At Your Home, Without Me: Ramatuelle, Jacqueline Franjou’s Essential Festival
Tonight, August 1st, 2020–and until August 10th. If you are in Ramatuelle, a little village above the Mediterranean Sea near Saint Tropez in the South of France, you might be among the luckiest people. While almost all summer cultural events have been canceled in France, Jacqueline Franjou is opening the 2020 Festival of Ramatuelle, a series of plays, stand-up comedies, and concerts under the stars and the songs of crickets. A must attend annual event, a rarity this year.
This summery feast has been scheduled every August since 1985. But with movies, theaters, operas and museums still closed in most places around the world because of containment and a very much still present covid19 pandemic, the mere possibility to see comedians and musicians on a stage has become an extraordinary experience. This year’s Festival is an act of audacity and resistance, against all odds, a small, yet safe step to keep us on the pace of being humans, together.
I was fortunate to attend last summer and I remember fondly the performance of French actor Gérard Depardieu (Golden Globe 1991 for Peter Weir’s movie Green Card) sing Barbara’s most iconic songs in a soft and elusive voice.
I cannot go this summer but will have a special thought for Franjou, the co-founder and President of this Festival, a woman I was lucky enough to work with for a few years and who has never been afraid to be disruptive to keep all of us thinking beyond the obvious. We need this festival, we need culture to fill our hopes and dreams, we need words and scores and stories to pave our immediate future.
Next is the translation from a French interview I did with Franjou while I was still confined in New York and she was already planning this week’s performances (published in Le Petit Journal).
At Your Home Without Me with Leah Pisar
Donald Trump, Ambushed or Unmasked?
[Translated from French]
Over the last few weeks, the health crisis has morphed into a full-fledged socio-political crisis within the United States. An inevitable explosion in unemployment, resulting from these extra-ordinary circumstances, paired with the anti-racist protests and riots sweeping not only the nation, but the world, in the wake of George Floyd’s death, are proof that this is a turbulent period indeed.
In addition to the pandemic and the protests, the White House’s reaction to the upheaval has set the tone for the upcoming presidential election–it is a climate with which the American people have become very familiar over the past three months of quarantine. That is: utterly out of the ordinary.
It still remains difficult to determine whether Donald Trump has cannily taken advantage of a violent political situation mirroring a divided America, one which he does not seem interested in reconciling; or if he has gone too far and, finally, crossed a line. With declining approval ratings, some cracks in the heretofore seamless Republican support he used to enjoy, and disagreement seeping within his own administration, has Donald Trump begun to jeopardize his chances for re-election on Nov. 3rd? The 2020 presidential election will offer voters a stark choice between a divided, individualistic society; and a united America that is open to the world.
It is a struggle between “two visions of America,” in which “the soul of this country and the balance of the world” are at stake, explains Franco-American writer and former advisor to President Clinton Leah Pisar. Current President of the Aladdin Project—a NGO that works for intercultural rapprochement and the rejection of Holocaust denial, racism and anti-Semitism, Leah Pisar naturally sides with openness, humanity, and a shared world.
At Your Home Without Me: The Obstacle Race of Olivier Cassegrain
A jockey smoking a pipe on a galloping horse. In a single blue stroke of pencil, Marion Naufal’s watercolor sums up the challenges of a race, a style, a brand—Longchamp—and of the family Cassegrain whose history has been attached to America right from the start.
Comfortably seated on his New York terrace, the grandson of the Longchamp’s founder, Olivier Cassegrain, is meticulously watching over the American destiny of the family business.
While retail sales in Texas are slowly picking up again, the original Madison Avenue boutique is still closed along with all the other luxury brands in Manhattan. In Soho, the Maison Longchamp remains as empty as the Hudson Yards Vessel where, until a few weeks ago, tourists, business travelers and New Yorkers flocked. “The stairs of the Vessel are with those of the Soho boutique the most famous in New York,” says Cassegrain. They are both the work of the same English architect. “I would be quite happy to see more people on these stairs soon,” adds the Vice-President of Longchamp United States with a smile, “at least a little more on those in SoHo than on those of Hudson Yards.” Filling these stairs is just an additional challenge for the man who loves nothing more than overcoming obstacles with a cigar on his lips.
At Your Home Without Me: The Artistic Mankind of Betsabeé Romero
“Art needs to express itself to safeguard humanity.” These are the words of Betsabeé Romero, a Mexican fixture, sculptor, and a generous, greedy painter who is exhibited around the world. She is a poet and activist too. This humanity—a damaged, confused and self-reflecting humanity—was not prepared to face the brutal consequences of the Covid19 pandemic.
Betsabeé Romero is now listening to the suddenly silent streets of Mexico City, North America’s largest city.
From her little street house in the Villa de Cortés district, the artist is on the lookout for the sadness that invades the world faster than the disease. The absence of funerals. the hidden violence against the women and children in her country. And of course, her own personal fight fight for female artists.
Confined, she writes, draws, and reads, mostly philosophy at the moment. She is thinking about art installations to illustrate the staggered mourning that many people will experience. Incidentally, she has been invited to create and speak on this topic at the Frieze in London this Fall, as well as in Sydney and Rome.