Marseille-Provence 2013, European Capital of Culture

Along with Košice in Slovakia, Marseille is the European Capital of Culture for 2013. From January to December, the year-long programme titled Le partage des midis (Sharing the South) will see numerous highlights and events: the opening of the Museum of European and Mediterranean Civilisations (MuCEM), TransHumance, the International Festival of Arab Cinema, etc.

A regional project

The candidacy for the Marseille Provence region, which was supported by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, came about at the beginning of 2004 on the initiative of the City of Marseille. The aim was to unite a region around a strong cultural project. Today, this project brings together about a hundred town and city councils, including Arles, La Ciotat, Aix-en-Provence and Marseille, representing 1.8 million people. The regional aspect is at the heart of the identity of the cultural project and its programming: thematic routes in the region, touring events, simultaneous events in several locations, art in public spaces. Marseille Provence must invent ways to showcase its entire region, as close as possible to its residents.

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Marseille Provence 2013 (Crédit : LEG)

Exchange and cultural dialogue in the Mediterranean Basin

Exchange is at the heart of Marseille-Provence cultural life; it enables us to be at the forefront of the renewal of arts which speak to us all: circus, street arts, major events based around modern music, digital arts, dance, urban poetry. This vivacity is maintained by a policy of welcoming and establishing artists, creators, and companies which enter new territories and take part in artistic invention and cultural action. The French Foreign Ministry contributes to these exchanges, through the active participation of the Instituts français established in the countries around the Mediterranean, which help to attract artists and set up multidisciplinary projects.

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Love the difference-Mar Mediterraneo 2003-2007 . Photo : Michelangelo
Pistoletto/CNAP/photo : GalerieofMarseille, Marseille

2013 marks the creation of a platform for exchanges and creations between cultures from the two shores, open to European and Mediterranean artists from all backgrounds. These exchanges are present throughout the program and form its common thread. They represent the material for the story of 2013: "Le partage de midis" (Sharing the South).

In order to sustainably open up the territory - which was already rich in festivals and cultural activities - to national and international artistic creation, it was decided to invite artists as of 2008. Among the programmes put in place, Euro-Mediterranean Ateliers, a central project of the European Capital of Culture supported by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, allowed artists from all backgrounds to create works in non-cultural, unusual spaces. Through the Workshops, the European Capital of Culture actively supports Euro-Mediterranean contemporary creation.
Further information on Euro-Mediterranean Ateliers

Three episodes make up the story of 2013 :

  • Episode 1: "Marseille Provence welcomes the world" (January to May),
  • Episode 2: "Open-air events in Marseille Provence" (June to August),
  • Episode 3: "Marseille Provence, the region with a thousand faces"(September to December).

This programme, which was drawn up in collaboration with cultural operators from throughout the region, including teams from the Instituts français in the Mediterranean, includes over 500 events and 100 exhibitions, as well as major highlights and projects (opening weekend, TransHumance - a participative event with animals from France’s Camargue region and Italy – inaugurations of new locations, etc.)

Launch of Marseille-Provence 2013

The European Capital of Culture was launched on 12 and 13 January 2013. The opening weekend attracted 600,000 people to towns and cities throughout Marseille-Provence 2013, including Arles, La Ciotat, Aix-en-Provence and Marseille, i.e. about a third of the population of the Bouches-du-Rhône department.

New locations were inaugurated, such as the J1 – which welcomes the Méditerranées exhibition - and the Tour-Panorama de la Friche la Belle de Mai with the contemporary art exhibition "Here, Elsewhere". Designed as a cultural dialogue between the two shores of the Mediterranean, "Here, Elsewhere" brought together 39 internationally renowned artists from the Mediterranean shore and attracted over 40,000 visitors from January to March.
Further information on the exhibition "Here, Elsewhere"

In total, over two million visitors attended the cultural infrastructures during the first months of the year.

"Open-air events in Marseille Provence"

The second episode began in June 2013, with the following events:

  • "TransHumance" (17 May - 9 June): A key event, TransHumance (17 May – 9 June) takes the form of two journeys in which the humans lead the horses and other animals to converge simultaneously at the same point. An idea formulated by the Centaure theatre, this event is a unique equestrian experience, an invitation to explore exceptional national sites.
    Further information "TransHumance"
  • Opening of the MuCEM Museum – 7 June : The Museum of European and Mediterranean Civilisations, the first national museum in the region, was created by architect Rudy Ricciotti and has a surface area of 26,000m2. The MuCEM is hosting two temporary exhibitions, Au bazar du genre, féminin masculin, a voyage through the many ways of being a man or woman in the Mediterranean and Le Noir et le Bleu, a Mediterranean dream designed as a travel journal: and a permanent exhibition, La Galerie de la Méditerranée. It was officially inaugurated on 4 June by the President of the French Republic and the Minister for Culture.
    Further information on the Museum of European and Mediterranean Civilisations
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Vue depuis les espaces d’exposition du MuCEM (Photo : MuCEM/Lisa Ricciotti)
  • The "Grand Atelier du Midi" (13 June -13 October): The south of France has been an endless source of inspiration for painters. This two-part exhibition presents 200 masterpieces produced between 1880 and 1960, illustrating the different movements which marked the 20th century, including impressionism, fauvism, cubism, surrealism and abstraction. This exhibition will be presented simultaneously in Marseille and Aix-en-Provence.
    Further information on the "Grand Atelier du Midi"
  • "Miniatures Officinae" (28-30 August): La Friche la Belle de mai is inviting the Marseille-based operator Officina to present its Les miniatures project, a choreographic exhibition bringing together over forty contemporary Mediterranean artists. Officina invited seven artists to each spend a week in Marseille between December 2012 and April 2013, leading to the creation of seven new miniatures presented at the Ramallah Contemporary Dance Festival #8 on 19 and 20 April.

The second episode will also see the opening of new locations such as the Musée Borély and the presentation of major projects such as Villa Méditerranée exhibitions, Pompidou Mobile in Aubagne, the installation of Kader Attia on the dyke off the coast of Les Terrasses, and a selection of contemporary dance in the Mediterranean with Août en dance (24 to 31 August).

"Marseille Provence, the region with a thousand faces"

Summary of the third episode (Autumn 2013):

  • "Cuisines en Friche" (11 - 14 September): "Cuisines en Friche" discusses art and cuisine. It brings together chefs, thinkers, artists and the public who want to share together the issues and pleasures associated with cuisine.
  • European Heritage Days (14-15 September): For this event, multiple routes and walks will be opened up to the public including around GR®2013. This weekend will also see the opening of the new Musée d’Histoire in Marseille.
  • "LC" at the J1 (11 October to 12 January 2014): exhibition on the work of Le Corbusier who sets out his work as an architect, town planner and more generally linked with the whole field of plastic arts.
  • InnovArt (10 October to 10 November): InnovArt is a plural project dedicated to the relationship between contemporary relations and new technologies.
  • Focus on literature : the autumn will see various events on writing and literature, including on the True Tales of the Mediterranean project
  • Autumnal scenes: the third episode will be particularly rich in artistic offerings. It will begin with the 12th edition of ActOral (25 September to 13 October) around contemporary art and writing and will continue with performing arts including contemporary Arab dramatic art (25 November to 1 December).

For further information: