Issue #217  7/13/2015
Pity the Poor French: Minister Of Culture Proposes Bureaucratic National Photography Council; Fires Controversial Head of Paris School of Fine Arts Precipitously

By Alex Novak

Minister of Culture, Fleur Pellerin, announced at the beginning of the Rencontres Internationales de la Photographie at Arles that he and the French government would create a National Photography Council, possibly by the end of this year.

Pellerin said that the council would be set up as a two-person government office that would "work on topics that are important to you and that you care about, such as the evolution of social protection as employees or artists, work and tax issues, evolution in legal protections of intellectual property in a context of 'accelerated liberalization'."

The new board would work in conjunction with the Conseil National pour les Arts Visuels (National Council of Visual Arts), and meetings would be planned for autumn.

French photo collectors, dealers, galleries, auction houses and curators prepare yourselves for further bureaucracy, taxes and paperwork. When a French bureaucrat says that he is coming to help you, I assume that you know what that means.

This same Ministry of Culture fired the controversial Nicolas Bourriaud, director of the Ecole des Beaux-Arts. Bourriaud got himself in trouble because he was trying to connect the school and its student more directly to the business of art. Heaven forbid that students should actually learn something real about the market that they would be working in. As I said in the newsletter last summer about the dustup then, "It seems that the national pastime in France is to make sure that no innovation is ever put forward successfully or that no practical approaches are ever made. Ah, France." (For that coverage last year, click here: http://www.iphotocentral.com/news/article-view.php/216/205/1341/0/1/10.)

Ironically, for everyone involved the issue was settled business, until the Ministry of Culture decided for some unknown reason to inject itself a year later into the mess.

Le Comité Professionnel des Galeries d’Art challenged the Minister, questioning "the arbitrariness of the decision." The Art Gallery Committee noted that the action came after last year's issues had settled "into a peaceful climate in the school, reflecting the positive development of relations between administrative, educational and student bodies."

The gallery group noted that the action showed "the lack of connection and consideration by the government for the artists and the art world. One of the most direct consequences of this decision is a great misunderstanding internationally, because France once again, seems to do everything to get rid of its elites who are admired abroad."

Seems like the Minister should have been fired for all these actions, rather than Nicolas Bourriaud. Perhaps President Hollande can replace Minister Pellerin with Bourriaud, who certainly seems more deserving and competent to me.