I recently visited the Performing Arts Forum or PAF about two hours northeast of Paris. I heard about PAF from a number of different folks who got involved with GCAS over the past few years. I heard great things about this space and now it was time for me to visit PAF myself especially considering that GCAS will be holding our Summer Institute and Conference there in June, 2018.
PAF was founded by the artists-anarchist, Jan Ritsema in 2006 and is an artist-run residency program located near St. Erme. The space is beautiful and big. It was originally built as a convent in the 1830s. Over the years the convent expanded before finally closing in the 1960s. During WWII it was occupied by the Nazis and later served as an American hospital located just 10 kilometers from the front lines during 1944. In the 1970s a hippy commune took it over until, in the late 1980s, the group turned into a cult, and facing legal issues was forced to vacate. The place was left vacate until Jan bought it over a decade ago. Since 2006 the ownership was diversified to 50 people among whom Dr. Sviatlana Viarbitskaya (a GCAS Researcher) is an co-owner.
Sviatlana is one of those magical people that has an uncommon and creative vision and lives out a life performing philosophy, film, art and dance. Sviatlana suggested that GCAS partner with PAF to hold various seminars in this special space. So it wasn't long before I just had to visit.
My visit there was a delightful surprise. Previously in my life I had worked, and for a short time lived, in communities in the States including a few Catholic Worker houses. PAF is special place where within minutes of showing up I met with novelists from the California and Amsterdam, philosophers from Paris, dancers from Norway and filmmakers from Canada. Together we cooked dinner and shared wine as we freely discussed many and diverse topics from the nature of language to philosophy, to the future of art. It was amazing.
PAF is a non- hierarchical space where artists, writers, filmmakers and philosophers come to work. That is the primary point of PAF to come to work on projects in a space unlike any other I've experienced.
The next day, I awoke to Peacocks perched on the outside of my window with the sun illuminating them like firebirds. Sviatlana and I met to discuss her next research project and went on a walk around the PAF in the countryside. It was a space full of creativity, vitality, conversation, and, above all creative work.
This is why GCAS will be organizing more seminars at PAF--a nodal point of creation in which shared ideas and artistic productions materialize.
I want to thank Jan and Sviatlana for meeting with me to discuss GCAS and PAF in the afternoon and for dinner. I am excited about the future of GCAS and PAF.
And now I am off to meet with more GCASians in Hamburg, Germany before heading to Chile and Argentina for more GCAS events.