Interviewed and transcribed by Ben Dahan
Cover photo by Utopiart
In the two days leading up to Campaign Week, several reporters from the Sundial Press News team interviewed members of all seven campaigning lists. These interviews lasted about 45 minutes each, list members had not seen the questions beforehand and were given five minutes to discuss before answering. For the first four question they were given five minutes to respond and for the last question they were given two minutes. The journalists conducting these interviews were surveilled by a member of the Campaign Committee, and were under oath to keep all information secret until the release of the articles. Finally, these interviews were recorded and then transcribed, everything written below was said by the members of the lists.
Disclaimer: This interview was edited for clarity and concision.
President: Mohammed Chaia, French, Euraf
Vice president: Emma Lezier, French, Euram
List name: Utopiart
Cristina Piliouni, Greek, Euram
André-Yvan Ngapanoun Toukem, Cameroonian, Euraf
Question 1: Why is your list running?
Cristina Piliouni (CP): We are a true counter list. We have been campaigning for about a month and 8 days, we did the math a couple of days ago. I think when you are a counter list and you don’t have that many BDA babies or people who were in the exec beforehand, you don’t get the benefit of having the obvious artists on campus. So I think when drafting and trying to find people to be on the BDA list, we truly found our voice and started to understand exactly why we were listing because we had to find the hidden artists… I think that’s particularly interesting, when you have people like Nathan, for example, who is a Euraf boy, he plays the piano in Elefunk. Not a very obvious choice, but somebody who just happens to be one of most brilliant heads of coordination, and the most brilliant artists. We have people from all backgrounds, and most importantly people who dabble in all of the arts…The point we’re trying to make is that its a very multidisciplinary campaign, everybody is involved in everything. Everybody is very multitalented.
…By understanding our target audience, we were able to bring you a much more tailored version of what art can be on campus. We can make a lot of promises about what we want, but if we don’t understand the people that we are catering to – which are very different types of people – we can’t potentially have a proper thing, something very different to bring….We’re trying to make art much easier for most people, but also in the more practical elements which we’re going to analyze in the rest of the interview, we have [actual] mechanisms for how we’re going to do that.
In terms of music lessons, for example. We thought…we could have a accredited music lessons, because some felt there was a need for that….Having had a year to mature and understand how this school works, by having 3 babies on this list that do have quite a bit of insight, having a healthy relationship with the other list, in the future we can bring our original ideas which are tinged by the fact that we are the outsiders and not the obvious solutions, and actually work with the exec people and the people who do have the experience, to bring something new on campus. With us, you get sort of the best of both worlds. You get both the outsiders and the insiders. WIth them, you get something that is more one-faceted rather than multi-faceted. We can work with them, they can’t really work with us. So I guess, give us a chance on that.
Question 2: What do you want students to know about you?
CP: We’ve been hinting at it in the first question, which I wanted to be more of an introduction, we’ve really sat down thought very hard of the types of people we have on campus, and the types of people that we are, and we came up of four different types. The first is the insider, the second type is the outsider, the third type is the professional, and the fourth type is the hidden.
…The insiders are the association members. I think something we need the association members to know is that the BDA cannot exist without them, and I don’t think they get nearly as much exposure as they should be on campus. The BDA exists inherently because associations exist and because they’re the ones bringing sort of the life of the campus. The Theatre pole isn’t much without Drama Thalia and the Dance pole isn’t much without Movement 51 and Afroyalty and all of these associations….The BDA and the associations should not be mutually exclusive. So we’re very, very proud, we’re more than proud, to have a lot of members of associations on our team who can bring that voice in… So we have from André and Nathan, who are from Elefunk, we have Naila, who’s actually a 2A hidden as a 1A in a sense since she’s redoing her program, who is the captain of Afroyalty and really understands a lot of the problems these associations are facing with expression issues.
…The second part is the outsiders, which I think is most people on campus who aren’t necessarily as directly involved in art. We want to make art more accessible to you, but I know that accessible sounds like an intimidating word, a bit of a big word that doesn’t say much, so we want to make art the least amount of work possible for you, because we understand that otherwise you’re not going to involve yourself….I think that it’s important to show you that Reims is a city with a hidden artistic scene that shouldn’t be difficult for you to get into. And to give you a very smooth transition. For that… economics kid who wants to be, I don’t know, a statistician, who doesn’t particularly care about Margaret Atwood and what she has written – we want to make it easy for you to get into her work and to add art into your life. That’s the heart of our campaign with Utopiart, is to bring the idealized and best version of art on campus.
The third person, which I think is a bit of the exception, is the professional. I think there’s a big community of people on campus who are looking at art as a professional outlet, as something that they want to do and we recognize you….What we want to show you is that Sciences Po can actually be a really important tool to your artistic arsenal, it can be something that you can use in your future, and it can be something that makes it easier for you to do that…
…And the last one is the hidden. People who, for a multitude of reasons, don’t necessarily have a platform. So that is either because people feel a little intimidated to showcase their artwork, there are so many people who are writing, brilliant writers and poets and whatever, who are too embarrassed to showcase their work because they are intimidated by the BDA people… We want to give those people, again, a platform to express themselves without the fear of showcasing their name…. We also want people who might just not want to be in an association, you know, that’s not their thing, to give them more opportunities around Reims to express themselves and showcase their classmates their talents. There are a lot of talented people.
Question 3: What do you intend to change, if you were to succeed in the elections?
Emma Lezier (EL): When we decided what we were going to change next year, we just took back the four types of people and we thought about they would want us to do. So, for the outsiders, for example, we decided to gather more partnerships to make the art cheaper, because art is very expensive, to go to the theater or to go to the manege. And this year we only had few less expensive plays, but we want more. We want to contact galleries, we want to bring actually art in Reims. There’s street art, there’s a big community of street art in Reims, we want to bring that to the outsiders. For the insiders, we decided to create a general assembly where each member of the exec of each artistic association will have a voice. With that we aim that each month we will meet each other and discuss the budget for everybody, some event some associations want to do but don’t have the money or the materials. We really want them to have a voice and to express what they want to do…
CP: But also understand how the BDA works.
EL: Yes, because it is a big, crumbly thing that not everybody understands. For the hidden, we want them to, as Christina said, to have a platform. It can be a google form were they can post their art anonymously, or not. And we can organize exhibitions for everybody so that people will have the satisfaction to show their art, because it is very different when you do art for yourself and art to show…The last thing for the professional, we really want to bring professionals on campus. From masterclasses, for example, to practical workshops, to networking [events], because it is very important in art, to have contacts. To know people to send your script to, for example, if you are a screenwriter. We really want to bring art for all those people, all the four characters we’ve showed you before, I think it’s the most important thing we intend to change.
Question 4: What are some events you want to highlight that your list will offer this week?
EL: The first event we want to highlight is the Cafe des Artistes. It will be all day long, people can come and discuss with other artists, because as Christina said, we don’t know really who are the artists on campus. There’s lots of people with really good talent, and we don’t know them. This event aims at showing people that they are not alone in their talent and that they can meet people, and discuss art and sing together and being chill and casual and at the same time meet people who do art just like them. I don’t know, maybe some student initiative will come up. It’s really the aim of this event, a network of artists in the middle of campus.
CP: With really good coffee and cookies!
EL: Yes! The second one is the Palais du Tau. We are doing a party at the Palais du Tau. It’s maybe a more chic and official party, but its to counterbalance our afternoon Write and Graff on the first Saturday. The “Tag and Ice Blocking” part is a bit focused on street art while in the Palais du Tau we will have photographer… We will have the musicians on campus. We won’t have the group, the Chill Beans or the Elefunk, even individually. We really want to have all the musicians that are playing music. We will release a google form so that everybody can sign up and will pick maybe a few musicians and they will create a band, just for that night. It would be cool to create a band for one night, probably with people who don’t know each other and [ have] never played together. It could be cool with a little cocktail.
The third [event] is the escape room. By that, we aim at showing people that they can free themselves for art, because sometimes we are very constrained with the different art. You want to do something, and you have an idea of art, but you don’t know how to reach that, so it’s a metaphor to show that you can free yourself and be what you want to be and be as creative as you want, and that you can do anything actually.
The first event is the Five Dances workshop, it’s a workshop with the five types of dance and we will teach one minute routine for each dance and at the end you can just do a freestyle and do whatever you want. Even if you don’t know how to dance, you can just like put your hands up. Its to free yourself also and to show the diversity of art, how everything is different and how you can just do whatever you want, and that dance is not just Afroyalty and Movement 51, it’s more than that…
And the last one is the Olympic Games. It’s a party on the first Saturday, for the BDA it’s mostly to show the cultural aspects of the BDA, it’s not just about art, it’s about how can we mix culture together. How we can show the diversity of our campus.
Question 5: One last thing?
André-Yvan Ngapanoun Toukem: One last thing: fun. Because as Emma and Christine said, we were individuals and then [now] we are a team. Today, when I woke up, I first looked at my phone, and then I want to see what was posted on the group, because there are so many jokes and everything… When you look at me, I’m the one who’s always joking, but I didn’t think that even Christina and Emma and everybody could be as funny as me. And I think it is really important, we are having a lot of fun doing our work. It’s true that sometimes it’s difficult, because we start cracking jokes and jokes and jokes and jokes, and we stop working and its insane. But, it’s really the most important: fun.
But also, inclusiveness. Sometimes, especially in the Euraf program, people used to say we don’t have many things that we want, we don’t have enough enough enough enough. And I’m not always saying that, but I want people to stop talking and talking and talking, and that’s why we want the BDA to express themselves. We won’t do things for people anymore, they will come and they will do what they want to do. And I think it is the best way to be as inclusive as possible.