Babel Mallorca is a new concept of curatorial hubs. Located in the South East of the island of Mallorca, it is operating two spaces only a few kilometers apart from each other.
The first, S'Walden, an energy self-sufficient villa within the Mondragó Natural Park, is ideal for reflection and writing. The second, S'Cala, a building located in the heart of the preserved fishing village of Cala Figuera is dedicated to exhibitions, dialogue, and transmission to the younger generations through masterclasses and coaching.
Among our first projects, we created on January 1, 2023 Refusés International, a prize aimed at making visible the various forms of censorship that are exercised around the world against contemporary art. Then, as part of the official program of the international biennale BIENALSUR, we show in S'Cala from September 18 to October 3, 2023 the international group exhibition Tourist! (Le Grand Tour), and simultaneously Few memories of things past, a monographic exhibition by Arnaud Cohen.
Between North and South, East and West, past and future, Babel Mallorca intends to be the embassy of a universe to be built, that of the "Tout-monde" dear to Édouard Glissant.
co-founder of Babel Mallorca
Drawing a new map
the inspiring vision of Simon Njami, writer, curator and the project sponsor.
Babel, as we uncover it, does not initially invite to meditation but to doubt; literally unquieteness. It is a dark, stark world, an after doomsday place in which we are left to ourselves and tormented by the essential question: what is our relationship to Creation. The journey has started. We are the ultimate witnesses, the only survivors of a world that no longer exists, in the tremor of a time that has stopped. Maps become useless; neither do compasses, nor memories. Both attracted and repulsed by this too silent space in which erratic shadows dance, this world that is imposing on us the rythm of our own hearts beats, we have, fleetingly, the vision of a fallen Eden, abandoned to itself. None of the old maps could be of any help . What is left to do? Building unspoken alliances, establishing a new map, with its borders and its gray areas, its havens of brotherhood within which we are reinventing new forms of communication despite the threatening plague and cholera outside. Africa, Europe, Asia, America don’t really matter anymore. The geographic specificities, as they disappear, offer us a metavision which itself transforms them into epiphenomena. We must create new harmonies, and this curse that the Almighty put on us to stop us from reaching the stars must be transformed into a unique opportunity to create the island Thomas More dreamed of, a utopia, that is to say, translated from the Greek, a non-place, that is to say, also, a place without overdetermination. We are here talking about heteropia and heterochrony, in other words, the gathering of the world into a forgotten polyphony. Heterotopia, as Michel Foucault developed it, focuses on the physical localisation of utopia within a given society. We shall now extend this notion to the whole planet experienced as a single, coherent entity. Among the principles set out by the philosopher, I will single out the one, which, within a heterotopia that would itself contain a heterochrony, or a break from real time, I will single out the one that is creating caesura within the same objective temporality and building multiple time-spaces. Just as libraries and museums, which, by their accumulation of objects and books of all times, form a “place of all times which itself is out of time”, for they claimed to be universal and eternal. There are also some other heterotopias, that, rather than being eternal, are recurring. Heterotopias that are, in other words, temporary: fairs or exhibitions, to name a few. Therefore we shall not work on heterotopia, which is contained in a given space. We will instead devote ourselves to the atopos, i.e. the object with no identified location. And heterology, which according to Michel de Certeau “is a discourse of the other, at the same time a discourse on the other and a discourse within which the other speaks". In that sense, it seems to me a more suited tool to reach our goal. Heterology is “an art of playing with two places”. It crafts a reversible scene where the last word does not necessarily belong to the primary subject of the discourse and where criticism does not spare the speaker, himself being hit by a ricochet. A place for experimentation, heterology bears the risk of a free speech and is a magnificent tool for trying to assess what in one place is missing in the other, as François Jullien stated.
Here is our Babel. And all it requires from us now is to be fed.
ASFI and Babel's main contemporary art goal since 2014: bring curators' independance back at the center of the game.
Because they constantly create new concepts in which they involve artists, collectors, and journalists, contemporary art curators and critics have been the main creative drivers of contemporary art since the 1970s. But there are obviously other parameters that interfere. These economic, geopolitical and ideological parameters are today all the more influencial as they are essentially globalized. The almost total freedom enjoyed by the great curators in the 70s, 80s and even 90s has fully disappeared with on one hand the rise of populists and new dictatorial regimes, and on the other hand with the creation of both global and fragmented communities usually built around means of communication aimed at targeting them as consumer groups. The ASFI Foundation, a fictional but nevertheless operational art work created by Arnaud Cohen in the 2010s, was intended to highlight these impediment mechanisms and their various origins (fiscal, entrepreneurial, technological and societal, …) through events or conferences (Centre Pompidou, Tate St Ives, etc), but also and above all through moments of conviviality and trust built on the occasion of performed symposiums (at the invitation of the biennials of Venice, Dakar, Bienalsur, Something Else Cairo, …). One of the missions of the Babel Mallorca project, hampered for a time by the corona virus, is to be the "armed wing" of ASFI for the 2020ies and beyond. Its objective is not only to build a network of friendship and mutual support for curators who are still in a position to resist (most of them can no longer do so in an open manner), but also to offer a space dedicated to help the new generations through for awareness-raising and transmission.