By Lise Guehenneux

Visiting the Antre Peaux in Bourges is always a return to where, in the 1980s, a sort of militant family was created and recognized, federated around certain students from the school of fine arts within an association called Emmetrop.

Elisabeth Delval and Kriss Olivier recall this intense period of beginnings between Bourges and Paris, of successive squats in Paris and Montreuil next to a recording studio where bands would pass through, of connections with the rock bar movement, with autonomists, of squatting in Bourges in the biscuit factory, of returning for the bicentennial to build sets, then choosing this wasteland when the group refused outlandish proposals to make them livable, of concerts, street performances, work in the housing estates, of constant bubbling, a daily reality whose keystone was solidarity at all levels, particularly economic.

An aspiration to fight against injustices, to share democratic aspirations that the advent of the left to power in 1981 had not calmed down, in 1983 the turn towards austerity and realpolitik now being on the agenda when Malik Oussékine falls in 1986, murdered by the riot police, special law enforcement forces who come to clean up the Latin Quarter after the passage of a massive student demonstration against the Devaquet law in Paris.

Like an echo of the policy inaugurated by Thatcher in the United Kingdom towards a liberal economic model where subsidies to culture, especially those of art schools, are reduced to zero, while in France, the regalian Ministry of Culture still offers hope for public services. Like a wave crossing the Channel, a rock scene develops throughout the country that is not simply a counterculture born at the Palace, but across the territory groups, places become landmarks of an artistic expression marked by punk, a desire for autonomy, a tool of emancipation. To name just a few, there will be first of all all the possible rock bars while the Paris City Hall resists and the capital gentrifies at full speed, the Pali-kao factory, the Confort Moderne in Poitiers, a whole network of which the Emmetrop association is a part.

Today, still faithful to the criteria that saw it born, Antre Peaux  has managed to maintain a human scale with concert halls that respect the relationship between musicians and audiences. This attention recalls how in the 1980s, parallel to the official Spring Festival of Bourges, which tends to become just another industrial machine serving show business, the majors for production, the punks, of which Emmetrop is part, invent the Ouff bar festival, how the punk movement wanted to control the entire creative process.

The exhibition « Salut à toi » (Hello to You) celebrates both this rich 40-year history and the very strong ties that bind this joyful band to the punk group Bérurier Noir, almost permanent guests at concerts organized in different venues when the association does not yet have walls. Far from playing on nostalgia, the 13 artists invited on this occasion show how current artists are still mobilized.

Physically, their presence energizes the space. While the stairwell pulsates with the sounds of Bérurier Noir spreading throughout the industrial architecture of the place, the walls serve as manifestos where various devices come to life. Artist Baby Badalov, a political refugee since 2011, works with this street language by composing a whole wall of protest posters collected daily in the Barbès neighborhood with calligraphic motifs.

Another wall, « The wall of the agitated » by François Guillemot alias Fanxoa, presents an intergenerational constellation whose reading opens up an understanding of the human substance that presides over the rebellious spirit of the place.

On the balustrades of the different floors served by a spiral staircase, large banners are hung where the words chosen and spoken by prisoners and captured by artist Céline Ahond are sewn in large format. The movement of the banners, the walls bearing galleries of portraits, those of the punk scene.

Photographed by Ralf Marsault for example, like many other pieces, notably delightful repulsive portraits of fascists painted by Jean-Xavier Renaud, combative works by Erwan Keruzoré, or the foamy tapestries of Juliette Vanwaterloo to denounce violence, along with the different videos, emit an energy that, after a particularly rich opening with performances, notably that of the Ramoneurs de Menhirs, until the last session, that of the feminist punk group Foune Curry, can only take place here, a place where luxury consists in never forgetting who all this is for, always in solidarity.


Salut à toi exhibition at Antre Peaux Bourges, until May, 5th, 2024.


Photographer: Margot Montigny




Pin It on Pinterest

Share This