November-December 2014 … The Global Online Magazine of Arts, Information & Entertainment … Volume 10, Number 6
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Category — On Location/France

On Location/France

Woman Informing Herself


An Interview

with Valentin Magaro

Digital & Analogue Explorations

by Jean-Paul Gavard-Perret 

Valentin Magaro fills up sketchbook after sketchbook, and many days he lets himself drift almost on automatic pilot guided by the image banks in his mind. He makes his compositions rapidly. They are inexhaustible exploratory pathways, sometimes pursued, sometimes abandoned along the way. Romanticism contrasts sharply with the thrilling styles of the scenes.  Each of his images works autonomously, but at the same time they irresistibly form a series and a narrative.


Jean-Paul Gavard-Perret: What makes you get up on morning?

Valentin Magaro: Our son. He wakes up early.

Q) What happened to your dreams as child?

A) I can’t remember.

Q) What did you give up?

A) My virginity.

Q) Where do you come from?

A) From the tummy of my mother.

Q) What is the first image you remember ?

A) The little forest in the garden of our house.

Q) And the first book ?

A) Wenn Kubaki kommt (a Swiss book for children).

Q) That is what distinguishes you from other artists?

A) An individual picture language.

Q) Where do you work and how?

A) I have a studio for my big acrylic-paintings and a little studio at home for my drawings ans my architectural models.
I create complex compositions. Every work always starts with a drawing in pencil. Later I transform the picture in many different technics.

Q) To whom do you never dare write ?

Q) What music do you listen to?

A) I listen to different kind of music. Music from the last 40 Years.

Q) What is the book you love to reread?

A) “Wahrheiten und Weisheiten”, a book from Beat Imhof with a collection of symbolic stories from the whole world.

Q) When you look yourself in a mirror who do you see?

A) A friendly young man that would help every old woman to cross the street.

Q) What city or place has value of myth for you?

A) Paris.

Q) What are the artists you feel closest?

A) Hieronymus Bosch, Willi Sitte, Hans Memling, Felix Vallotton, Michel Erhart.

Q) What film makes you cry?

A) Brokeback Mountain.

Q) What would you like to receive for your birthday?

A) That’s my secret (and the secret of my wife).

Q) What do you think of the sentence of Lacan: “Love is giving something that we don’t have to someone who does not want”?

A) Do you like Italian food?

Q)  And Woody Allen: “The answer is Yes, but what was the question?”

A) Is there life after death?


About the interviewer:

Jean-Paul Gavard-Perret contributes the On Location/France column to Ragazine. This interview was conducted in April 2014. You can read more about him in About Us.

August 29, 2014   Comments Off on On Location/France

REPORT: European Parliament 2014


The Hemicycle meeting hall for Parliament at headquarters in Strasbourg.

The Final Session

of the European Parliament

Before Elections

News & Photos from the Chamber
by Miklós Horváth

Between 14 and 17 April 2014 the European Parliament (EP) held its last plenary session before May’s European elections. The final parliamentary session of the 7th legislature opened with a minute’s silence marking the 20th anniversary of Rwanda’s genocide and remembering the victims who were murdered in the African country. At the very beginning of the session Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) stressed their dissatisfaction with Russia’s occupation of the Crimea. They restated that Russia’s recent annexation of the territory was against its international commitments as well as international law.

In their arguments, politicians referred to the possible breach of the 1994 Budapest Memorandum on Security Assurances by the Russian Federation as the document had been created to preserve the territorial integrity and political independence of certain countries of the Balkans, including Ukraine, against threats, and was originally signed by the USA, the UK, as well as Russia. Concerning Crimea, EP President Martin Schulz urged Russia to withdraw its troops from Ukraine and make efforts to safeguard peace in the region. Schulz evoked many resolutions which were voted by the EP in the last few months to support Ukraine in preserving its sovereignty and territorial integrity. He mentioned an EU trade agreement aiming to boost Ukraine’s economic prosperity as well as several financial aid programs. He also voiced his satisfaction with the Ukraine government’s efforts to restore stability and expressed his hope that Ukraine’s upcoming national elections would be free and fair.

On the third day of the plenary session MEPs from different political groups held a debate on Russia’s pressure on the EU’s Eastern Partnership countries and in particular the destabilization of Eastern Ukraine following the Crimean crisis. They discussed their opinions on the situation at hand and those economic sanctions they believed should be taken against Russia to slow down its endeavors to grab territories in Ukraine – the endeavor that might stem from Russia’s great power identity/hegemony and its national interests, which are all applied in conducting its foreign policy objectives in this particular geopolitical space, the so-called “near abroad”. Understanding the situation from the Russian perspective, what Russia does today is sending out a message to the West with regard to what it considers its own sphere of influence as a great power (see: Ria Laenen’s “Russia’s Vital and Exclusive National Interests in the Near Abroad”). While, on the other hand, European leaders continuously express their dissatisfaction, as they would be rather pleased to see Ukraine closer to the EU than to the Russian Federation, being convinced that European values should spread and prevail in the Eastern part of Europe, as well.

Rights & Values

After Stefan Füle’s, Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighbourhood Policy, opening speech MEPs had one to two minutes to share their opinions on the crisis in the chamber. Some paid particular attention to European values and minority rights in Ukraine while others were discussing Russia’s escalations to use of force in the past recalling the Georgian-Russian conflict in South Ossetia and Abkhazia among many other incidents. As the most proper solution to the Ukraine crisis was not found during the debate, many MEPs expressed their hope that the Geneva meeting of top diplomats on Ukraine, organized in Switzerland right after the Strasbourg plenary sitting, was able to provide better guidelines for an agreement to ease the tensions between the West and Russia.

In the EP chamber, politicians clearly demonstrated their commitments to assist Ukraine with peaceful conflict resolution and to defend human rights, the rule of law and democratic values within its territory. By doing this they undoubtedly reaffirmed the EU’s role as a normative power and a mediator in world politics. This is, of course, very necessary in a time when Europe’s legitimacy of setting regulatory standards as well as the notion of the EU as a value-based community are questioned by the resurgence of manifestations of anti-semitism, xenophobia, discrimination, racism or Euroscepticism as consequences of the economic crisis (and as recently discussed by the Secretary General of the Council of Europe in a detailed report).

Euro Par V10N3

Miklos Horvath reports on the European Parliament's 2014 session as a representative from Ragazine.CC.

European Parliament Headquarters, Strasbourg
European Parliament Headquarters, Strasbourg
Louise Weiss Building
Louise Weiss Building
Louise Weiss Building
Louise Weiss Building
Louise Weiss Building
Louise Weiss Building
Louise Weiss Building
Louise Weiss Building
Louise Weiss Building
Louise Weiss Building
Louise Weiss Building
Louise Weiss Building
Louise Weiss Building
Louise Weiss Building
Louise Weiss Building
Louise Weiss Building

Banking & Finance

The second major topic for discussion at the EP was the setting up of new regulations in the banking sector as well as the enhancement of a banking union. The parliament adopted three measures. Two were dealing with the restructuring of troubled banks requiring financial institutions to have special plans for the worst and unexpected scenarios, while the third was implemented to ensure that banks, not the taxpayers, guaranteed deposits under €100,000 in an event of the risk of failure. The third regulation, namely the deposit guarantee scheme was already in place in some way but was updated to further protect depositors and taxpayers. These measures along with other full-fledged regulations might prepare the EU to strengthen and complement the existing pillars (i.e. the single bank supervision system) of a genuine banking union in the near future.

Lessons of War

The third major issue for debate was the First World War, the lessons to be learned from the devastation and the future of Europe. The debate was opened by EP President Martin Schulz, Evangelos Venizelos, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Greece speaking on behalf of the Council of the European Union (as Greece is currently holding the Presidency of the Council of the European Union up until July 2014) and the President of the European Commission, José Manuel Barroso. After their speeches, the chairs of the major political groups in the European Parliament discussed what Europe learned or should have learned from WWI.

Many of them expressed that the member states of the EU should continue their co-operation in the future to maintain peace and competitiveness, and to proceed towards a higher level of integration. They called for the curbing of nationalism, creating stronger integration, more common policies and support for the community-based interest – as only a closely integrated community could assume and exercise serious power on the international stage in the 21st century. Contrary to these aspirations, MEPs like Nigel Farage (co-chair of EFD) and Daniël van der Stoep (NI) stressed their convictions that citizens would need stronger nation states rather than a powerful European Union.

Human Rights, Environment

During the plenary, the EP passed three resolutions concerning human rights violations in North Korea, Pakistan and Syria to support the UN to set up special structures for investigation. It decided that certain harmful psychoactive substances should be withdrawn from the EU market to protect the safety of citizens, particularly young people. MEPs also concluded a reform to the fisheries policy, introduced a structural change to the EU aid system to be delivered faster and effectively to disaster-stricken EU or EU candidate countries, adopted measures to stop the spread of invasive alien species and draft rules to reduce the use of the most polluting plastic bags in the community. Other regulations and draft laws concerning food and product safety, investment, environment protection, EU budget, economic development and the freedom of movement were also adopted.

The final parliamentary session was running with a packed agenda as MEPs decided on a considerably large amount of issues directly influencing the everyday life of EU citizens. Even though the EP was very active in adopting regulations in the last 5 years, this EU institution still suffers from a serious democratic deficit due to the fact that citizens are not well-informed about the content of the measures passed in the chamber on a monthly basis. The small amount of information and education provided to citizens leads to the declining of their interest in EU affairs and a low-turnout for EP elections. We might experience this again in May when European elections will take place. The next plenary sitting will be held in July in Strasbourg soon after the members of the new European Parliament have been directly elected by the citizens of the 28 member states of the EU.

From now on, the new parliament will have less MEPs in accordance with the Treaty of Lisbon than it had in the previous years. Considering the power of the EP as one of the EU’s main law-making institutions, along with the Council of the European Union, deciding over the very future of European integration; and the fact that after the 2014 EP elections the President of the European Commission will most probably be coming from the largest European political group enjoying the strongest support of citizens, two things are quite disappointing: one is the decline in participation of EU citizens in European elections [voter turnout decreased from 62% in 1979 (EU9) during the first direct elections to the EP to a record-low of 43% in 2009 (EU27) in the most recent European elections] explaining why EP elections are often characterized as second-order elections subordinate to national elections (the so-called first-order elections). The other alarming trend is the growing support of citizens for Eurosceptic parties.

About the author:

Miklós Horváth is a Master’s student at the University of Leuven (KU Leuven). He was also educated at ELTE Budapest, Tartu, Maastricht and Leiden University. He completed internships at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Hungary, Portage Rehabilitation Centre in Canada and at the European Parliament’s Directorate General for Communication. He published articles in more than six print journals ranging from literature to politics. His previous contributions to Ragazine.CC include:

Recommended Sources

Newsletter – 14-17 April 2014 – Strasbourg plenary session

Joint statement, Geneva meeting on the situation in Ukraine:

Report by the Secretary General of the Council of Europe (CoE) Thorbjørn Jagland: “Europe in biggest human rights crisis since Cold War”

Russian pressure on Eastern Partnership countries and in particular the destabilization of Eastern Ukraine, EPTV in full with English translation

100 years on from the First World War: lessons to learn and future of Europe (debate), EPTV in full with English translation

Never again? Debate to mark WW1 centenary

European Parliament elections May 2014

Insecurity, austerity and growing extremism in the EU

The 2009 Elections to the European Parliament Country Reports

Eurobarometer Report: Post-electoral survey 2009

Ria, Laenen (2012). Russia’s Vital and Exclusive National Interests in the Near Abroad, In. Maria Raquel, Freire and Roger E, Kanet (2012). Russia and its Near Neighbors. Palgrave.

Eurobarometer 76: 2011: Level of Information on European Matters: A clear Majority of Respondents still believe that they are ill-informed about European matters

Information about the European Parliament headquarters building in Strasbourg:

CaptureWikipedia diagram, click to enlarge.


April 28, 2014   Comments Off on REPORT: European Parliament 2014

On Location/France



Ellmerer 2

Barbara Ellmerer:

Letting Go

By Jean-Paul Gavard-Perret

Barbara Ellmerer is a Swiss painter and drawer, educated at the Academy of Art and Design in Zürich and at the University of Arts in Berlin. Giving access to the outlines of her imaginative space, she allows the viewer into a unique time and space arrangement. Her images (flowers for instance)  present a subtle beauty in their form. Presented in close-up, the images lack an anchoring point in terms of scale. They become metaphorical “ landscapes” that present the primal cycle and preservation of life and explore the transformative possibilities inherent in letting go. These traces have made physical an idea of duration, the cumulative trace of breath and body on tissue like accumulated light on the surface, even if our senses predetermine the physical limits and temporality of memories made from the perception of the opus.

Q: What makes you get up on morning?

A: The knowledge of  the shortness of the day, the lust to continue the work on my drawings and paintings (which is the same as the lust for life) and to explore its possibilities of energies.

Q: What happened to your dreams as a child?

A: The biggest dream was to become an artist which always meant to make a living out of it, came true. Although my parents were warning me and trying to prevent it, by not allowing me to visit an art academy.

Q: What did you give up?

A: I gave up my first true love, dissolved my engagement, left the province, went to live in the city, where I could get an art education and become a political activist.

EllmererQ: Where do you come from?

A: I was born and raised by Austrian parents in a small beautiful mountain village of the Bernese Oberland.

Q: What is the first image you remember?

A: The very first image I do remember was an impressive painting “Judith,” carrying the head of Holofernes in her hand.  It was placed about our family dining table. The painter’s name is Hans Bauer, who was my great-grandfather.

Q: That is what distinguishes you from other artists?

A: This question will have to be answered by those who look at artists from another perspective.

Q: Where do you work, and how?

A: The tension between a vivid movement and its fixation is seminal for my production. I do enjoy following the colors when they start to transform in ephemeral grounds like on ice and in water, on paper with fragile or powerful porosity.  But the work does not only take place in my atelier besides the river in Zurich city. It takes place in many other situations, while walking through the nature, listening to talks of mathematicians or physicists or during the phase of waking up from a sleep.

Q: To whom do you never dare write?

A: In times of floods of email-traffic there are no limits of writing to any person in the world, neither to get emails from anybody of the world. Nobody has to answer to anybody… just like Goethe did once to Jean Paul.

Q: What music do you listen to while working?

A: If it is quiet around me and my thoughts, I do not need any music. But when there are noises, voices or something else, which is disturbing my working processes, I turn on my music “shield,” my “cheese cover” to keep out the outer world. I prefer to listen to electronic music (Section Experimental).

Q: What is the book you love read again?

A: There is one book I love since 28 years: Clarice Lispector’s, Buch der Lüste.  I read it every two or three years. There is another book I reread in order to hopefully being able to fully understand some day: Lisa Randall’s Warped Passages, eine Reise in den extradimensionalen Raum.

Q: When you look yourself in a mirror who do you see?

A: A Woman who should find time to tweeze her eyebrows.

Q: What city or place has value of myth for you?

A: The Abyss of the nightly Sky, the Universe who promises to be several.

Q: Who are the artists to whom you feel closest?

A: Goya, Pollock, Judith Butler and other rebels.

Q: What film make you cry?

A: Stalker” by Tarkowskj, and “Sans Soleil” by Chris Marker.

Q: What would you like to receive for your birthday?

A: This year’s birthday I got a wonderful love letter, which almost cannot be topped.

Q: What do you think of the sentence of Lacan: “Love is giving something that we don’t have to someone who does not want?”

A: The so called impossible phenomena could eventually exist somewhere else.


* * * * *

Navratil install


Alexandra Navratil


Her book:

This Formless Thing, Publication for the exhibitions at Kunstmuseum Winterthur and SMBA with contributions by Esther Leslie, Natasha Ginwala, Mirjam Varadinis, Simona Ciuccio, Matthew Solomon, Jelena Rakin and Jennifer Burris and published by Roma Publications Amsterdam


With Jean-Paul Gavard-Perret 

Q: What makes you get up on morning? 

A: Looping thoughts and a certain restlessness

Q: What happened to your dreams as child?

A: I don’t remember.

Q: What did you give up?

A: Many things, and I keep giving up things all the time.

Q: Where do you come from? 

A: Zurich, but my background is quite mixed and I have lived in many places since

Q: What is the first image you remember ?

A: The icon painting that was hanging above my bed as a child, everything except the painted bodies was covered in a golden metal with debossed ornaments and sharp edges and I liked following the ornaments with my fingers.

 Navratil Book


Q: And the first book?

A: There is not one specific first book as far as I remember but many first books, books that mark a change, a shift, a discovery, a return, or a more physical change like a move to another city. A book with the technical drawings by Michelangelo, that my grandfather who was an engineer showed to me when I was very young, L’Éducation sentimentale by Flaubert, Le Grand Cahier by Agota Kristof,  Auslöschung by Thomas Bernhard, anything W.G Sebald has ever written, the writing by Enrique Vila-Matas and the writing by Michael Taussig, Esther Leslie, Keston Sutherland. I am sure I forgot quite many.

Q: That is what distinguishes you from other artists?

A: I try not to think too much about other artists and if I do then I look more for affinities than differences.

Q: Where do you work and how? 

A: I especially like thinking about my work when I just woke up as my mind is not completely present yet and the thoughts can move in a more free and unstructured way. Most of the days I go to my studio which is only a 5 minutes bicycle ride away from my house here in Amsterdam. It’s a beautiful space under a white-beamed roof and it has a shielding feeling to it. Once you close the door and start working it is even hard to go and buy some lunch. It kind of draws you in. I share it with two friends as I don’t need much space for my work, mostly I am just sitting at my desk. The reading I prefer to do at home as it is easier to concentrate.

Q: To whom do you never dare write ?

A: I always write to anyone that I am interested in.

Q: What music do you listen to?

A: I don’t like listening to music too much, just sometimes, it is a bit of a blank spot for me.

Q: What is the book you love read again?

A: I read most books I am interested in twice, sometimes immediately following the first read.

Q: When you look yourself in a mirror who do you see?

A: It depends on the day

Q: What city or place has value of myth for you?

A: All the places I have once lived in but especially New York. 


Q: What are the artists you feel closest to?

A: This changes all the time but maybe I feel closest to my artist friends who follow my work and I follow theirs.

Q: What film make you cry?

A: It depends more on my mood than on the film actually. Anything or nothing. But the film that never fails to make me cry is Au Hasard Balthazar by Robert Bresson.

Q: What would you like to receive for your birthday?

A: Artworks by friends are my favourite gifts, I have already a small collection and it is the best. And birthday cards.

Q: What do you inspire the sentence of Lacan: “Love is giving something that we don’t have to someone who does not want”?

A: I didn’t know Lacan was actually funny.

Q: And Woody Allen: “The answer is Yes but what was the question?”

A: Can you please stop making films for a while Mr. Allen?

* * * * *

About the interviewer:

Jean-Paul Gavard-Perrett writes about music and the visual arts. Born in 1947 in Chambery (France), he was a professor of communication at the Université de Savoie. He has published several essays, mainly about Samuel Beckett and painting, and short fiction, most recently “Labyrinthes,” Editions Marie Delarbre.



March 1, 2014   Comments Off on On Location/France