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Art Rocket, 2010-11 Cooperation awarded project

Meeting with Julien Dupont from l’Atelier Flexible, co-creator of the Art Rocket project. Art Rocket was designed with two collectives of artists, which took part in the 2010 NCG Forum, OK Corral and BlackPort Design Kollektiv. Art Rocket was outstanding because of the links it creates between artistic approach and urban space, via ephemeral installations.

How did you work with your European partners, who didn’t know the site where their work was to be displayed?
Julien Dupont: We spend a lot of time discussing the project using Skype, then writing it down and re-writing: it’s the fruit of a truly collective collaboration. What’s more, we weren’t able to accept a request from another collective to join the project a few days before the submission of the project. We felt that it was important to submit a project which was the result of a real team effort by all the parties involved.
We suggested that artists discover the site ’virtually’, thanks to an interactive internet workshop. We put up maps of Saint Nazaire and the Petit Maroc area, photos and videos, so they could picture the location and imagine their art works. We expected a fresh and different look. They were given free rein with their installation suggestions. Once their art works conceptualised, they were faced with the real space, which lead to some changes to the installations, sometimes even some radical changes to the initial proposals.

What was the added value of the involvement in Nantes Creative Generations for Art Rocket?
Julien Dupont: The participation in Nantes Creative Generations was decisive for the project. We already had thoughts and ideas for Petit Maroc, but thanks to NCG and the Co-operation Award, they took on a European dimension. The Co-operation Award was the catalyst to turn the idea into a project. When we were told about the prize being launched, we immediately were contact OK Corral and BlackPort DK, to make the most of this opportunity.
Thanks to the Award, we were able to go to the European Commission to ask for financial support. Art Rocket was co-funded by the Youth in Action programme. This funding had a multiplying effect, as we were then able to invite about twenty visual artists in residence, which was three times more than we could have invited just using the co-operation prize. But without the Award, and without the meetings made possible through NCG, we would not have been there. That was the real catalyst.

What is the next step?
Julien Dupont: The installations are ephemeral. They tell a single story at a set time in a specific place. In another place, they will not tell the same story. The rocket was always meant to be a nomadic project, hence the name. It can be set in other urban districts, or ’land’ in other European cities. We are prioritising the project’s partner cities. If the rocket touching down in Copenhagen would require a bit of time, we may take a week to go to Pforzheim in 2012 to work with BlackPort DK as part of a cultural event in the City. These discussions are reminiscent of BlackPort DK at the ’AJT’ festival in Nantes last June.