Artists from all around the world

Franck Andrianjanahary © DR
Every year hundreds of artists are invited to stay in Paris for a few months to complete a project or within the framework of cultural exchanges. Encounters with some of them who either stay at the Cité Internationale des Arts or at the Centre d’Accueil des Récollets.

[ Information ]

- Cité Internationale des Arts
Tel : 0142787172
- Centre International d’Accueil et d’Echanges des Récollets
Tel : 0153262100
- Ville de Paris, Direction des Affaires Culturelles
Tel : 0142768400
- Culturesfrance
Agency of the ministries of Foreign Affairs and Culture and Communications responsible for international cultural exchanges.
Tel : 0153698300
Stephen Sewell, Australian writer. Franck Andrianjanahary, Malagasy dancer and choreographer. Elena Willis, Canadian photographer. Maya Itoh, Japanese pianist and composer. Pedro Diego Alvarado, Mexican painter. What all these artists have in common is that they are currently in Paris for a few months invited by institutions from their country, the City of Paris or the French government. But they are not the only ones. Every year several hundred enjoy the same fate. All professional artists, selected on the basis of their dossiers, according to their career record or their project, they stay in two exceptional places.

Birds © Elena Willis
The oldest one is the Cité Internationale des Arts, located in the 4th arrondissement and facing the Ile Saint-Louis. Founded in 1965 it counts 309 flats – workshops funded by private or state French and foreign institutions. “Two thirds of the patrons choose the artists they host while the administration of the remaining third of the workshops is left to us and we have commissions which select the beneficiaries” explains Sidney Peyroles, Cité’s director. Stays range from 2 months to 2 years and there are about 900 artists coming there every year. To facilitate meetings between these men and women from all over the world a buffet lunch is organised once a month and artists also have the possibility to exhibit their work or give a concert on the premises. “Here there are no borders, no antiquated notions. Americans, Iranians, Israelis and Palestinians get along with each other without any problems”, underlines Sidney Peyroles.
More recent, the Centre International d’Accueil et d’Echanges des Récollets was opened in 2003. Set up in a former convent just beside the Gare de l’Est, it has 81 flats. There also, some are administrated by foreign structures, others by the City of Paris and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs who allot accommodation to artists for three months in the framework of cultural exchanges or following an open call made every year in April.

Franck Andrianjanahary © DR
 Franck Andrianjanahary
Franck Andrianjanahary is one of them. 25 years old, he started to dance at the age of 17 and says. “I didn’t choose dance, it chose me, it came like that”. In Paris since January 2nd, he is working on a new show he will present in France, Vi-a, a 30 minute solo which tells the story of a man travelling around the the Earth from birth to death. A creation mixing contemporary dance and hip hop. “To live in a foreign country brings me a lot. I was face to face with a new culture and way of life, which made me change my script”. Willing to extend his knowledge, Franck also seized this opportunity to meet dancers, choreographer, professors. “Contrary to what happens in my country, here dancers use classical techniques even when performing contemporary ballets. That’s very interesting”. But he also enjoys watching young street performers. “Because it’s forbidden in Madagascar”. All experiences which might one day help him to set up a dance studio in Antananarivo.

Gopa's Dream © Elena Willis
 Elena Willis
Only a few months ago Elena Willis, who also arrived in January, had no idea she would come to Paris. “Everything happened very quickly. Following an exhibit in Montreal, an association promoting cultural exchanges between France and Canada made me this offer. When such an opportunity comes, I think it’s because you indirectly wanted it and you can’t refuse it”. During her 3 months in Paris, Elena plans to visit galleries, watch exhibitions, meet artists and make herself known. Of course she will also takes pictures, will look for inspirational places. “To be in a new environment stimulates creativity”. However, the only shooting sessions really planned are in Spain where she can have a team and the photographic equipment she needs. For Elena Willis doesn’t use a regular 24 x 36 camera. Most of her pictures are done on 4 x 5 inch negative colour film with a Sinar chamber camera. Painstakingly composed, then printed on 48 x 60 inches large format, they recreate dreams or show people facing the overwhelming power of nature.

Stephen Sewell © T.Joly
 Stephen Sewell
Staying for three months at the Cité Internationale des Arts, Stephen Sewell came through the Australian Council. The author of plays and movie scripts, he is in Paris to finalize two projects. The screen play for a French movie due to be shot in Australia and talking about people who built the first telegraph cable to New Caledonia, from Mont Repos, Queensland. A play featuring Zola and Cézanne at the time the two famous men fell out, and exploring through this subject artistic engagement and integrity, and modernism in art and friendship. “To be here is very helpful for me as I can do research for my work and visit Zola’s house. Moreover, to be a resident for a few months, not a tourist, allows me a better understanding of the French mentality”. Having already written several plays featuring artists, Stephen Sewell is also very well known as an engaged artist. Telling the misadventures of an Australian writer living in the States and opposed to anti terrorism policies, his last play, “Myth Propaganda and Disaster in Nazi Germany and Contemporary America” even became the most awarded play in the Australian Theatre history.

Maya Itoh © T.Joly
 Maya Itoh
Living for the first time in a foreign country, invited to Paris for a year by a Japanese institution, Maya Itoh arrived last October at the Cité Internationale des Arts. “This experience opens my mind, changes me, and will have without doubt an influence on my next compositions”. Wishing to perfect her skill, she is very pleased to be taking lessons at the Ecole Normale de Paris. “The way the French teach has already led me to have a more relaxed arm when I play and to improve my finger touch”. For her, this stay is also the opportunity to attend many concerts, to discover new musicians and to meet artists staying like her at the Cité. A Brasilian composer with whom she will soon play a work, but also sculptors, painters, photographers,… “Talking with them has allowed me to have a better understanding of their art, it’s culturally very enriching”. All that has led her to think now about other trips whereas to begin with she didn’t think of going any further than Paris. “But first I want to explore it completely”.

Pedro Diego Alvarado © T.Joly
 Pedro Diego Alvarado
A naturalistic painter well known in Mexico, Pedro Diego Alvarado is currently staying for 8 months at the Cité Internationale des Arts hosted both by it and the Ville de Paris to which he has offered himself as a candidate. His second long stay in Paris after 1977 – 1978 when he was studying at the Beaux Arts. “I wanted to come to France in order to find a new way to work an approach things as it is easy to do so when you live in a country where light and ideas are different than home”. Very pleased with his workshop facing the Seine, Pedro Alvarado is experimenting with new painting technics and is making a series of portraits. He also plans to go around France, above all in Lubéron whose light and scenery he enjoys. And he will not miss out on visiting exhibitions and places related to painters he likes, Matisse, Cézanne, Courbet, Delacroix, the Impressionists, and Primitives from the School of Avignon. “Being here is like a
sabbatical year for me, I have more freedom than in Mexico where there is a certain demand for my works and where I am often asked to do paintings

February 20, 2009
Thierry Joly 

[ On the agenda ]

- Franck Andrianjanahary will present his solo on March 21st , 13.00, at Micadanses, 16 rue Geoffroy-l’Asnier, 75004 Paris.
A debate about creation will follow the performance.
- Maya Itoh will give a concert at the Cité Internationale des Arts on February 26th at 20.30
- Elena Willis now has exhibitions going on in Guelph and Montreal, in Canada
and in New York. Information on her website ( where a
selection of her pictures is also visible.
- “Myth Propaganda and Disaster in Nazi Germany and Contemporary America” is now on stage at the Deutsches Theatre in Goettingen, in Germany ( and Stephen Sewell will be participating in an audience question and answer session there on February 29th
- Some of Pedro Diego Alvarado works are on display on his website,