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Rachida Dati, a star minister at the Angoulême BD Festival

“Sorry, the entrance is blocked for 45 minutes,” explains a security agent to a woman wishing to visit the Angoulême Museum.

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Rachida Dati, a star minister at the Angoulême BD Festival

“Sorry, the entrance is blocked for 45 minutes,” explains a security agent to a woman wishing to visit the Angoulême Museum. A few moments later, shortly before 3 p.m., the small convoy of the new Minister of Culture appears on the street corner. Visiting the 51st Angoulême International Comics Festival to meet authors and publishers, Rachida Dati chose to start her program with the exhibition “Catching the race - The art of running by Lorenzo Mattotti”. At the sound of a few pans, the minister does not shy away and shakes the hands of the people who have come to greet her. A horde of journalists, photographers and videographers follow or precede her inside the building.

A few floors higher, the situation becomes complicated. Indeed, the exhibition is spread over several rooms but the circulation spaces are not adapted to the presence of clusters of reporters who are painfully trying to photograph or film Rachida Dati and Lorenzo Mattotti (who has just joined her) during their stroll . Other journalists try to get as close as possible to catch the words exchanged in whispers between the minister and the 70-year-old Italian artist, notably known for his covers of the New Yorker and his animated film The Famous Invasion bears in Sicily.

Finally, here is a little anecdote from Ms. Dati: “I run on the banks of the Seine but I find that it is not that comfortable. With cobblestones, the ground is very uneven.” The exhibition, accessible until March 10 and then scheduled to travel, is not unrelated to the capital since it is held as part of the “Cultural Olympiad”, a national program combining art and sport ahead of the Olympic and Paralympic Games in Paris. Further on, the minister and the artist, accompanied by Marguerite Demoëte, the curator of the exhibition, continue their slow progress.

Some journalists jostle, others get ahead, hoping to be well placed for the next photo or video sequence. Having a pole or zoom lens offers more chances of getting a good shot. But watch out for the works! The museum staff keeps an eye on things and asks everyone – with relative success – to carry their backpack in front of them to avoid jostling the hanging frames. Meanwhile, Rachita Dati listens to Lorenzo Mattotti's explanations, asks questions, sometimes bursts out laughing. “She noted the effect of circulation of the drawings, the frames, the compositions,” estimates Marguerite Demoëte, at the end of the tour. The fact of running herself involves her in the exhibition, which means that she will have extremely relevant questions: how do we represent the pain of running, its psychological dimension, but also the female body?

Back on the ground floor, Rachida Dati has a coffee and chats informally. She received as a gift the book Tarz, embroider in Morocco, yesterday and today, taking up the eponymous exhibition in 2022, at the same Angoulême museum. An Algerian woman wants to take her photo, the minister kindly offers to come next to her to appear in the photo. “Did you know that my mother was Algerian?” Time flies, it is time to head towards the rest of the program: visit to the “Le Nouveau Monde” space (independent comic strip players), the “Monde des Bulles” (Franco-Belgian comic book publishers and comics) and the large Canada pavilion.

Outside, as she gets back into her car, the minister experiences a new round of shouts and boos: “Indicted for corruption, ouuuh!” “I’m successful, huh?”, she jokes. Its ability to attract the sympathy of comic book creators will depend on its possible announcements in favor of the sector. Will the creation of a status of author-artists similar to that of intermittent entertainment workers, demanded by the profession, be discussed?

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