Sarah Fdili Alaoui is assistant professor in Interaction Design at University Paris Sud 11. She is also a media artist, a choreographer and a dancer. Sarah holds a PhD in Arts and Sciences and over 20 years of training in ballet and contemporary dance. She has been working in many European Art projects, collaborating with choreographers, visual artists, computer scientists and designers to create interactive installations, performances and tools for supporting choreography. Whenever she goes, museums are her number 1 destination.
Your secret art venue when you seek peace and quiet
I would say with no hesitation that it is the DIA:Beacon. It is a former printing factory on the banks of the Hudson River. The large space has high ceiling, brick walls and huge windows, bringing in a magical amount of light, located in the nature of upstate New York. It was reconfigured by Robert Irwin, keeping the grit of the factory. The gardens contribute to the glory of the space, they are seasonal and wild.
I went there twice, and had to drive 4h back and forth from New York City but once I got there I was immersed in peace and beauty. I love the collection at Dia:Beacon. I have seen Dan Flavin’s fluorescent light, Richard Serra’s imposing Ellipses, one of Louise Bourgeois’ spiders and some other works by Sol LeWitt, Agnes Martin, Joseph Beuys and more.
The best food experience in an art space
The café A at La maison de l’architecture in Paris is a little piece of heaven with amazing food. It is located in the ordre des Récollets, a religious franciscain convent that was established in the 17th century, turned into a hospital and then abandoned. It has underwent a restoration recently to host the maison de l’architecture and its fabulous café/restaurant. The café A has a simple but fine french menu. I love the historical space and peaceful gardens in the middle of the wildest part of Paris.
It is beautiful and surprising, which makes the food even more delicious. I have tried their spring vegetable soup and it was lovely. Usually I always order the most complex dish in the menu but lately I have appreciated effort made in simplicity. So café A is all about that!
A museum gift shop that you never leave empty handed
To be honest, I don’t usually buy at the shops of museums. But if I would have one gift shop in mind it would be the shop of the Centre Pompidou. It has an amazing collection of books. If I don’t buy any, I do however spend some time there going through the latest books, usually related to the non-permanent exhibitions.
Your museum with a wow-factor
Lately I had a real wow experience in the Fondation Louis Vuiton, mostly because of the building. It is a ship designed by Frank Gehry, a huge ship actually. It has a multitude of terraces and I got lost in them because of the complexity of the different levels. You never know what to expect there, a window, a cascade of water or a huge plant hanging from above. The museum surprised me, especially given that Paris has very few provocative buildings, everything is history and also that it is erected in the one of the most conservative areas of the city.
Please share with us a special personal memory related to a museum experience
I was born in Morocco, and moved to France about 14 years ago. Last year, I went back to my hometown, Rabat. My father invited me to visit the new Museum for Contemporary Art that was few months old. First I thought I was going to see some landscape paintings, or at most, some portrait photography because that was the kind of art I remembered from Moroccan artists.
I actually discovered some of the most creative and politically engaged artworks I have seen in a while. I was touched to tears. The artworks were mostly installations, some video and photography as well. Most importantly, they were re-appropriating some elements of our popular culture: tele novelas, popular food, school books…etc. to critique and shed a light on major issues in our society such as democracy, religion, monarchy, education, early marriage in rural areas, freedom of speech, corruption and so on. I was speechless and proud. I was surely proud of a generation of artist that emerged from adversity and that has now a space to create for us to listen. That was a powerful experience!