Curator in Nice (FR)

Villa Arson residency, May 2014

Images and notes from my curatorial residency at Villa Arson, Nice (FR) to visit artists' studios, including at La Station, where I presented a public lecture entitled "Turbulence and Calm".

    • Banquet preparation at la Station; photo by Anne-Sophie Lecharme
    • Banquet preparation at la Station; photos by Rob Garrett
    • Banquet preparation at la Station with Aurelien Cornut-Gentille; photo by Rob Garrett
    • Banquet at la Station; photo by Rob Garrett
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2014-05-15: ... and a banquet in La Station's yard after the lecture. Thanks for the kindness, hospitality, inspiration and send-off La Station!

    • Nice lecture, Rob Garrett, 15-05-2014, Title Slide
    • Setting up the stage at La Station; photo by Rob Garrett
    • All ready La Station; photo by Rob Garrett
    • Audience gathering 20140515; photo by Rob Garrett
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TURBULENCE ET CALME, conférence de ROB GARRETT, commissaire indépendant NÉO-ZÉLANDAIS.
JEUDI 15 MAI 2014 à 19:00 –  ENTRÉE GRATUITE – traduction en français par ANNE-SOPHIE LECHARME.
La conférence publique de ROB GARRETT est motivée par deux questions :

  • Premièrement, quel est le rôle de la culture dans la sphère publique, et précisément les beaux arts contemporains, dans le contexte actuel de l’activisme citoyen et des mouvements d’occupation qui appellent une plus grande participation des gens ordinaires dans les politiques publiques ?
  • Deuxièmement, quel aperçu de la scène de l’art contemporain en NOUVELLE ZÉLANDE peut être utile pour un auditoire français local ?

Link :

Entitled "Turbulence and Calm" the lecture is motivated by two questions:

  • First, what is the role of culture in the public realm – and especially contemporary fine arts – in the present context of citizen activism and occupy movements that call for greater participation in public politics by ordinary people?
  • Second, what insights about the New Zealand contemporary art scene might be useful for a local French audience?
    • My writing place at Villa Arson, 2014-05-15; photo by Rob Garrett

2014-05-15: This is my writing place in my studio at Villa Arson. My final afternoon in Nice before returning to Poland tomorrow.

I have just had two wonderful studio visits with artists-in-residence at Villa Arson (which I will write up later): first with Pauline Curnier Jardin; and then with Sebastien Remy and Cyril Verde.

Now, final preparations for my lecture this evening at La Station.

    • Sebastien Remy and Cyril Verde at Villa Arson, 2014-05-15; photo by Rob Garrett

I met with year-long artists-in-residence at Villa Arson, Sebastien Remy and Cyril Verde, and we had a great conversation about artists engaging with communities. Coming together as a collaborative duo for this residency they are developing a suite of projects under the title "ACME: A Company that Makes Everything" (quoting the "Looney Tunes" movie). There has been a 'ghost drawing' project with all those who sleep the night at Villa Arson. Manifest on a wall-sized chalk board in the school, the artists and their collaborators worked at night on the drawing over several weeks; and day-time students and faculty members never saw the work actually being done, only its progressive additions and alterations day by day. Another project sees its first public presentation this week with a flm screening at Villa Arson (on the balcony pictured above). Over a year the artists corresponded with the residents of the remotest island in the world, Tristan da Cunha (pop. 264), in the south Atlantic Ocean, and asked their knitting club (47 members) to knit, in white wool from the islanders' own sheep, each in a different pattern and size, pieces of a patchwork to be stitched together to create a film screen. That work was recently completed and sent on a 3-4 month sea voyage to Nice where the artists worked with a local school to build a free-standing frame for the screen. The completed assembly will be used for the public screening this coming weekend. More collaboration and participatory projects are to come...

    • Pauline Curnier Jardin 2014-05-15 11.00; photo by Rob Garrett
    • Pauline Curnier Jardin, La Geante Baubo et la creche napolitaine, 2012
    • Pauline Curnier Jardin; the anthill watches the repainted Salvator Dali painting
    • Pauline Curnier Jardin filming in 2007
    • Pauline Curnier Jardin film still
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I enjoyed a wonderful visit with Pauline Curnier Jardin in her residency studio at Villa Arson. Navigating my way around the giant glitter ball balanced on a chair near the doorway, the artist explained that it is the place the sun first comes into the studio about 3 in the afternoon and the ball bounces shards of light throughout the room. It is a typical gesture of an artist who thinks in film; is attracted to the works or Bruegel the Elder, Hieronymus Bosch and the Baroque period; and is inspired by myths, fairy tales and epic books. These tales often form the basis of her film projects, and the installations and drawings, and now sculptures and paintings, which derive from them. Together her inventive forms and characters (human, animal and material) meld the mythic and contemporary, often as if through Alice's looking glass.

    • Morning walk 2014-05-14 11.05.24; photos by Rob Garrett

2014-05-14: Morning coffee after getting the day's Chèvre frais and croissants.

    • Walking to, and then from, my meeting with curator Claire Migraine in Valrose, 2014-05-14; photos by Rob Garrett

2014-05-13: My final meeting of the day was with curator Claire Migraine to learn more about the local scene as well as the very interesting public space initiative "Market Zone" which seeks to engage artists in public market places in two cities: Nice (FR) and Cuneo (IT). My walk down to Valrose was just after late afternoon rain and then after our meeting I was walking back in the amber glow of the street lights while the sky still retained some of its deep blue colour.

    • Arnaud Maguet, In Elvis We Trust; and In My Room; courtesy of the artist

2014-05-13: ...and then it was back to Villa Arson to meet with artist Arnaud Maguet after his day of teaching; so he could generously run through his recent projects with me, in a week when he is installing a major show in Marseilles. Maguet's practice fuses a heady mix including music, the culture of the music and promotion industries (for example the Elvis meeting point for 'fans who will believe anything' - above left), community and audience participation projects ("In My Room" at the Centre Pompidou for instance - above right), visual verbal puns and folk culture.

    • Aurelien Cornut-Gentille at la Station, 2014-05-13; photos by Rob Garrett
    • Aurelien Cornut-Gentille and other collective members; Projet Culbuto tree, Villa Garikula 2013
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2014-05-13: Encountering the diversity of Aurélian Cornut-Gentille's practice, across collective and individual projects was a real pleasure. He is a member of the collective that initiated the MAMAC Nice vitrines project for "les visiteurs du soir" see below; and also "Projet Culbuto" at Fest'i Nova 2013 at the Art villa Garikula in Georgia.

His individual works include an often humorous but also down-to-earth comment on and engagement with the body and space. Taking the form of a surfboard (slightly miniaturised to make it human-scale) and made out of plaster of Paris hollowed out by dissolving its polystyrene core, he filled it with alcohol and sauces until the liquids seeped through and the form began to grow its own cultures and reek like a drunken person; he thus created a whimsical commentary on motivation and incapacity, on momentum and imbalance.

    • Emmanuelle Negre, studio, la Station, 2014-05-13 16.03.12; photos by Rob Garrett
    • Emmanuelle Negre, A, 2010
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2014-05-13: I met with Emmanuelle Nègre this afternoon at La Station to see some of her film and light projects. Negre has a great interest in the viewer’s perception of light phenomena and effects. One example is "Å" (2010) a project she generated for "Relatives - Acte 1" (curated by Claire Migraine) at the Villa Cameline when thinking about the summer sun in Norway: suspending a circle of 12 bare bulbs from the ceiling which flashed in cycle 24 times per second, creating a mesmerising and destabilising experience for viewers. She is also experimenting with other perceptual phenomena that cause us to question what and how we see things, such as RGB-splitting by 'mis-using' cheap everyday items such as a low-grade beamer and household fan.

    • Nathan Crothers' studio at La Station 2014-05-13; photos by Rob Garrett

2014-05-13: Nathan Crothers and I had an interesting discussion in his studio at La Station on the perennial question about where the ‘art’ resides between conception, realisation and reception. His recent text projects are experimenting with ‘letting go’ of the final decisions about how the characters of a phrase will be shown, posing the question ‘what is possible when you hand over 160 characters without telling the museum staff what the original statement was?’

    • Sandra D. Lecoq, studio visit 2014-05-13 11.33.32; photos by Rob Garrett
    • Sandra D. Lecoq (FR), La mia casa sei tu, 2013
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2014-05-13: Super enjoyable studio visit with Sandra D. Lecoq Tuesday morning (at Halle Spada, Nice) following up our initial meeting during "les visiteurs du soir". What an adventurous practice with a fine sensibility for colour, space and linguistic games.

2014-05-13: Check out the video portrait of Sandra D. Lecoq by Simone Simon too... #artist #contemporaryart #painting #sculpture #installation_art #france  

    • Jean-Baptiste Ganne, La Station; photo by Rob Garrett

2014-05-12: It was a very inspiring studio visit with Jean-Baptiste Ganne on Monday afternoon at La Station. There is a wonderful immateriality in all of Ganne’s work, and the one exception we talked about was the sculptural-sound object entitled “Esperanza Eterna” [eternal hope]. This art work is a particularly beautiful and annoying riff on the notion of having to hope forever: It is a small box whose upper surface is a solar panel which powers a rechargeable battery inside the box; which in turn drives an MP3 playing a 15 second-long extract of a Tango by Nino de Murcia in a continuous loop. With only 3 hours sunlight the battery is fully charged and will power the player for 10 days continuously. The idea is that the player never stops. It cannot be stopped. There is no ‘off’ switch. The box continuously, eternally repeats Esperanza, hope. Esperanza Eterna defines an autonomous place where hope unceasingly repeats and encloses itself, and remains forever unsatisfied. [Ganne]

In the picture above, taken in Ganne’s studio, he sits in front of a repainting of his wall painting project “Omnia sunt communia” [everything is common], which is a phrase drawn from both Martin Luther (1483-1546) and Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274); and was originally painted by Ganne in 2009 on a street wall in Mur Saint Martin, Paris.

    • Jean-Baptiste Ganne, Le capital illustre

Jean-Baptiste Ganne
Le Capital Illustré
Livre 17x18 cm
23 illustrations couleur
Edité par la Galerie Françoise Vigna
Editions Incertain Sens, 2000

“Jean-Baptiste Ganne’s series of photographs aim at illustrating chapter headings of the book one of Karl Marx’s Das Kapital with documentary images of everyday life. His enterprise evokes both an ingenuous desire to see if Marx’s analysis of industrial society still holds true today, and the inevitable discrepancy between past and present, theory and reality." [Sophie Berrebi]

    • Cedric Teisseire at La Station; photo by Rob Garrett

2014-05-12: I enjoyed an excellent studio visit with Cédric Teisseire at La Station. He showed me a range of painting series and installation projects; including poured paintings; large coloured aluminium sheets jammed into architectural spaces just with the force of the artist's own body; large plywood shapes formed into curves by wedging them between ceiling and floor as counter-points to gallery walls colour-washed in dtergent liquids; and many more. All of these implicate the viewer’s body in space, as dynamic and feeling, and in ways which focus of the materiality of colour. #artist #sculpture #painting #contemporaryart

    • Rob Garrett at Villa Arson with local produce 2014-05-11 12.52.29; photos by Rob Garrett

2014-05-12: This is me at Villa Arson and enjoying meals of local produce collected from nearby markets; including chèvre frais, Corsican tomatoes and the renowned giant prunes from Agen.

    • Diane Blondeau in the sound studio at Villa Arson 20140512_120040; photo by Rob Garrett

2014-05-12: In the sound studio at Villa Arson with installation artist Diane Blondeau, listening to sound tracks and discussing her projects.

    • Karim Ghelloussi studio visit 2014-05-11 04.48.05; photos by Rob Garrett

2014-05-10: Studio visit with Karim Ghelloussi at Halle Spada...

    • Jerome Poret, Insight Light at La Station 2014-05-10 16.50.48; photos by Rob Garret

2014-05-10: Jérôme Poret’s project “Insight Light” for “les visiteurs du soire” at La Station contemporary art centre: The dimly-lit sound installation could be explored using small LED torches that were distributed to visitors, casting pools of blue-white light in contrast to the amber hues of the fixed lighting.

    • Quentin Derouet (details) at Galerie Helebeck, Nice; photos by Rob Garrett

2014-05-10: Sand fused to glass from a beach bonfire; scent of the artist's undergraduate oeuvre at Villa Arson; monochrome 'paintings' made from the charcoal of burned painting stretchers; monoprint impressions of facial make-up taken directly from the faces of collaborators... Following a period of occupying the gallery as artist-in-residence and through a series of collaborations with friends and colleagues who are induced to contribute to the making of the works, Quentin Derouet has produced his first solo show "Le ciel change bien de couleur" at Galerie Helenbeck, Nice #contemporaryart

    • Sandra D. Lecoq studio visit 2014-05-10; photos by Rob Garrett
    • Transformed objets trouve in Sandra D. Lecoq's studio 2014-05-11 04.52.53; photos by Rob Garrett
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2014-05-10: Had a preliminary studio visit with Sandra D. Lecoq at Halle Spada this afternoon and we will meet for an extended discussion early in the week...

    • Gestalt & Gangstagave, vitrines project at MAMAC Nice; photos by Rob Garrett

2014-05-10: Two projects from "Gestalt & Gangstagave" in the street level windows of MAMAC Nice (Vitrines du Musée d'art Moderne et d'Art Contemporain). The project was initiated by a collective of young art graduates from Villa Arson. The project in the lower image was created by the collective of Aurélien Cornut-Gentille, Mathilde Fages, Guillaume Gouerou, Paul Lebras, Vivien Roubaud and Ugo Schiavi; and for the other vitrine (upper image) the collective invited Jean-Charles Michelet.

    • Maison Abandonnee [Villa Cameline], Avenue Monplaisir; photos by Rob Garrett

2014-05-09: ...and the best venue of the first night of "les visiteurs du soir" was Maison Abandonnée [Villa Cameline], 43 Avenue Monplaisir...

    • Robin Decourcy & Alexandra Guillot, Mano a mano, 2014; photo by Rob Garrett

2014-05-09: Artists Robin Decourcy (above right) and Alexandra Guillot (above left) collaborated to identify coincidental correspondences between their photographic oeuvres. These selected images were paired in photo prints (Decourcy) and scans (Guillot) and laid on a table in the first floor ante chamber of La salle de bal de la villa "Les Cygnes" [the swans]; and also reproduced in a book in which the paired images faced each other. "Les Cygnes" was made available for the project, which was part of "les visiteurs du soir" festival, by M. and Mme Lours.

    • details nice 2014 05 10 00 56 05 photos by rob garrett

2014-05-09: Details... La salle de bal de la villa "Les Cygnes" (upper left and bottom) and Espace a vendre rear courtyard (upper right)

    • Marc Chevalier, Espace a vendre (details) 2014-05-11; photos by Rob Garrett
    • Marc Chevalier, Espace a vendre (details) 2014-05-11; photos by Rob Garrett
    • Marc Chevalier, Le 14; photos by Rob Garrett
    • Marc Chevalier, works to illustrate a point, 2014-05-11; photos by Rob Garrett
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    • Marc Chevalier's project at Le 14 on Avenue Romain Rolland; photo by Rob Garrett

2014-05-09 / 2014-05-11: It was great to wander around the Nice galleries and pop-up spaces featured in "les visiteurs du soir" program on a balmy spring Friday night. One highlight was Marc Chevalier's project at "Le 14" on Avenue Romain Rolland, in which he 're-assembled' all the found contents of Anne-Sophie's salon. The project included a collaboration with young artist Simon Nicholas whose performance was to stand motionless in the window alcove as if immobilsed by the precariously balanced furnitures, stacked CDs and teetering books. In addition, and so as to heighten the ambient tension, his slightest movements were amplified through audio speakers in the room as a consequence of having microphone pick-ups attached to his knee joints.

Then on Sunday afternoon I returned to the apartment installation for a longer conversation with the artist during which he explained his working methods and interests; and origins of many projects. "Espace a vendre" [space for sale] pictured above began in a moment of anxiety and a feeling of emptiness as Marc Chevalier contemplated the furnished apartment without any idea of what he was going to do. Then, looking at the full bookcase, he squinted his eyes and suddenly saw the books as if they had popped out and become the structure of the bookshelf rather than the occupants of the shelves... Once he started constructing this vision, the rest followed; consequence and coincidence upon consequence....

    • Frederic Nakache, exhibition views of 'Baiser cannibale' at Le 22; photos by Rob Garrett

2014-05-09: Viewed Frédéric Nakache’s beautiful and quietly menacing exhibition “Baiser cannibal” at “Le 22” galerie on Rue de Dijon; and then had the pleasure of discussing the show with the artist during open studios at Halle Spada (also part of “les visiteurs du soir” programme).

    • alice guittard's le panne and crypt no.1 at galerie eva vautier; photos by Rob Garrett

2014-05-09: A flickering ceiling light and a smoke-filled basement: Alice Guittard's "Le panne" and "Crypt #1" at Galerie Eva vautier during "les visiteurs du soir".

    • Jean Dupuy, Nice, 09-05-2014; photo by Rob Garrett

2014-05-09: It was a great pleasure to make a studio visit with the wonderfully generous Fluxus pioneer Jean Dupuy this afternoon in Nice, France. We talked about forgetting in order to 'lighten' the brain and achieve greater creative agility; and the power of 'suggestion' over ego-driven heaviness and pushing a point....

    • photos by Rob Garrett

2014-05-09: After early morning work in the studio it is lovely to to go for fresh bread and fruit from the markets before first coffee of the day at my local, just down the hill from Villa Arson.

    • Performance by Gael Navard at Le Salon, 7bis Rue des Combattants D'Afrique du Nord; photo by Rob Garrett
    • Gael Navard's performance set up at Le Salon; photo by Rob Garrett
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2014-05-08: Experimental sound performance by Gaël Navard at Le Salon, 7bis Rue des Combattants D'Afrique du Nord.

    • Morning walk and reading artists' portfolios with breakfast near Rue Jean Canavese; photos by Rob Garrett

2014-05-08: Morning walk and reading artists' portfolios with breakfast near Rue Jean Canavèse

    • La Station studio visits with Florian Pugnaire and David Raffini; photos by Rob Garrett

2014-05-07: My first studio visits at La Station contemporary art centre included viewing video projects by Florian Pugnaire and David Raffini - they crush trucks!

    • Pizza in the old city; photos by Rob Garrett

2014-05-06: I arrived in Nice to a very warm welcome from my hosts Éric Mangion of Villa Arson and Alexandra Guillot of La Station. After settling in I enjoyed a very relaxing evening of great conversation, good wine and delicious food (inclusing the local specialty of home-made white pizza with anchovies), overlooking the rooftops of the old city at Jean-Baptiste Ganne's apartment.

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