A festival for sound and image enthusiast
The Maintenant festival was created in 2001. It first began as a single evening of electronic music at the Tambour, the auditorium at the university’s Villejean campus, an event created by students from Rennes 2 as part of the Trans Musicales electronic music festival. “At the time, electronic music was mainly played at raves,” says Cyril Guillory, member of the Maintenant coordination team. “The aim of this evening was to make electronic music more spectacular, using musicians, video projection, etc.”
Since then, the “laboratory” concept has really grown, as have the students, but the festival has remained true to this idea of discovering, experimenting, and juxtaposing music and new technologies.
“The idea of the festival is to show how artists and musicians use new technologies to create innovative projects,” explains Cyril. “Each project is an opportunity to show today’s creativity, hence the name Maintenant [meaning “now” in French].”
Today, the festival has grown to become a melting pot of electronic and contemporary music, visual arts and innovation, with this 16th edition taking place across 25 venues and involving over 100 performers, artists and speakers invited to Rennes between 7 and 16 October. With a leitmotif applied in the choice of artists – an intentional poetic dimension to offer the public original experiences.
It is this poetic dimension sought by the festival team that constitutes the common thread connecting each and every performance, concert and work.
Original poetic experiences
Each year, the Maintenant festival offers original experiences, some with an intimate atmosphere while others are on a much more spectacular scale. The 16th edition will kick off with the “Intrude” installation: five giant rabbits created by Australian Amanda Parer. These gigantic illuminated animals sit innocently on the Mail François Mitterrand. In previous years, other appearances and poetic moments have also left their mark. In 2015, Canadians Caitlind r.c. Brown and Wayne Garrett captivated the public in Place Hoche with their “Cloud” sculpture and its 6,000 light bulbs.
In 2010, the beautiful Saint-Georges swimming pool, later listed as a historic monument, was the setting for a unique projection. 150 people dived into the water to watch the video of Herman Kolgen’s “Inject” project: a true technical feat with video projectors suspended above the water and a giant screen in the middle of the pool.
The following year in 2011, Robert Henke set up his “Atom” project in the Salle de la Cité, which involved around 60 helium balloons attached to mechanical axes to create a choreography of illuminated balloons.
In addition to this year’s giant rabbits, other experiences are sure to get you talking, including the monumental creation from Yasuaki Onishi, a reverse landscape to be explore at the Champs Libres. There are also many other works to discover, such as those on display at the Théâtre du Vieux Saint-Etienne. “We wanted to draw in the public to try some original experiences,” affirms Cyril Guillory. “Parsec, you have see it at least once. Love it or hate it, no one is left indifferent by this installation.”
A city circuit and 10 days of discoveries
Be curious – this is unquestionably the best advice for anyone going to the Maintenant festival. Each project is a gateway to a city circuit that you can complete, even if you know nothing about the artists exhibiting. The starting point is the Mail François Mitterrand, where tours take place at 6pm every day with guides stationed just beside the giant rabbits.
Another point of reference is the Théâtre du Vieux-Saint-Etienne which has become the new Festival headquarters, taking over from the Salle de la Cité. A venue from which you can easily reach the other exhibition sites, located in the area. It’s also the setting for the “ambiances électroniques”, electro music events held every evening, showcasing musicians and groups from Rennes through concerts, workshops and conferences.