts and narratives around them. Together they form an organic, transdisciplinary collection of works.
The artworks will stay with us in the space for the years to come: we will move them around like our favourite furniture and dearest objects. For future years on Rue Méhul, we hope to gather friends, neighbours, friends of friends, and strangers to create new meaningful ways to be together. From pausing to light a candle, sinking into conversations on the sofa, to steaming in the sauna, all this and more is for everyone to discover how the space feels, sounds and looks. All the works hold the space together, punctuate it, and guide our navigation. Bringing together its intrinsic layers of history, the space evolves into one, sometimes active, body of work, nurturing, witnessing, and holding the souvenirs to come from our new home.