Odysées is one of twenty five exhibitions in the programme ' Je suis né étranger'.
Je suis né étranger - I was born a foreigner
"I was born a foreigner, I have lived a foreigner and I will die more foreign still " as written by the French-Lebanese author Amin Maalouf. (The Journey of Baldassare)
These words were the inspiration for the title of a programme of contemporary art exhibitions, organised by les Abattoirs, Museum - Frac Occitanie Toulouse in the Occitan Region of France, to commemorate the 80th anniversary of the Retirada.
Are we born a foreigner or do we become one? To whom are we foreign? If so much displacement is dictated to by the course of history, when we travel whether for life or for an hour, we can all feel what it is to be "a stranger among men" (Albert Camus).
At the beginning of 1939, 500,000 Spanish refugees crossed the Pyrenees to flee the Franco regime following three years of civil war. Occitania is deeply marked by Spanish exile. Many refugee camps were installed within its territory, either on the beaches of Roussillon or within the countryside. Exiles, including artists, established themselves and built communities. Many of them then joined the Resistance during the Second World War.
Taking the exhibition 'Picasso and Exile' as a starting point; A history of Spanish art in resistance (at the Abattoirs Museum, from March 15 to August 25, 2019), the program 'I was born a foreigner', that brings together more than 60 artists, gender parity, of 29 different nationalities, returns to this part of history, and questions in the light of current events, creation and life in exile.
"Births of Exile", "Walking to Live", "Landscapes of Exile" and "The Crossing" are the four major themes developed within this set of twenty-five exhibitions.
Exiles themselves, from families or exiled peoples, or witnesses of this history, the artists participating in this programme consider departure, displacement, uprooting and re-integration, as well as the unexpected human and cultural combinations born of the encounter between the migrant and the host. Thus, these works with political resonance, are anchored in the history of a country, a place, and in a universal human reality.
The stories related to the Retirada are all the more vivid in the department of the Tarn-et-Garonne. The fact that it became a hub for Spanish republican exile, with the presence of the 'Camp of Judes' where from 1939, 16000 Spanish refugees were held, had a huge impact on the municipality of Septfonds. It has upheld its memory and conserved paintings created either at the site or just after the release of the internees.
Not far from here, in Caylus, several sites host exhibitions revealing contemporary stories of exile mixing poetry, song, photography, film and installation.