The curator of the exhibition talks to us about SPOT24. François Gautret is the founder of Rstyle, an organization that promotes all forms of urban culture and organizes a number of key events: Urban Film Festival, Battle IMA, Ice Dance ... Rstyle has also assembled a cultural collection that is unique in France: more than 6,000 videos, audio recordings and written works about urban cultures and sports.
François Gautret was also artistic director and curator of the exhibition Hip-Hop 360 at the Philharmonie de Paris in 2022.
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Generally speaking, what they have in common is the street. Street expression is their common denominator. The movement is a positive one, in which surpassing oneself and artistic challenges are essential values. Originally, these hip hop values were used to counteract the violence in the Bronx.
Other disciplines like skateboarding or BMX, also started and developed in the street which in time has led to new areas to play these sports in the city.
To go back to the origins of these disciplines, hip-hop comes to us from the Bronx in New York, while urban board sports came more from California, from Venice Beach. Roller skating and skateboarding started out as beachside activities, but they are all practised outdoors. They were often underground movements, on the fringes of society. Now they are an integral part of our culture and attract wide media attention.
Like, for example,*** Hip-Hop 360*** at the Philharmonie de Paris, last year, which I curated, and the Opéra de Paris which is opening up to hip hop dancing. And now today, these disciplines are sanctioned at the Olympic Games! Genres meet and merge.
They are important because they originated in France, mostly in the north-east of Paris, on waste ground, in a very spontaneous way. Today, these urban cultures are influencing fashion as well as sport, advertising, design … It is this richness and this diversity that will be the focus of the exhibition SPOT24.
They know each other but they don’t necessarily, for example, listen to the same music. Breaking is based on breakbeat rhythms, which are considered to be the start of electro music. Arthur Baker and Afrika Bambaataa are pioneers of this hip hop music, but they are also considered as the fathers of the electro movement. When you start delving into history and archives, you realise that everything is linked, and that's what SPOT24 is all about: throwing light on the connections and origins of these movements.
The exhibition SPOT24 will not be a so-called classic exhibition but an immersive installation. Content from the collections of the Olympic Museum in Lausanne, as well as original works, will be on display.
Through works, original creations, objects, and archives, I wanted to convey this collective desire to tell the story of these disciplines, and also to connect with what is being done today. The complementary aspect of our association with the Olympic Museum in Lausanne is the history of these disciplines. We will be looking at the underground movement and their entry into the Olympic and Paralympic Games.
There will be a designated space for each Olympic sports discipline, and, in the nave, visitors will discover urban sports presented in an original way. An area dedicated to gaming, with arcade games from the 80s, video games that focus on urban sports, such as B-Boy with hip hop dancers, or Tony Hawk, which has been a huge success. We realise how video games have been a key element in the development of these disciplines.
We'll also be exploring some lesser-known disciplines, such as Litefeet dance and the subway bars version of pole dance. A New York subway carriage is being recreated and athletes will be invited to stage competitions in this setting.
The idea was to find a general, unifying name embracing all these disciplines, and the word spot can be found everywhere. You look for a spot to do breaking, a spot to BMX, you go to a spot at Trocadero ... It's all part of the urban language, in France and abroad. We can be proud: SPOT24 is the only Olympic exhibition in France! But it’s more than an exhibition, it's a place where people can meet and exchange ideas with different communities and the general public.
SPOT24, the Olympic Exhibition, sport and urban cultures