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Sunday, September 23, 2012

Double Tour

Tournicoton, the French art Gallery on sim Metaversel, is closing this week, closing its doors for good. It's just too expensive, says Mariaka Nishi, who cofounded the artistic venue back in 2007 alongside her RL partner, Naastik Rau. To mark the end of an era, and to let people know that she's still fervently involved in VW art, she has organized one last show, Welcoming Woman, set for this Tuesday evening, French time (that's 12.30 SLT on September 25th). It's going to be a double event, held in Voice, held on both SL and Francogrid - the sims have the same name, Metaversel. Here's Mariaka, FG version, busy preparing the Francogrid side of the double show.
Why this departure from Second Life? It's just too expensive, in that it's about 290 euros a month to run a sim, so that even with a bit of help from others, it's just not worth it, especially as now they get less and less use out of it, as they spend more and more time on the beautiful, stable, and vibrant Francogrid. She has also allowed her son Louka free range, on an adjoining sim,
Metaversel Junior. Imagine being able to afford to give your kid a whole sim to play with.


If you've never been to FG, you have to try it, the people there are classy, intelligent and unfailingly helpful. Oo la la. (Already got an opensim avie, but don't know how to get to Francogrid? Check out this page.)
Mariaka's SL experience has been one of collaboration, and she's clearly a very community-minded person. Their first show was  a multi-handed show called Annelies in Wonderland/ Real Virtuality; the second, Quantum Man, crystallized the general concept of truth through fusion that has been at the heart of Tournicoton. It's been a haven for many, a launching pad for a few, and its loss will be felt.
The acronym LEA is always wheeled out when there's talk of artists leaving SL, like it's the cure for all uncomfortable sim-ptoms.
Mariaka Nishi: I expect there are artists who have benefited. but not me. I am aware it exists, but nothing more, I do not know if the LEA really helps artists. I feel that LL lets many content creators leave regions by their lack of power to continue funding. In any case, I've never felt helped by LL.
Capitalists have a word for that: laissez-faire, I believe. It's been a blast, a source of intense pleasure and intense work, to run the gallery, to put on shows, and generally being involved in the Second Life art scene.
Mariaka Nishi: Exhibiting in virtual worlds is, above all, a personal freedom. For the first time, I longer needed to pay attention to what contemporary art stated, I could freely choose how I was going to develop an exhibition and its content, etc. It was a huge release, and I quickly realized that it led to real communication and feedback with the public. I spent a lot of time looking at shows but especially talking, and exchanging views. A virtual gallery allows both physical and financial freedom of design and construction impossible in RL, and you get worldwide exposure It's a unique and unforgettable experience.
Mariaka Nishi: I joined Francogrid at the end of last year, at the request of Lorenzo Soccavo, an SL contact, via the Francophone Library, who had seen my work.  I got involved with his MetaLectures exhibition / conference in February 2012.  I liked the fact that it's a smaller, Francophone grid . I would not have done before, but when it was done, I was ready to give up the grandiosity of SL for more understated performances working with a different team of project leaders, rather than artists. FG is an evolving grid and it is managed by a French group, not an American company. I feel a sense of true partnership with the grid owners, which is absolutely not the case with SL and LL. I do not mean to be an artist or writer FG, any more than I have wanted to be with SL. My virtual projects have to find resonance in the real world, and I find myself increasingly wanting to develop ideas in RL - in fact, we're working on publishing a book based on my latest (and last SL show at Tournicoton). It's called Welcoming Woman, and is about welcoming children into the world. We hope it will come out in October.

It's a very personal exhibition; some might say a little too near the knuckle in the whole "I don't want potentially freaky strangers ogling my child at any cost" front. If SL is synonymous for self-indulgence disguised as self expression, it partly comes under that heading too, perhaps; the skybox with its slightly irridescent walls has the wicked look of one of those flip-open photo wallets that coworkers, lurking by the watercooler, are liable to pull out, should the phrase 'how are the kids?' careless cross your lips.
Tournicoton may be done for, but that doesn't mean Mariaka will never be back in SL. She still has dozens of friends and colleagues here; a good friend, Yann Minh, still runs a sim here, on which possible future collaborations may take place. Her list of 'favourite artists and influences' is long and varied, all the way from the obligatory nod to Bryn Oh, through such names of note as the wonderful Moya, Artistide Despres, Frao Ra, and Sabine Stonebender, and Vroum Short, whose fantastic Planet Vegetal is dreamily captured here in her mini gallery on Metaversel.
There is also much praise for Typote Beck, whose metaversel gallery is shown below.
Mariaka Nishi: I love his work and his being. We don't have a lot of visible stuff to show from our collaboration, but we had a lot of really good conversations.
 She recalls the now departed  Mitou Waco, not strictly a virtual creator, but a lot of fun to be with, and the ever-present Anathaniel Gausman, who was not an 'artist' when they met, but thanks to the fellowship of Second Life, got involved and has become an established artist. Good photographic eye, that's for sure.
She is also full of praise for the folks at the Bibliotheque Francophone du Metavers, for their professionalism and friendship. Like all of us, she's experienced that quicksilver phenomenon of virtual lives touching - some have become firm friends from a distance, some have become real world contacts, while others have disappeared just as they came. Of these last, perhaps her biggest regret from an artistic point of view is Nessy Lupino, who had Fond du Lac in SL, and never quite recovered from its loss when the sim went dark. She was present for a short time in Francogrid, but has since disappeared even from there.

It's quite clear that whatever the future brings, Mariaka, her art and her expression, will not be disappearing any time soon. Make a point of visiting her in Francogrid, and you will certainly not be disappointed.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Try - www.francogrid.org and you can visite new metaversel sim is free and open for all. see you inworld