The Fifth Sense, Ep 6: Making Exhibitions with Rebecca Lamarche-Vadel, presented by CHANEL and i-D

There is no simple
definition for a curator. I believe that there are as
many personalities as curators. Many people say that
nowadays every individual curates, and that you curate your life, you curate your restaurants, you curate your friends. The curator has the role
of welcoming visitors, so making something
for the public. The show I’m currently
preparing is inspired by scent. Scent is very much
related to presence, and, nowadays, where
we all double ourself with a digital presence, what does it mean
to be physically here? I’m used to work with objects and now I have to invite
artists to produce what would be
an online exhibition. The idea was to build a story and imagine, or think about, what would scent say
if it had a voice? I get inspiration almost anywhere. I also find it a lot in the street, when I walk and when I think, and when I look at
the people around me. I also read a lot of material that has nothing to do with art. I read a lot of theory, philosophy and sociology, and then I look at astrophysics, from the way we grow plants to the headlines of the newspaper. I’ve got this, like, big
interest for football games, and I’m really impressed
by the power of crowds. I like to understand how do we manage,
or don’t manage, to create a collective group? Maybe next to this, like that. I think I’m
a concept-driven curator. It’s almost like
I have those questions, and they’re, like, burning desires to understand,
to explore, and then I invite
artists to, kind of, like, you know, be
my partners in crime. I think learning happens when we surround
ourselves with things, and the same thing with art. I think the theme of creativity is about engaging
in a more open way, so it’s not vertical,
it’s horizontal, where you also let people be, and bring in their strengths in their own capacity and then let it foster. I have been challenged
with the digital media, or, like, kind of
trying to understand and tune in. Like, what is digital art? Is it a form of translation that translates the physical
into virtual domain? For me, it’s really always been having that crush on talent that drove me to the arts. The physical, the virtual, the overlap are issues that I talk about with my artistic director,
Hans Ulrich Obrist each and every day. We’re both obsessed
with the way that we became a Pokémon stop this summer, for example. And that aspect enabled people to layer on their physical
and their virtual experiences in ways that drew audiences that might not otherwise come. My goal, really, is to create a very safe space
for unsafe ideas and be a very open landscape for, potentially, very
opposing views. In the arts, of course, there are so many male directors, there are so many female curators, and, whether you’re male or female, I love to work with feminists, like the men in this organisation, who believe that
a programme should have a diversity of voice and texture. So, for me, feminism isn’t
a male or female dimension, feminism is for everyone. One of the reasons I started
Arcadia Missa was out of naivety. Even though I grew up in London I didn’t really know that there were, kinda, smaller galleries. I only really know, like,
there was the Tate, and, you know, like,
all of these big institutions that weren’t necessarily speaking to me
as a young person. In art, space can be a very
unspoken, oppressive thing. Art is historically extremely
white, extremely male and institutions and the art world has built up, over
a long time, based on that. Very much, what we
were doing at the start, we were doing ’cause
we didn’t have any space to do it in, and we didn’t think
anyone really cared, and a lot of it was,
we were our own audience. So you kinda have this
teenage type of confidence, where you’re like,
‘Yeah, I’ll just do it,’ and the fact that,
then, that has grown obviously helps with being like, ‘Okay, maybe we do have
something interesting to say.’ This digital project allows something that I’ve been always interested in, which is the possibility of art
to exist somewhere else than in a museum. I invited artists who have
a very different type of work. The movie will start with Bridget Polk. She started in 2009
to do balancing rocks, and she manages,
through meditation, to put together these
impossible sculptures. So, Bridget Polk’s work is
speaking about the ephemeral, about things that can collapse. As much as, like, scent is suddenly
transporting you for vision and escaping as soon as it appears. Lasseindra Ninja is
a very important figure in the voguing scene in Paris and was somebody
extremely important to bring this sub-culture to France. And then you would discover the work of Margerite Humeau who’s been interested in the question of, when was love born? And is it possible to
reproduce attraction? All the sound has been
done by digi powder (ph), and that was very important
for me as well, to invoke music. The artists have the opportunity to play with their art in a way that they wouldn’t have if I would put
a physical show together. For most of them, it was very interesting
to suddenly have a different
relationship with their work. When I started curation, we started, really,
as a kind of reaction against, like, what
was frightening and what was
threatening our future. How do I take back my life? How do I take back,
like, my existence? And how do we live
together, collectively? And we build something. When we talk about BUFU, BUFU’s by us for us, right? Like, we are black and Asian folks, and we’re talking about
our own, personal identities. Any time that we have an opportunity to curate something in a space, we try to consider what it means
to welcome our community and these artists and
organisations into that space, and what is the history
of the neighborhood? What is the history of the institution? Something we’re grappling with is, if we are doing our curation
in communities of colour now that we have more exposure, we automatically welcome a white gaze and so when you are organising
in communities of colour, and suddenly all of these,
like, white folks are coming in
to have that experience, what does that mean? But, at the same time, when you’re asking people of colour to come into these institutions that are traditionally white,
and violent and oppressive, how open and how
safe can that really be? I don’t think that we believe
any space is truly safe, so we just strive
to make them safer. So, Thursday would be
at Brooklyn Museum. – I guess so, yeah. So, BK Museum. A lot of our histories
have been stolen from us, erased from us,
not taught to us, so a lot of this is about
reclaiming those histories. It’s also rare that low income, young, fem, queer, like, trans, folks of colour, get just space. For me, curation is about
creating a network and a web that, like, extends
beyond what’s possible. I aim to create a safe space, or an environment where people feel respected, and they feel like
it’s gonna have integrity. What’s really sweet is when
someone peels you away. They are sisters
and I belong to them. (Singing) Powerplant is rooted
in the whole idea that if you give someone access to tools to express themselves that you have no idea what’s
even going to come of that but it’s not your job
to dictate what comes from it, it’s just your job to trust that, like, magic will happen. I always believe that
an artwork has 10,000 existents depending
on where it happens and where you show that work, and in what context, and what kind of story
is told about this work. Then, so, what is it to show when you don’t have to,
physically, go somewhere? And how you work
through other senses, as scent does. The digital experience
is an incredible tool for what it allows
in terms of ubiquity, in terms of freedom, in terms of investigation
around the visual realm. Artists are not there
to look at the world, they are challenging it, they are its rivals. Art and culture is a domain
we need to protect and we need to fight for, because this is
where we express how vast we are, and how much related we are
as well to each other.

12 thoughts on “The Fifth Sense, Ep 6: Making Exhibitions with Rebecca Lamarche-Vadel, presented by CHANEL and i-D

  1. Cleopatra was definitely a Queen of Africa. But not an African Queen. Historically Macedonian Greek. Artistically African as long as "African" can be expressed through Egyptian history and culture. Just my two cents in what the gentleman said.

  2. Shalom – i will say it's a story tht define wht we see around Us and determine our sense of living Yahla it's like the Art of cooking buy different thing and u end up with "Je ne sais Quoi" a Surprising Taste make US appreciate the result – Bon Courage !

  3. thank you,i-D. i feel absolutely inspired to bring to life any smallest art ideas living in my head right after i see the talented people you film.

  4. HEY FAM, LISTEN MY PROJECT that in which I have been working since 2012.


  5. I'd really like for you guys to make a couple of videos on fat shaming, I think you've touched every other subject but I'd like to hear something on this subject as well

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