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Since 2008


Finis terræ


Ushant island
Finistère, BRETAGNE
| ARTISTS IN RESIDENCY
AT THE CRÉAC’H SEMAPHORE |


In 2008, during a short residency in Fort de France, I mention the project of a residency in Ushant to Célia Crétien. Together we decide to create the Finis Terrae association. The fitting-out works in the Créac’h semaphore for artists’ residencies are almost done in Ushant. A project of the Conseil général du Finistère, initiated and supervised by Rodolphe Rohart, which aims to develop artists’ residencies supported by associations in Finistère.

In 2008, I am the only resident (beside the semaphore), and I am looking for the descendants of the actors featured in the movie Finis Terrae, which the director Jean Epstein made in 1928 during his retreat in Ushant. Closely connected to the landscape, I film the cliffs and almost simultaneously I film portraits of these descendants.

In the book (Jean Epstein- Cinéaste des îles – éditions Jean-Michel Place), Vincent Guiguenot talks about Jean Epstein’s retreat in Ushant and writes: “Jean Epstein, by working on the event and the myth, sets up an archaic and pantheist relationship between mankind and the elements: water, air, fire, earth. He experiences at the world’s frontier, the finis terrae, a poetic writing that gives as much importance to nature and to objects as to its characters. The sea is a living character whose unfurling swell is the tongue, the lighthouse’s lenses are the eyes that look at the ocean.” The residency of the Créac’h semaphore is, because of its context, very demanding. It can lead to many forms of thinking, attitudes, short and long-term projects, suspensions, poses. It is an important step for the artists involved in the project. The isolation, insularity, the end of the world, present themselves head-on in this exceptional site.

The association is currently adding new active participants, who are precious additions in terms of diversity of perceptions and propositions. Time has allowed to strengthen the required relationship with different local partners. Projects and questions coexist and the life of the association resembles an artwork in constant evolution.

Marcel Dinahet
President and founder of the association




Finis terrae

Association Loi 1901
20, la Chapelle du Mur – 29610 Plouigneau – FRANCE
n° SIRET : 503 731 663 000 12

Context

Finis terrae offers artists and art critics a one-month residency in order to pursue an idea, and artistic action or the production of an artwork/publication that tackles questions about the sea, coast, landscape, insularity … The artists are provided with furnished and equipped housing as well as a work room, located in a semaphore.

Openings

The residencies are open to foreign artists and the association regularly collaborates with regional art centers and neighboring schools. The partnership punctuates the interactions and is essential for sharing the experiences and creations.

Renditions : events et publications

The association organizes more punctual events such as exhibitions, conferences, meetings, etc. Exhibitions have already been organized in collaboration with Passerelle – Centre d’art contemporain à Brest, le Quartier, centre d’art contemporain à Quimper and the Frac Bretagne. A bilingual catalog, which details the residencies from 2008 to 2012, was made in July 2013.

Artist selection

Artists, French or foreign, are selected by the members of the association. No open application is expected. Invited artists are from all ages and horizons.

Financial means

Each resident receives a grant of 3000 euros.

Partners

– Lampaul Highschool– Ushant
– EESAB : Ecole Européenne Supérieure d’Art de Bretagne
– Frac Bretagne
– La Criée — contemporary art center in Rennes
– Le Quartier — contemporary art center in Quimper
– Mains d’Œuvres —artistic wild land in the North of Paris
– Lighthouses and Beacons Museum
– Passerelle — contemporary art center in Brest
– City of Rennes — open studios

Arts en résidence – National network

Finis terrae is a member of the national network Arts en residence (Arts in residency), which federates residencies of authors, in the contemporary art field, in France.
Website : http://www.artsenresidence.fr

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Financiers

The association is financed by the Conseil général du Finistère, the Conseil régional de Bretagne and the Direction régionale des affaires culturelles de Bretagne.

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Ouessant
A Stopover for Artists



Located on the westernmost point of the island, at the foot of an emblematic lighthouse and the musée des Phares et Balises, our lighthouse and beacons museum, the Sémaphore du Créac’h watched over seamen and boats for decades. After years of loyal and dutiful service, it was “decommissioned”, as one would say in the Navy, only to start a new life under the ownership of the Conseil général du Finistère. Working closely with Ouessant’s city council, the Conseil général decided to “recommission” the Sémaphore by turning it into an artist’s residence. The watchroom at the top of this structure affords visitors a 180° view of the ocean. Rising from Ouessant’s rocky landscape, it opens creativity to a wider horizon of endeavours.

Artists have been coming to Ouessant for over a century, curious to find a space where humans are permanently in contact with the elements ―a space for standing back and putting things in perspective, in all senses of the term. Already in 1928, Jean Epstein left Paris for Ouessant, where he carried out the aesthetic and theoretical researches which gave birth to the images in his film Finis terræ. Our artists in residence come from various places and have followed distinctive paths. Many are from other countries, and the different relationships they establish with the island and its inhabitants invariably give rise to enriching exchanges.

The residencies organised by the association Finis terrae are rooted in Ouessant’s landscape and look out to the sea in order to allow artists to reflect upon and intervene into the field of contemporary art. The city council and the musée des Phares et Balises are the first institutional ports of call for these artists during their stopover on the island, just as they are for the many seamen in Ouessant who have travelled the world far and wide. These two works reveal the power of this scrap of unspoilt land, and engage subtly with its history, its culture, and the fascination it has always exerted.

Denis Palluel
Mayor of Ouessant

 


Team



Board members

Marcel Dinahet is an artist and worked as a professor at the École des beaux-arts in Rennes. In 2015, he had two solo exhibitions « Burning the boats », the first at the Domobaal gallery in London and the second in Bogota at the Alliance Française, with the support of the gallery Les filles du Calvaire in Paris. From March to August 2015, he was showcased in the exhibition “ The sea in the middle of lands” at the Es baluard de La Palma Museum in Majorca. The work is situated on the coast.

Ron Haseldenis an English artist who works between London and Brittany. His work is characterized by using several media of expression, such as light, electronics, sound, film or video. He recently presented his work in London (Camden Art Center ; Domobaal gallery), Liverpool (International Biennial), New York (Florence Lynch Gallery) and in several exhibitions throughout Europe.

Artistic director

Ann Stouvenel is responsible for residencies for authors -artists, curators, art critics, graphic designers, theorists- and a independent curator who works with institutions. After missions at the gallery Art &Essai- Université Rennes 2, at the Centre Pompidou and the Istanbul Bienniale, she was the director of the Verrières – Pont-Aven workshops-residencies from 2008 to 2013, and the visual arts director at Mains d’Oeuvres, artistic wild land in the North of Paris, from 2013 to 2020. Since 2012, she has been the artistic director of the residencies organized by Finis terrae – Insular Art Center, based in the Créac’h semaphore on the island of Ushant, off the coast of Brest.
Ann Stouvenel is also the co-founder and president of the association Arts en résidence- Réseau national, fédération de résidences françaises (Arts in residency- national network, French residencies federation), member of the curatorial collective label hypothèse and a board member of  the CIPAC, contemporary art professionals federation.

Invited members of the association

Honorary members: Nadia Fartas,literature and visual arts scholar, Sophie Kaplan, director of La Criée, contemporary art center in Rennes and Rodolphe Rohart, cultural manager.

Invited members:Catherine Elkar,former director of the FRAC Bretagne, Emma-Charlotte Gobry-Laurencin, director of communications Galerie Kamel Mennour and Marie Palluel,post-production coordinator.

The members bring a theoretic support to the association and a precious help regarding the creation of the different projects that are led by Finis terrae, in Ushant or elsewhere.

Graphic design

Benoit Böhnke


Finis terrae


Talk with Marcel Dinahet, founder and President of the Finis terrae association and Ann Stouvenel, artistic director. March 2018


Ann Stouvenel: How did this residency project come to life?

Marcel Dinahet: The residency project came from far away; I have been attracted to the island of Ushant for a long time. From 2000 onwards, I organized workshops, which were based at the ornithologist center, a few steps from the Créac’h lighthouse. I was a teacher at the art school in Rennes then and we had sometimes joined our research with the university and geography students led by their professor Hervé Regnauld. The last workshop was made with a group of teachers and students from four art schools in Brittany. Moreover, I was interested in Jean Epstein’s films and the relationships he had built at the beginning of the last century with the inhabitants of Ushant, the islands and the ocean. In 2007 and 2008, I started a personal project (I made a series of portraits of the descendants of the actors from the film Finis Terraeand I met and became close to these people). I then made a series of video portraits of the cliffs in Ushant. That took time and I had to be present on the island. With Celia Crétien, we originally created the association Finis terraeto organize two days of broadcasting artist films that were about the sea and insularities, with the help of  Mayor Denis Palluel who gave us access to the premises. At that time, I learned that the Finistère department was restoring the semaphore in order to put an artist residency into place. Rodolphe Rohart, who piloted the operation for the department, offered us to use the semaphore every year for two months for two residents. This residency quickly became the association’s project.

AS: A French artist and a foreign one come each year and other artists or theorists can be included, depending on possible collaborations. The residency comes with a scholarship and production costs. The main goal is to offer a frame conducive to take some distance and leave everyday life behind for a given time. It seems to me that this project is very much unique and essential for creation. Can we talk about the development of a community, 10 years after the first residency? Is there a spirit developing around the project?

MD: I realize that a residency project takes time to fall into place. On the island, the information travels quickly and the presence of an artist attracted a lot of attention at first, a lot of comments. Artists made themselves known, each in their own way. Some developed relationships. Successive residents constructed the project in this context. The discovery, the unexpected, unsettled their practice sometimes. Elements, the extreme nature of the landscape, the possibility of being alone, a month, at the semaphore, under the Créac’h lighthouse, the most powerful lighthouse in Europe in front of the Atlantic Ocean at the beginning of the Channel, puts the artist in an exceptional position. The question is to see if this position in this place creates a common mindset in the artists’ practice. In my opinion, this worldwide dimension, linked to a place where we find ourselves, is bound to create a link, maybe perceptible, in the artists’ practices. In this sense, one can talk about a community of artists that have come to the semaphore.

AS: I am always curious to discover the work of residents after their time in Ushant. The island transforms itself in an experimental field. Its location, atmosphere, history and traditions, very specific, are explored by the artists and theorists who live there. During his time, Jean Epstein filmed landscapes like portraits. When you travelled, what caught your eye and what were your interrogations?

MD: In the book Jean Epstein. Cinéaste des îles(Ed. Jean Michel Place), Vincent Guignent writes: « By going to Brittany, Jean Epstein doesn’t forget his intentions or his cinematographic grammar. By working on the event and the myth, he sets an archaic and pantheist relation between mankind and the elements: water, air, fire and earth. He experiences the limits of the world, the finis Terrae, a poetic writing that gives as much importance to nature and objects as to its characters. The sea is a living character whose swell is the language, the optics of the lighthouse are eyes that watch the ocean.” In Ushant, the island holds a dimension that is interesting to experience physically. It is spread to allow us a long walk to visit and discover it. One could say that the island is an amplifier! When there is low atmospheric pressure, the wind is more violent than on the continent, the dimensions of the rocks and the unfurling waves become huge. In opposition, the islanders are safe in their little houses. The entire island is being tested by the storm. Twenty-four hours after, calm can have returned. During every stay, I discover and think I see the details of the littoral in a different way. That probably has to do with the variations of the simultaneity of elements at play. This simultaneity brings me to new perceptions. In this engaging process, I give a lot of space to intuition; it’s sometimes necessary to accept dead ends in order to move forward.

AS: How do the inhabitants of Ushant meet the residents? What relationships have developed?

MD: The progressive anchoring of the association on the island first started with its relation with the Musée des Phare et Balises (Museum of Lighthouses and Beacons), with Delphine Kermel, its director, and also with the city hall through its Mayor Denis Palluel. These two people were extremely helpful in making us meet the inhabitants (providing premises, presenting the residents’ artworks to them, helping us make projects, meeting them in the context of projects, even housing the residents, etc.) According to the field of research of the residents, they managed to create direct and diversified relationships with the inhabitants. Several artists, for example, were invited to talk in a high school in collaboration with the teachers. 

AS: During this residency, there is a real experience. Alone in the semaphore, every moment is lived, fiercely. I’m also thinking of the elements that are very much present.

MD: Yes, to be in a position of watcher at the interface between the Atlantic Ocean and the continent, in front of the ocean, is a beautiful starting point for thought. To spend every night under the giant sweeps of the “two white beams joined in rotation” of the Créac’h lighthouse (the title of Enrique Ramirez’s video which now belongs to the Frac Bretagne), is at the center of this signal that sweeps the invisible horizon, alone in the night. In the middle of the elements, especially when there is a storm, sea sprays go over the semaphore. It is also a very specific relationship to space.

AS: Why is taking some distance important? Can we talk about risk taking?

MD: As soon as you lay foot on the island, it becomes very present. The relationship to elements appears to you in a very frontal manner. One receives so much information that it’s often necessary to spend time to take some distance.

AS: This context seems to be favorable for artists searching for something, to pullback. What follow-through can one give to the experience in the semaphore, short and long-term? What repercussions can this residency have on an artistic work?

MD: Time builds this project. Year after year, what the residency provides to artists, in their practice and their approach, can lead us to think that this ensemble has to be considered as a big space for reflection (insular at the extremity of the continent.) The majority of artists gives back generously and under different forms what the amplitude of the landscape has given them. The association does not have exhibition spaces for the works made during the residency. The  Musée des Phare et Balises  and the city hall help us periodically. Works have had the chance to be shown, notably for very recent works: Eléonore Saintagnan at the Diagonale art center in Montréal, Gregory Buchert at Mains d’Œuvres in Saint-Ouen, Laurent Tixador at the Art & Essai gallery at the Université Rennes 2, Pauline Delwaule at the Centre Pompidou, or Enrique Ramirez at the art center Le Grand Café in Saint-Nazaire. Ihave also noticed that past residents come back to continue their experience and others are hoping to come back to this piece of land in the middle of the ocean. Underneath its treacherous austere appearance, this island offers us a never-ending renewal of perspectives.