Less than two years after its inauguration, will the Montpellier Mo.Co radically change? Its initiator, Nicolas Bourriaud, seems in any case excluded from the game. On March 23, the board of directors met to decide on his successor and the future of this unique structure, which brings together the Ecole supérieure des beaux-arts, the art center La Panacea as well as the Hôtel des Beaux-Arts. collections, created in 2019.
An influential figure in contemporary art, Nicolas Bourriaud imagined the Mo.Co as an ecosystem, with the fervent support of the mayor, Philippe Saurel (2014-2020). Is he a victim of the political game today? The newly elected mayor, Michaël Delafosse (PS), has never hidden his skepticism regarding the flagship project of his predecessor. After nine months of procrastination, the dice seem to have been cast. Arrived ex aequo in front of a jury meeting on March 4, two antagonistic profiles compete for the Mo.Co: Numa Hambursin, figure of the local culture, campaign support of the current mayor, proposes a “Mo.Co 2.0”; Ashok Adicéam, with international experience, from French institutes to private foundations, a “Mo.Co & Co”. An appointment process whose citizen opposition list We are Montpellier denounces “Opacity”. “As it stands, we doubt the will of the mayor to anchor this question in the democratic debate ”, they regret.
“It is to nip in the bud one of the rare interesting public projects in France”, deplores Melik Ohanian. Celebrated across the world, the plastic artist joined the team of the art school, where he studied, as he was “Convinced by the momentum driven by Bourriaud. At the beginning, the inhabitants were resistant, they feared to see a Parisianist land. But, little by little, he was accepted. He left room for people to act locally, the sauce took. And everything remained to be invented ”.
The candidates’ projects, which have been leaking for a few days, are the subject of bitter debates. Son of the local gallery owner Hélène Trintignant, artistic director of the Helenis business foundation (leading real estate developer in the city) and close to Eric Penso, mayor of Clapiers, north of Montpellier, who became president of Mo.Co at the summer 2020, Numa Hambursin has more than one trump card up its sleeve. After having often denounced the “Complex relationship between artistic freedom and politics” who reigns in his city, he dreams today of making his mark on the tripartite structure: “The archetype of the aboveground institution”, he denounces, hammering out the shortcomings.