By Anthony Assemat
“Here, it’s over”, could have sung Jean-Louis Aubert. Because it is indeed a page that turns Place du Capitole in Toulouse.
End of March 2023, dix years after the Castela bookstore (space occupied today by the chocolatier Lindt)another place with a cultural vocation in the most famous square of the Pink City will close its doors.
This is the Foundation for contemporary art of the Caisse d’Epargne Midi-Pyrénées located in 3 Place du Capitole.
“Not a disaffection for contemporary art”
A decision taken by the management board of the squirrel banking group, chaired in the region by Christophe le Pape since spring 2021 (he had succeeded Pierre Carli, the historical boss of the Caisse d’Epargne Midi-Pyrénées since 2003).
“The Executive Board has decided to close the Foundation’s activities and to develop its sponsorship actions, while maintaining its envelope of 2.5 million euros per year. This is not a disaffection for contemporary art,” says Christine Rey-Bourdieu, general secretary CSR (Social and environmental responsibility) and environmental transition at Caisse d’Epargne Midi-Pyrénées.
Not linked to a question of money, believes the Caisse d’Epargne
The Toulouse Foundation, which occupied a building on two levels and 375 m2, represented 400,000 euros per year out of the 2.5 million euros devoted to sponsorship. But the closure is “not linked to questions of money”, specifies the banking group, which was only a tenant of the premises.
“We are going to promote digital inclusion, support for sport and associations, and deploy other actions on the ground as close as possible to the territories of the region. But we will remain involved in the promotion of culture, actors and patrons of social cohesion on the territory. For example, we remain partners of the ThéâtredelaCité, the Orchester national du Capitole, the Grands Interprètes, Odyssud…”.
The Foundation created in 2004
The Espace Ecureuil and Toulouse Foundation is an old story. The first art space opened in the basement in 1994 and the Corporate Foundation was created in 2004 to make this building a place exclusively for contemporary art. In 18 years, more than 300 artists and a hundred exhibitions have occupied the space, with an estimated attendance of over 364,000 people.
The Foundation for Contemporary Art also brings together each year, in partnership with the Rectorate of Toulouse, more than 2,000 students for actions to raise awareness and discover contemporary art.
“It’s a bad choice”
That’s why the announcement of the closure of this Foundation had the effect of a bomb. “It’s a bad choice”, slice Christian Thorel, the emblematic boss of White Shadows bookstore, rue Gambetta. “We have great regrets. There was work done with college and high school students. This proximity was unique, we couldn’t do better, ”we estimate on the side of the Institute for young blind people in Toulouse, who collaborated regularly with the place. Different actors who persist in saying that “the structure was part of Toulouse’s heritage”.
What future for the local?
Can this model of Foundation and place dedicated to contemporary art return elsewhere in town? And why not at 42, rue du Languedoc, an address that had temporarily hosted, over a year, the Foundation’s exhibitions during work on the Place du Capitole in 2015-2016? “We are going to start renovation work in this historic building. Nothing is ruled out but it’s too early to talk about it,” says Christine Rey-Bourdieu.
For the moment, no information has filtered on the future of these premises located at 3, place du Capitole. But there is no doubt that this beautiful, well-maintained space, both design and terribly Toulouse-style with its exposed stones in the basement, will whet serious appetites…
A very fragrant program until closing time
It was in tears that Sylvie Corroler-Talairach, director of the Espace Squirrel Corporate Foundation presented the cultural program for the (shortened) season of the premises, until March 25, 2023.
Currently, Véronique Glover is exhibiting until October 22, 2022, around summer photos…; and the smell of jasmine. “She uses photos to turn them into images and thwart the truth assigned to photography. There is no central subject in the construction of the exhibition and it is the fragrance of jasmine that brings the images together”, explains the artistic programmer.
From November 4 to December 24, 2022, make way for Florian Mermin with his “Floral May Morning” (photo). A theme taken from a phrase from Alice in Wonderland. “It will be a walk in a dreamlike and fantasized garden”, explains Sylvie Corroler-Talairach.
Finally, this somewhat special 2022-2023 season focused on smells will end from January 20 to March 25, 2023 with “Olfactory horizons”, an exhibition that will be worth the smells of the objects on display. The idea came from Sandra Barré, a contemporary art critic who wrote a thesis at the Sorbonne Paris Panthéon on the plasticity of smell.
For the occasion, the Foundation for Contemporary Art will create its own perfume, Witchcraft, which will only be sold within the Foundation during the two months of the exhibition.
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