The 2017 iteration of the Festival de Marseille, with its dual sub-themes of “Focus Afrique” and “Focus Marseilles”, produced a space of being-in-common in response to the divided political climate of France. It encouraged a rethinking of citizenship and nationhood in terms of an inoperative community, rather than a center-periphery dualism. For three weeks, the festival's performers danced, acted, and embodied their identities as a reminder that (the identity of social) space is constantly re-produced and re-inscribed with new meaning. Stemming from a larger ethnographic study that investigates the political potential of the festival as an intervention into fraught immigration policies of integration particular to France, this essay reimagines the Festival de Marseille—danse et arts multiples 2017 as a successful production of space for rehearsing an inoperative community in Europe’s most diverse city, as it contextualizes place, body, event, and the commons at the site of the festival. Located at the periphery of Europe, the Mediterranean, and North Africa, Marseille lives as a city on the edge, a geographic point that decenters the border of French national identity. Yet through its temporary occupation of the city, the festival crossed spatial, aesthetic, and thematic divisions of the center and periphery through its installation.
Anna Jayne Kimmel is a second year PhD student in Performance Studies pursuing a minor in Anthropology and graduate certificate in African Studies, with an emphasis in dance, memory, and public performance as politics. Her current research intersects: race, national identity, and post-colonialism through performance. As a dancer, Kimmel has performed the works of: Ohad Naharin, Trisha Brown, John Jaspers, Francesca Harper, Rebecca Lazier, Olivier Tarpaga, Marjani Forte, Susan Marshall, Loni Landon, and Christopher Ralph, amongst others. She holds an AB from Princeton University in French Studies with certificates in African Studies and Dance, and serves on the Future Advisory Board to Performance Studies international.