the Ile-de-France region cuts supplies to Ateliers Médicis

The news fell like a thunderbolt. On Wednesday, December 7, the Ile-de-France region, led by Valérie Pécresse (LR), announced that it would suspend its 150,000-euro grant to the Ateliers Médicis for 2023. A blow to this artist residence that opened in 2018 in Clichy- sous-Bois (Seine-Saint-Denis), to introduce art – and a little hope – in a suburb that has become the symbol of repeated failures of public policy. To justify its decision, the region invokes the funding from the public establishment of the festival Les Chichas de la Pensée, organized by the controversial Mehdi Meklat.

The former darling of the media, voice of the excluded i Bondy Blog, then a columnist at France Inter, saw his meteoric rise shattered following the unearthing in 2017 of the thousands of anti-Semitic, homophobic and sexist tweets he had published, from 2011 to 2015, under the pseudonym Marcelin Deschamps. Mehdi Meklat, born in 1992, invoked the mistakes of youth, tried to put out the fire by summoning an evil virtual doppelganger. In 2018, the young Francilien renews his apologies in a book, Autopsypublished by Grasset, and from which Laurent Cantet was inspired for his film Arthur Rambo (2021).

Invoking the right to be forgotten and to a second chance, the Ateliers Médicis agreed in 2020 to welcome the young man among their residents. “We had a very clear discussion with Mehdi about his career”entrusts the management, attached to “republican and secular values”. Mehdi Meklat and his lifelong companion, Badroudine Saïd Abdallah, were then tasked with designing and producing a monthly podcast, Les Chichas de la Pensée. The ambition is to connect young people from Clichy-sous-Bois and Montfermeil (Seine-Saint-Denis) with artists under 30, from working-class neighborhoods.

“Strong and professionalism”

Convinced of the result, the management decided to continue the adventure by co-producing, up to 20,000 euros per season, in 2020-2021 and then in 2022-2023, a festival also called Les Chichas de la Pensée, organized around decolonial issues. A cultural project which, in the establishment’s eyes, i.a. “holds high values ​​of citizenship and otherness and participates in the emergence of a new generation of artists”. This free festival, which attracts personalities such as the filmmakers Alice Diop and Raoul Peck, the writer Mohamed Mbougar Sarr or the American videographer Arthur Jafa, is sold out in La Villette, Théâtre de la Ville or Théâtre Nanterre-Amandiers.

You have 49.96% of this article left to read. The following is for subscribers only.

Leave a Comment