My dear francophiles, francovorous and francophageous friends, if you read this column regularly (yes, you and you and…that’s it. I hope this is just a bad joke!) You may remember that a few weeks ago, I wrote about the pleasure of discovering artwork while strolling in the city, to be surprised by some street artwork while you’re stuck in traffic on La Cienega or La Brea (you know, 8:30 am, next to the 10 exit – if you live in L.A., you got it). Yes, I do like seeing art everywhere and anywhere. I especially love discovering art in places it’s absolutely not supposed to be…
The big story of Rendez-Vous d’Amérique this week is about a French-Colombian artist who’s participating in an exhibition like any other; an exhibition of massive pieces of art in the desert. It’s called Desert X, it’s a biennale event, it’s located in the Coachella Valley close to the Salton Sea (a weird lake located in the middle of the Californian desert), and it’s a great idea!
Ivan Argote, the artist I was talking about a few lines back, had a very poetic idea. He built a massive goal-less set of stairs in the middle of nowhere -- therefore at the center of everything. He explains very well the why and how of his work in the show, but here, let me just say that I find it incredibly bold and smart when an artist uses the space, the location, as part of his art. By doing this, his work becomes more than art. It’s a statement.
There is an environmental message in Ivan Argote’s work. Tune in to the show to learn more, but that’s not what I meant when I talked about a statement. By putting a piece of art that is so humanistic, so relevant and so moving in the middle of the desert, he’s just saying “we belong.” We belong to the world we live in. We belong to the nature we live in. We belong to the country we live in. By putting those giant stairs in the desert, he changes the landscape. But also, the landscape changes the significance of his art. It means that we have an influence on our world, as much as our world influences us.
I love the fact that it’s a French-Colombian artist making this statement in an American location like Desert X. Like many of you, as a French expatriate, I had my doubts about fitting in in another country, especially such an imposing country as America, on so many levels. Now I understand that I’m not here to fit in. I’m here to stand out (at my very modest level, of course). America is a country where the differences are key. Heck, differences are the foundation of everything in the beautiful United States Of America. Despite what one man in a big house with white walls is saying in Washington, America is growing because of the multitude of differences we all bring.
When I saw Ivan Argote’s work, those impressive stairs in the middle of nowhere, it reminded me that I should--that we should--never forget to stand out and to use our differences to keep this country as great it has always been.
To learn more about Desert X, French Art, the work of Ivan Argote, and other personalities and happenings that define Francophone culture in America, tune in to Rendez-vous d’Amérique on TV5MONDE USA. Click here for more information.
Exploring a diversity of culture entwined with the vast expanse of Coachella Valley, the insatiable energy of New York City, the excitement of Hollywood’s red carpets, and beyond - Rendez-vous d'Amérique invites you on a journey to discover Francophone culture in America. Your host on this cultural experience is Didier Allouch - reporter, cinephile, and a familiar face at movie premieres. Click here to learn how you can subscribe to TV5MONDE USA and never miss an episode!