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Point Ephémère on Canal St Martin

-2Text and image by Will Best

If you allow yourself to meander down the Canal St Martin, you’ll stumble upon the industrial outer body of artistic haven Point Ephémère.  Once a factory, Point Ephémère now buzzes to a bohemian vibe thanks to the foresight and community based initiative from Usines Ephémère, the non-profit organisation overseeing the goings-on. The space includes 5 music studios, one dance studio, a fabric workshop, a multimedia platform and four visual art studios for artistic residence activities.  Professional and amateur artists, dancers, musicians or even large installation specialists are invited to apply for in-house residencies of up to six months, where hard to acquire materials and specialist tools are at hand to render the careful process of developing an oeuvre

It’s a popular and friendly hang out, a classic combination of location, free admission and a reasonably priced bar with outside seating, so it's not hard to see why. There’s even a vintage, graffiti clad photo machine which, for €2, will snapshot your afternoon in black and white.

As you enter, you'll see a huge assortment of graphically vibrant what’s-on flyers and, set slightly further back, a modest sized performance area. Pockets now stuffed with leaflets, perch by the bar, at the head of the room. The bar staff are welcoming, and the selection of beer, wine and hot food is ample, after all, most people come here for the art, not gastronomy.

The exhibition space is a sharp melange of the industrial past and creative present, punctuated by a concrete pillar, wrought iron staircase and piercing architectural lines. White walls, open space and great lighting capturing with the natural glow spilling through the huge glass fronting ensure that any installation is shown to it's best.

If music’s more your thing, then hidden inside the opposite end of the building lies the intimate concert space.  You, along with 299 others, might just think that you’re in touching distance of the Artist from any point in the room, such is the closeness of your surroundings. Add into the mix a line-up of internationally recognized musicians, and you’re sure to be in for a good night.

Perhaps the only let-down of the Point Ephémère is its limited scale. It's moreish, so if you’re not there specifically for a gig or a friendly rendezvous with somebody, you might want to see more ‘art’ than is offered by the espace d’exposition. However, as an all round experience - and for a lazy couple of hours by the canal - it's a perfect way to spend an afternoon.

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