ReturnAstro Headlines at Paris Urban Art Festival Label Valette
Label Valette is a completely unique fixture in the global calendar of graffiti and street art. The festival, organized by childhood friends Mathieu Desbourdes and Sébastien Lis, takes place around 130 km from Paris and combines style writing and mural painting with music that reflects the inner-city roots of the artforms. Each year, the spotlight is given to an artist who completely transforms the skin of the Valette Castle, providing an incredible backdrop to the event.
After the dust had settled on a successful fourth edition, MTN News got in touch with artistic curators Jeane Vinot and Sébastien Lis to talk about managing festival under tricky conditions, the fantastic art produced in 2021 and plans for the fifth edition.
What were the most enjoyable aspects of Label Valette 2021 for you?
Jeane: Artistic residencies, community life and the Hors-les-Murs challenge that gets bigger year after year.
Sébastien: Without a doubt, the entire preparation period with the welcoming of the artists in residence. We mobilized a lot of volunteers during this period. Lots of people were present and so we had the opportunity to learn more about the process of creating murals.
And then, as Jeane says, community life is important, like sharing meals, parties, barbecues, for example. For six months, we lived almost full time on the site. This year we welcomed 19 artists between April and September!
This intense period involves a lot of effort for the staff. It’s mentally and physically exhausting with long days of work!
And the most difficult?
Jeane: The human side, because it’s surely the most difficult aspect to manage in such a collective and social project. Astro was chosen to paint the centerpiece of this year’s festival.
Sébastien: There’s the human aspect but also the entire current context with COVID-19 which has given us a lot sleepless nights in terms of organization! We had to reschedule almost the entire line up because of travelling restrictions at that time.
From an international program, we have refocused on France and certain countries of the European Union like the Netherlands, Belgium and Spain.
Each artist had to do a PCR test before arriving at the site, which had become a health bubble, and the volunteers were also tested. It was a lot of organization too.
Also, the whole administrative aspect of organizing the festival, the limited capacity and the compulsory health pass made our job even more complicated.
Why did you choose Astro to star in the 2021 edition?
Jeane: He represents the perfect transition between calligraphy, black and white work and the less consensual side of graffiti. His meticulous use of optical illusions, mixed with his calligraphy creates an abstract universe, halfway between graffiti and post-graffiti. The list of artists who painted during the festival was also very strong.
Sébastien: We reflect a lot on the scenography and the story of the artists present in each edition. A sense of progress has been put in place at the site of the estate where the visitors come and discover the work in an order that we’ve defined.
The centerpiece is always the castle. After Atlas, the idea was to go to an artist bridging graffiti and abstract art. The work that Astro offers fits perfectly into this reflection and evolution of the movement that we want to be communicate year after year.
Jeane and I often share the same vision of the approach to be taken, but our artistic tastes may differ, which makes the exchanges rich and passionate, with always a consensus at the end.
What are you looking for in participating artists?
Jeane: Diversity, originality and the space for emerging artists. The curator of the Montana Gallery in Barcelona, Anna Dimitrova, was also involved this year, as part of the jury of the graffiti competition.
Sébastien: To be continually discovering new talents but also to allow the inhabitants and the public here to see in them a great signature of the street art and/or graffiti world.
What were the end results of the graffiti contest?
Bims, who represented in Rennes’ Teenage Kicks Association, won the fourth edition of the graffiti contest.
Along with the festival, you also organized "Hors les Murs", a series of artistic residencies in French cities which gave rise to the creation of spectacular murals. Does this represent an increased appreciation of graffiti art in rural communities?
Jeane: Yes, in the sense that urban art can find its place in rural settings. Thanks to its power to unify and enhance, urban art in the countryside represents an extension of its history.
Born in the underground and as a counterculture, it is now a unique and surely the most vital movement in art history. Urban art in the countryside makes it possible to bring a means of expression in all places not used to it.
Do you have confirmed dates for the fifth edition in 2022?
Sébastien: Like every year, Hors-les-Murs will be the prelude for the new edition. We don’t have the exact dates for this yet. Still, we will soon be communicating on the next theme that will be addressed.
And, for the fifth edition of the festival, yes, we have the dates! It will take place on August 26 and 27, 2022, at Domaine de la Valette in Pressigny-les-Pins (45), France!
Tickets for the 2022 edition of Label Valette are now available right here!
Photos by Fabe CollageShareJanuary 11, 2022