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Elise Lavigne and Kouka

The Montresso Foundation is the work of a collector, art patron, and mostly passionate man who, from artistic encounter to the next built a vast collection of modern and contemporary art. In 1981, he fulfilled his desire to find the right home for his collection and created the foundation. In 2007, he made his venture as a patron a life project and created an artistic residence, the Jardin Rouge, a place of creation and experimenation in Morocco. Last April, the foundation inaugurated a 1300 m2 space dedicated to contemporary art with an exhibition of photographer Gérard Rancinan’s works. {Artsper} : What is the Jardin Rouge ? {Elise Lavigne} : Jardin Rouge is an artistic residence nestled in the middle of an olive grove of 11 hectares 20 km from Marrakech, Morocco. Between 2007 and 2013, Jardin Rouge remained a private place, the residences are still organized in an informal way, everything is still being built. In April 2014, EG took up the position of Artistic Director and hosted a first event, Behind the Red Wall, bringing together several street and graffiti artists of French, American, Russian, German, Swiss and Canadian nationality. From then, a real residence and events program took shape. {Artsper} : How do things work at Jardin Rouge ? {Elise Lavigne} : There is no typical way to function, sometimes we contact artists that interest us, other times, it’s them that contact us. In any case, the artists has to present an artistic project with some main guideline. The project will be developped at the Jardin Rouge, in Morocco, in Africa, so we have to know why that project makes sense here and now. All residences are put into place through dialogue. It’s important for us that the artist develops a project that respects his style and his work and calls for quality and research ; we must leave space for exprimentation, for testing things out. The artist Kouka, whose work we promoted during the Dakar Biennale this year, has just spent 3 weeks in residence here, he has been an important artist for the foundation these past three years. {Artsper} : Kouka, how did you become a resident artist at Jardin Rouge ? {Kouka} : I met the founder of Jardin Rouge in 2013, in Azzemour, Morocco during a murals festival. At the time, there were only a few resident artists per year and Jardin Rouge was just a beautiful project waiting to be fully launched. {Artsper} : What attracts you in this collaboration ? {Kouka} : What I like about this residence is that I can work in collaboration with local and international artists. The location also contributes to a very motivating group energy. When I am working in Paris, I’m often alone in front of my work. Being part of a residence where artists, craftsmen and professionals of the art world all live together is very stimulating. {Artsper} : According to you, how does Jardin Rouge set itself apart from other centers and workshops for the arts ? {Kouka} : The singularity of Jarding Rouge is that it offers emerging artists the opportunity to see a project through from its conception to its realization and to be able to not only benefit from local craftsmen know- how to guide you, but also from the liveliness of the ideas we all exchange. When I am in residence, most of the time, the first week is meant for exchange, the second intense production and the third final details and at that point you also already feel a bit of nostalgia at the thought of leaving soon. {Artsper} : What are your projects for September ? {Elise Lavigne} : Next year is important, we are going to have to write out our vision and continue to develop an interesting artistic project alongside the artists. At Jardin Rouge, we will present the works of Benjamin Laading, Kouka, Cédrix Crespel and FENX for the end of this year. We are currently finalizing several projects that involve partnerships (namely with the Mister freeze festival in Toulouse and the COP22 in Marrakech). We are going to edit the photographic series “The Walls” from Hendrik Beikirch’s Tracing Morocco project. And then, keep that momentum in the new space dedicated to Contemporary Art with an event exhibtion of the XXL paintings of Cédric Crespel, FENX, TILT and JonOne. The place still being private, we only have visitors on appointment but wish to become public or semi­public in 2 years time. {Artsper} : What drove you to become Artsper’s partner ? {Elise Lavigne} : Artpser is a circular platform : it’s a marketplace that allows its clients to discover artists with a vast catalogue, interviews with different profiles of the art market... It’s this circularity that we liked and also the fact that you don’t reduce talk of art to only art. This allows us to have a bigger picture of the artist, his/her work and environement. You namely represent artists with whom Jardin Rouge has collaborated, like FENX, MadC or Cédrix Crespel.
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