Point Éphémère: Cutting-Edge Culture

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A former cargo warehouse situated along the banks of the Canal St. Martin houses Point Éphémère, a unique cultural center and community meeting place named for its own impermanence. It’s the latest project of Christophe Pasquet and Frederique Magal, founders of Usines Éphémères, a Parisian organization that recycles unused industrial buildings into dynamic temporary art spaces.

The group got its start in 1987 when Pasquet transformed a dilapidated factory in the 19th Arrondissement into an artistic center; it contained studios for visual artists, musicians, and dancers and also hosted exhibitions and parties. Despite being a rousing success, the center was forced to close two years later when the factory was scheduled for demolition. After that, Magal explains, “cities and private owners asked us to do the same thing in different places–hospitals, factories, and military barracks–and always for a temporary term.”

Point Éphémère is the group’s 13th such project and has quickly become a hub of bohemian creativity in Paris. The multi-use venue accommodates working artists of all sorts. It rents rehearsal space to musicians, offers dance classes (modern and African) in its studio, and schedules frequent artistic workshops and debates. As a gallery, Point Éphémère also commissions established visual artists to display at the space; recent exhibitions included abstract expressionist Eugénie Goldschmeding and whimsical pop artist Suzanne Déry. And, with its bustling restaurant and bar, top-notch DJ nights, and a concert schedule comprising indie-rock, electro, and experimental sounds, Point Éphémère has become one of Paris’ most sought-after clubs for fans of the avant-garde. Magal says without hesitation that the venue’s finest show thus far was an impromptu Sonic Youth performance in 2006, but many current greats have played there, including psych-pummelers Comets on Fire and avant-popsters Deerhoof and The Blow.

More than anything, Point Éphémère is about community–the antiquated notion that folks should have a place to share thoughts on the making of art: “The transmission of ideas is the basis of this place,” echoes Magal. Nearing the end of its predetermined five-year run, the venue will likely shut down in 2009, but Parisians should keep their eyes peeled for a similar space to spring up shortly thereafter.”