Art exhibitions in Pointe-à-Pitre: Is it over?

Gone are the days when, in order to exhibit at the Rémy Nainsouta Cultural Center in Pointe-à-Pitre – notably in the Édouard Chartol and Louis Beauperthuy halls – artists could offer a work of art to the city hall. From now on, they will have to pay 1,000 euros per month or 250 euros per week – if they want to show their works in the former Saint-Jules hospital, which has become a cultural meeting point. Very popular, especially for its location and size, the center remained closed for a long time because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The new municipality, having claimed to have inherited a colossal deficit (80 million euros), is seeking to fill the city’s coffers. We remember that last year, the mayor said he could not afford to buy toilet paper… If this decision is understandable, it is not unanimous among artists because many of them have not been able to market their production over these last two years because of the health situation of the archipelago and are in a precarious situation. Only a handful of them have been able to get on the path toward the digital by opening an online store.

So is this the right time to ask artists for that kind of money? With all due respect to some elected officials who have built cultural buildings in the territory of their municipality (which is very good!), Pointe-à-Pitre, despite all its setbacks, (deficit, delinquency, insalubrity, closing of shops, depopulation, impoverishment…), remained a cultural city : before the Covid-19 pandemic, almost every week, the public could visit an exhibition in one of the public rooms. Do they want to “break” this cultural dynamism?

In addition, some repairs or improvements need to be carried out at the Rémy Nainsouta Center in order to better showcase the work of exhibitors. Indeed, the lighting on the wall (when there are light bulbs) is very poorly adapted to a painting exhibition ; there is no video surveillance system, the artists’ works can be damaged or stolen in the Édouard Chartol hall located upstairs ; there is no sound equipment… If the building was fully restored after Hurricane Hugo in 1989, today work would be necessary.

The Rémy Nainsouta Center is not the only cultural place where artists-exhibitors must spend money, the same rental rate is requested for the Pavillon de la Ville (former presbytery) located on the Place de la Victoire.

But another question arises : if for years, the condition for exhibiting in one of the city’s halls (not forgetting the famous Centre des Arts et de la Culture) was to offer a work, we imagine that Pointe-à-Pitre which has the “City of Art and History” label now has a large collection of artworks by most of our painters, visual artists, sculptors, photographers etc.

What happened to this art collection? It seems it doesn’t exist. If some paintings are exhibited in certain public places (city hall, media library, etc.), dozens of works have been abandoned, ravaged by moisture, dust, etc. For our part, during an interview in the office of the Édouard Chartol hall at the Rémy Nainsouta Center, we saw on the ground a work by a well-known Guadeloupean sculptor covered with dust.

It could also be that all collected works still exist and that they decorate the walls of some people’s living room.

What is certain is that in the coming days, visiting an art exhibition in a public hall in Pointe-à-Pitre will become a luxury.