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‘Grand Paris’: new art complex to open in Parisian suburb

Galleries such as Air de Paris and Fabienne Leclerc will relocate to a refurbished industrial space in Romainville

The architecture firm Freaks is outfitting the Romainville compound to house five Parisian galleries as well as an artists' residency and exhibition spaces for emerging artists. Fondation Fiminco/Axelle Poisson

Five Parisian galleries are joining forces to open spaces in a new four-building arts complex in Romainville, a north-eastern suburb of Paris. The 11,000-sq m industrial venue, called Komunuma, alluding to community or commune, is designed by the French architects Freaks and is due to open in October.

Among the galleries are Air de Paris, Jocelyn Wolff, In Situ Fabienne Leclerc, Imane Farès and Sator, which will take up residence in two of the buildings; another two will house exhibition spaces for emerging artists, an artists’ residency run by Fondation Fiminco and the Jeune Création artists’ association. While Air de Paris and Fabienne Leclerc are closing their Paris spaces and will only operate from Romainville, Jocelyn Wolff, Sator and Imane Farès will maintain their existing locations in the city.

Residents were approached by Fondation Fiminco and other players in the real estate project after the mayor of Paris designated the land for cultural use. Indeed, the idea is to test out a common vision to extend culture to ‘Grand Paris’, or Greater Paris, in alignment with the City of Paris’s decade-long aim to transform the nearby suburbs. The collaboration recalls how a group of galleries—including Perrotin, Almine Rech and Air de Paris—established spaces on Rue Louise Weiss in the 13th arrondissement in 1997 in a city-sponsored initiative.

The Romainville project represents the first “collaborative alliance between public and private sectors creating a small art ecosystem,” Fondation Fiminco and the participants say in a statement.

It is not the first gallery outpost in the city’s suburbs—Thaddaeus Ropac opened a space in a former boilermaker factory in nearby Pantin in 2012 to show large-scale works. Komunuma’s plans to coordinate events with Ropac and the CNEAI, a national contemporary art centre in Pantin, include Jeunes Création holding its 70th anniversary exhibition at Ropac Pantin next July.

Additionally, a new regional art centre, Frac Île-de-France/Les Réserves, will be inaugurated at Komunuma in 2020 and other galleries are expected to move in at a later date.