Paris, Gare du Nord…. where hundreds of thousands of travelers cross each other every day…tourists, workers, from Paris but more often from the suburbs. In 2015, a handful of them, students and young workers, decided to organize an artistic exhibition. Inviting street artists and muralists to cover several walls of the train station, the exhibition, supported by Gares & Connexions, a subsidiary of the French transportation company SNCF, will last 55 days and will be a fantastic success. The friends behind the initiative then decide to create a collective, Quai 36, as a reference to the location of their first project.
Quai 36 is now a group of more than 80 artists and carries out numerous urban projects. Their motivation is obviously esthetic but there is more to it. They also want us to question this landscape which might be a little too grey, and where we walk without even observing what surrounds us. Art becomes a salutary questioning. It’s a time to turn to each other and strengthen relationships. In December 2017, the Islam Culture Institute inaugurated a monumental mural from Tarek Benaoum, project which was supported by Quai 36 and Fraternite Generale (an association that pushes for more brotherhood between people).
Beyond basing their work on what already exists, Quai 36 invites us to think about what the city of tomorrow could be. Thanks to a partnership with architects from the construction company Bouygues Constructions, urban artists have been allowed to express their talent on new buildings and construction sites. A way to soften the nuisances linked to the new constructions while inviting neighbors to be part of the project.
Their primary objective is to bring art back to the street. The popular dimension is omnipresent, and Quai 36 always make sure to have cultural mediation on site. New projects are flourishing. The next one is the square of the train station in Versailles, in partnership with Nexity. Two artists, Waone and Fikos, will work on a 120-meters fence, with a tribute to the 16th century engraving artwork.