L’AiR Arts Virtual Salon

This is a piece to say thank you to the AiRArts community.

Last night, I had the pleasure and privilege of taking part in a virtual salon organised by Deanna Galati and Mayumi Lashbrook, two amazing creative performers from l’AiR Arts. This is an artists’ residency that myself and other representatives of Paris Lit Up collaborated with in January – three weeks of workshops, museums, walking tours, restaurants, experiences and that most beloved of elixirs – conversation.

The wonderful person behind this is Mila Ovchinnikova, who succeeded in bringing people together from all over the world, creating the perfect environment for friendships and imaginations to grow, and creating a lasting connection that will weather the stormiest of days. Throughout the whole salon, we were thankful for this memory and what it means for us. A big thank you to Mila for her inspiring drive and gleaming determination – we all look forward to future projects with you.

There was, of course, a practical element to the salon. One member presented an idea for a project involving Marie Vassilieff and a certain party in the 1920s. Sought, we then gave her advice and suggestions to see how she will best be able to represent this party. It seems that we all own several books on Paris in the 1920s and that being inspired by these photographs will help create the setting. For my part, I had asked if I could present this blog as my writing project since the beginning of this year. I was given invaluable advice on ways to connect more with people and create a community around all things written. I thank you all for your wise words and advice. 

Throughout the salon, we had a chance to share our musings on the situation we are currently living. As I said, it was a chance to carry on the conversation with a group of astute, perspicacious and imaginative artists – who wouldn’t want to be part of this conversation? Disclaimer: though this might not necessarily represent what the whole group has to say unanimously, here are some themes that I noted down while listening to others. 

First of all, we are witnessing the evolution of ‘a new paradigm’. There is change in the air and artistic rules will mutate into new forms; we have seen that the ‘world is so fragile and everything changes so fast’ that we need to keep our finger on the pulse to know what’s happening. We need ‘to be one step further to see what needs to be created’ and where in the future the responsibility for creative arts will lie. It might be cliché, but the future is indeed unwritten.

However, an acceptance of this change involves accepting that our lifestyles before the epidemic were simply not sustainable, with a particular reference to international travel and mobility. This might be a painful moment for some, whose lives and livelihoods are based around the possibility of moving from place to place. Also, ‘knowing that so many people are suffering around us’ makes you question the utility of art at moments like this, or is it just some distraction of the privileged?

These are the darker side of our thoughts and, though they are a ripe area for creative cultivation, staying with them for too long will ultimately be a counterproductive effect. Let us concentrate on the media at our disposal to share our passion and our drive. 

Therefore, the question remains: how will we create art in the future? ‘Don’t change your lifestyle to become an internet blogger,’ but be aware that live performances will have to be rethought, galleries and museums will have to adapt to present their collections and new rules will mean new breaking of rules. But isn’t it within constraint that the artist, not necessarily the arts, can thrive – don’t words, feelings and images within a sonnet resonate all the more for being confined to the 14 walls of its form?

Finally, it was a sensitive time. We were asked at the beginning to share our thoughts and feelings, anything that we needed to say in order to be present. It was a true moment of appreciation, because we were not only heard, but actively listened to, and this is when the strongest links are formed. It was incredible to share, but it was sublime to observe. 

I’d like to leave you on a story one member shared. It was a perfect day in Australia, after restrictions had been relaxed and so people can visit friends with their children. There was lemon cake (a gift for helping someone get a job), a Californian accent (the friend with their child) and pots of tea (what else would you drink with cake?) This story conjured up the sensation of togetherness perfectly and I look forward to the next time I will experience this, not vicariously, but for myself, for others, for you. 

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