Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs Catherine Colonna has launched Villa Swagatam, a network of residences bringing French talent to India, visiting India for the G20 FMM. Opening the welcome initiative at a special event held at the French Institute of India (IFI) in New Delhi, Catherine said, “There is a deep friendship and mutual cultural admiration between the French and Indian people. Both are countries rich in history and very talented artists and creators. We strive to bring them together and build a community Genuine Artists.Indian partners, who will open their residences to French writers and artists all over India.»
This cultural initiative marks a new era in Indo-French cultural relations. With the launch of this program, India joins the list of international initiatives based on French residencies around the world, including Villa Albertine in the United States, Villa Kujoyama in Japan, Casa de Velázquez in Spain, or the Nouveau Grand Tour and the Villa Medicis. In Italy.
The Institut Français and Alliances Française in India have long staged residencies, including that of renowned French dancer and choreographer Amala Dianore, who gave an exceptional performance on opening night. Up-and-coming dancer Amala performed “Man Rec” (which means “Only Me”) in Wolof, the lingua franca of Senegal where Amala is from. The unique piece choreographed by Amala is a dialogue between several dance disciplines, ranging from traditional African dances to hip hop and various other forms of dance. He mixed them all together to create his own vocabulary of movement. Music was present in the background of his dance but he was free from any rhythmic constraints and there were also the occasional silent passages, just like the Merce Cunningham he had seen decades ago.
“Villa Swagatam” has collaborated with many French cultural institutions, such as residences, literary centers, art schools, theaters and festivals, as well as private foundations. A call for applications will be launched in April to welcome the first residents to India in mid-2023.
It will house sixteen residences ranging from literature to arts and crafts and performing arts, spread all over India for French residents. In the second step, ‘Swagatam Villa’ will be expanded to send Indian residents to France. Over the next ten years, this will be a new pillar for the French Institutes and the Network of French Alliances to develop their cultural programmes.
“Swagatam,” the Sanskrit equivalent of the French “Bienvenue,” reflects the desire for cooperation and exchange. This philosophy lies at the heart of the French cultural network, which aims to promote bilateral cooperation.