French cultural institution Villa Albertine Atlanta announces 2023 residency projects
By Hannah E. Jones
The French cultural institution Villa Albertine Atlanta recently announced a slate of international creatives who were selected for its 2023 residency program. Through this initiative, artists and cultural researchers will temporarily reside in Atlanta to explore topics of their choice, drawing inspiration from local communities and the cultural landscape.
Villa Albertine was established by the French Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs to deepen cultural connections between France and the U.S., with permanent locations in ten major American cities, including Atlanta.
This year, Villa Albertine Atlanta is hosting 14 creative thinkers. Established in November 2021, this is the Villa’s second-ever residency program. The upcoming residents cover a wide range of disciplines, like podcast host and disabilities activist Léa Hirschfeld and music producer Deena Abdelwahed.
Through this program, the residents will stay in Atlanta for one to three months, meeting with creatives and visiting key local cultural institutions. The Villa’s residency projects are open to all nationalities but every resident is joining in partnership with a French institution. The team sees cross-cultural connections as a critical step in tackling international topics.
“The United States is a very important country for French thinkers and artists,” said David Ruffel, director of Villa Albertine Atlanta and cultural attaché at the French Consulate. “Through the exchanges between artists and thinkers, we think we can address some contemporary issues that we have in common, and we hope to solve them through this connection.”
Ruffel added that folks who stayed in Atlanta during the 2021/22 residence now see what locals already know — that the city and metro area are rich with culture, including music, fashion and technology.
“A lot of residents that came during the first season in Atlanta, they consider the region differently than they did before,” he said. “Atlanta is growing so fast now, and it’s a very exciting city to explore.”
Ruffel says this year, contemporary art, Africa and the African diaspora are primary areas of focus. For example, French Guianese doctoral student Paul-Aimé William is researching African American art historian James A. Porter and El Hadji Malick Ndiaye, department head of Théodore Monod Museum of African Art, will study the relationship between historical heritage and contemporary art creation.
To that end, Villa Albertine has arranged partnerships with local institutions like the African Diaspora Art Museum of Atlanta (ADAMA), Spelman College and the Atlanta University Center Art History + Curatorial Studies Collective.
“We — Villa Albertine — see Atlanta and the region as a main territory to develop relationships in art and creation between Africa, France and the U.S., because of the importance of the African American community, culture and history in Atlanta,” Ruffel said.
Another major focus this year is dance, with Villa Albertine Atlanta welcoming hip-hop and photography duo Amala Dianor and Grégoire Korganow to explore how new generations are integrating contemporary social tensions into their choreographic identity.
Ruffel calls this a “residency without any expectation,” meaning the team isn’t anticipating a final product by the end of their stay. Instead, the purpose is to make connections, ask questions and dig deeper into cross-cultural topics.
Some explorations do generate a final project, though. For example, in 2022, Essé Dabla-Attikpo researched Black masculinity in hip-hop, collecting information across multiple African countries, Germany, France and Atlanta. At the end of this year, she will present her findings in partnership with Villa Albertine and ADAMA.
The team is already looking ahead to 2024 by preparing for its next group of thinkers. Once all applications are in, a committee of local cultural experts and the Villa Albertine New York Director will select the next round of residency projects. Additionally, many of the 2023 participants participate in programs open to the public, and further details will be shared throughout the year.
To learn more about the creative thinkers coming to Atlanta this year, click here.
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