Rima Abdul-Malak, a former cultural adviser to French President Emmanuel Macron, has been named France’s new culture minister following a cabinet reshuffle.
Abdul-Malak, 43, joins the government of new Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne, France’s second female prime minister after Edith Cresson in the early 1990s. Macron formed his new government last week, following his re-election in April for a second presidential term.
Abdul-Malak, a specialist in the performing arts, replaces former culture minister Roselyne Bachelot. Yesterday she attended the 75th edition of the Cannes Film Festival and said her challenge is to ‘bring a new generation to the cinema’, following a recent survey that found nearly half of the French population go to the cinema less often. cinema since the pandemic.
Born in Beirut, Abdul Malak has dual Franco-Lebanese nationality. His family left Lebanon during the Lebanese Civil War and settled in Lyon. After studying development and international cooperation at the Sorbonne, she worked for two charities: Culture and Free Thought (affiliated with the Catholic Committee against Hunger and for Development) in the occupied territories Palestinian Territories, and Clowns Without Borderss, a association that supports victims of humanitarian crises through the performing arts.
Following, Abdul Malak work at the cultural service of the former mayor of Paris Bertrand Delanoë before becoming a cultural attaché to Consulate from France to New York, from 2014 to 2018. In 2019, she became cultural adviser to Macron. She starts his new job aa difficult period, given France cultural sector has been deeply affected by the pandemic.
Parisian galleries have welcomed Abdul-Malak’s appointment positively. “This is very good news for galleries”, Marion Papillon, president of the Commission Professional of Galleries stinger (ACGP), told Artnet News. “Rima not only knows our sector well, but also comes to head a ministry already knowing his strengths, weaknesses and challenges. I hope that we can work together concretely to strengthen the place of the visual arts.”
Companion gallery owner Georges-Philippe Vallois recalls having been in contact with Abdul Malak when, as then president of the CPGA, he contacted the French consul in New York to help promote the country’s art scene. “Rima was my main contact,” notes Vallois, describing her as “available, committed but also very professional. We created [an artist’s] grant and encourage an artist residency as well as organize the loan of works hung on the walls of the consulate for more than a year.
Vallois later met Abdul-Malak in his role as Advisor to Macron. Reflecting on the “continuity” of his roles, he added: “After so many ministers who seemed to be parachuted into the unknown, we finally have an informed opinion, voluntary interlocutor, a woman for whom culture is not a simple function but a vocation. I think that, given the means, Rima is capable of convey the major importance of the ministry.”
Meanwhile, gallery owner Nathalie Obadia—who also crossed paths with Abdul-Malak during his time At New York-hopes that Abdul-Malak will channel the influence of culture into international relations. “His stay in the United States, where she appeared dynamism and inventiveness in terms of projects by French artists, allowed him to acquire knowledge of ‘smany times peur’ issues“said Obadia. “Then, as Macron’s cultural adviser, she showed determination to save the cultural sector weakened during the restrictions linked to Covid-19. She will bring a new look to contemporary art because she is young and knows the cultural and experimental actors.
Gallery owner Kamel Mennour, who has known Abdul-Malak for 15 years, echoes these feelings: “She has a great knowledge of cultural issues, a great capacity for work, and loves culture and artists.
For the French artist ORLAN, who claims to have met Abdul Malak during an opening at the Center Pompidou, the fact that Abdul-Malak is a woman is also significant. “I’m happy that it’s a woman, because I know that she will listen to women artists, both living and emerging treasures, and that she will know install parity in all areas of art, whether for public commissions, exhibitions or juries,” said ORLAN.
If there is a consensus of enthusiasm about the nomination of Abdul-Malak, according to conservative Nicolas Borriaud, her success will depend on how she populates her official ranks. He felt: “She will have to build an efficient cabinet, endowed with real expertise and pursue a real political ambition beyond the eternal ‘democratization of culture’.”
Follow Artnet News on Facebook:
Want to stay one step ahead of the art world? Subscribe to our newsletter to receive breaking news, revealing interviews and incisive reviews that move the conversation forward.