France is a major partner for festivals and supports the creation of contemporary art in India
The Embassy of France in India – French Institute in India signed an agreement with the Serendipity Arts Foundation to foster cultural exchanges between France and India to mark the 2022 Serendipity Arts Festival. The agreement reaffirms France’s sustained role as a patron and partner for art festivals
and contemporary creation in India.
1. Terra Nullius’, the flagship Indo-French exhibition of Serendipity Arts Festival 2022, a successful cooperation
French artists such as Sophie Calle or Olivier Sagazan were prominently featured across the Serendipity Arts Festival’s previous editions, which also included a collaboration with the Musée d’Art Moderne, Paris. The Indo-French flavour at this year’s festival includes an exhibition featuring France’s Centre national des arts plastiques (Cnap) and Jeu de Paume.
‘Terra Nullius/Nobody’s Land: Excavations from Image 3.0” is an exhibition dedicated to new mediums of imagery that seeks to challenge the codes of our relationship to the image. It is the result of a national photography commission initiated by the French Ministry of Culture in 2020 under the title “Image 3.0” – to encourage artists who combine photographic and digital practices. The resulting works were presented for the first time in France this year in Reims and at the Paris Photo fair. As part of the Serendipity Arts Festival, eight of these works will be on display from 15 to 23 December in a dedicated space at the historic old Goa Medical College, one of the central locations of the festival. This specific itinerancy is the result of a dialogue with India’s Alkazi Foundation for the Arts.
In addition to ‘Terra Nullius’, France will also be represented at the festival by sound artists Dinah Bird and Jean-Philippe Renoult, who will present their work on 21 December after having completed several weeks of residency in India.
2. France and Serendipity Arts Foundation strengthen their ties through a wide-ranging agreement
The ‘Terra Nullius” exhibition reflects France’s emergence as a major partner for Serendipity Arts Foundation initiatives. For the 2022 Rencontres d’Arles, which is one of the most important photography festivals in France, members of the Serendipity Foundation were invited to France to inaugurate the first edition of the Serendipity Arles Grant, an Indo-French cooperation programme designed to award prizes to young Indian photographers and give them international visibility.
Continuing in this spirit of partnership, the Director of the French Institute in India, Mr Emmanuel Lebrun-Damiens, and the Founder & Patron of Serendipity Arts Foundation, Mr Sunil Kant Munjal, signed an agreement on December 16 to spur even more active collaboration over the next two years. The agreement includes:
- France’s continued support in bringing French artists to the Festival.
- Developing the Serendipity Arles Grant through a second edition in 2023, in partnership with Rencontres d’Arles and its Director Christophe Wiesner.
- Extending France’s support for the annual SAF x Cité internationale des Arts residency – in which an Indian artist selected by Serendipity Arts Foundation will benefit from a residency of several months in Paris.
- France will be a preferred knowledge partner of the Serendipity Arts Live Museum, a permanent centre that will be established in Delhi to welcome all forms of artistic production. As part of this collaboration, France will facilitate contacts with French cultural and educational actors and professionals.
On this occasion, the Ambassador of France to India, Mr Emmanuel Lenain, said, “This agreement recognises the incredible work accomplished over the past few years by Mr Munjal and his teams to nurture contemporary creation in all its forms in India. Our priority is to strengthen the partnership with Indian institutions, such as the Serendipity Arts Foundation, by sharing our expertise and supporting French artists coming to India. Together, we wish to promote a form of culture that is alive, accessible to a wide audience, and deeply rooted in society.”
Welcoming the proposed partnership, Mr. Sunil Kant Munjal, Founder & Patron, Serendipity Arts Foundation, said, “We are happy to host Emmanuel Lebrun-Damiens
Director of French Institute in India at the Serendipity Arts Festival, along with some excellent creative collaborations between the artists of India and France. Through this agreement we have the scope to strengthen the cultural and creative exchanges between various French institutions and Serendipity Arts Foundation, supporting many more artists with the required resources and exposure to energize their creative and artistic practices.”
3. A partnership emblematic of France’s ambition to boost artistic cooperation with India
The partnership with Serendipity Arts Foundation clearly shows France’s intent to step up French artistic production in India and to contribute to India’s flagship art events. This commitment is visible at the 2022 Kochi-Muziris Biennale, where eight French artists are showcasing their sculptures, videos, and installations, including Jean-François Boclé (Martinique), Charles Chulem Rousseau (Guadeloupe), Nathalie Muchamad (New Caledonia), and Myriam Omar Awadi (Reunion Island). These artists took part in a collective work on the notions of insularity and archipelago theorized by Edouard Glissant. Hailing from French Overseas Territories, the artists assess the place and role of the Indian Ocean in the history of migrations and mixed cultures. The invitation of the French artists follows a visit by Mario D’Souza, curator of the Kochi Biennale, to France’s Reunion Island in the summer of 2022, and reflects the sincere and rich cultural dialogue between the two countries. Other chapters of this cooperation await to be written, but they will have the same breadth of ambition—which is to learn from each other through art and culture.