France-Vancouver: A Curatorial Conversation
Saturday, June 14, 6-8 pm
Western Front Grand Luxe Hall
303 East 8th Avenue
All are welcome and admission is free, but please RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org
Please join us for a panel discussion between six French curators and three local participants on the occasion of their research visit to Vancouver. Alexandra Baudelot (Co-Director, Les Laboratoires d’Aubervilliers), Marie Cozette (Director, Centre d’art contemporain – La Synagogue de Delme), Laurence Gateau (Director, FRAC Pays-de-Loire), Marta Ponsa (Head, Department of Artistic Projects, Jeu de Paume), Claire Le Restif (Director, Centre d’art contemporain d’Ivry-le Crédac), and Vincent Verlé (Director, Centre d’art Bastille-Grenoble) will discuss their programs, institutions and research: Outlier Contexts and Communities (with Nigel Prince, Contemporary Art Gallery); Interstitial Spaces (with Amy Kazymerchyk, SFU Galleries Audain Gallery) and Experiential/Experimental (with Lorna Brown, artist and independent curator), with Shelly Rosenblum (Morris and Helen Belkin Art Gallery, UBC) as the evening’s moderator.
France-Vancouver: A Curatorial Conversation is hosted by the Western Front and co-presented by the Consulat Général de France, Vancouver, the Contemporary Art Gallery, SFU Galleries and the UBC Morris and Helen Belkin Art Gallery.
Co-director since 2013 of Les Laboratories d’Aubervilliers in the northeastern suburbs of Paris, Alexandra Baudelot has worked as exhibition curator, editor and writer. In 2009, she created and managed the contemporary art platform Rosascape, an independent art centre based in Paris. Baudelot is interested in production strategies, the artistic research process and reflections on the role of artwork and ways of sharing it with the public.
Marie Cozette is Director of the Centre d’art contemporain – La Synagogue de Delme, located in a 19th century synagogue in rural eastern France. Since her arrival there in 2007, Cozette has curated numerous solo exhibitions by artists including Susan Hiller, Marie Cool and Fabio Balducci, Louise Hervé and Chloé Maillet, and Erick Beltran, and collaborated with guest curators including Mathieu Copeland and Anna Colin to create exhibitions on themes of identity, migration and the politics and sounds of ethnomusicology. In 2004, Cozette co-founded and co-curated Bétonsalon, an independent art space in Paris.
Laurence Gateau has been Director of FRAC Pays-de-la-Loire since 2005, where she has curated exhibitions by artists including Thomas Huber, Fabrice Hyber, Monica Bonvicini, Gina Pane, Tatiana Trouvé, Martin Boyce, Jand Marc Camille Chaimowicz. (The French Regional Contemporary Art Funds (FRAC) are public collections that were created in 1982 to disseminate contemporary art within each region of France.) From 2000 to 2004, Gateau directed Villa Arson Nice where she curated numerous exhibitions of senior international artists including Gary Hill, Mona Hatom, Paul McCarthy Mark Lewis and Fiona Tan, with a special survey exhibition on Chinese artists in 2004.
Since 2007, Marta Ponsa has been Head of the Department of Artistic Projects and Cultural activities at the Jeu de Paume, Paris where she is responsible for the Jeu de Paume’s online exhibition space Espace Virtuel and webzine, Le Magazine. For Espace Virtuel, Ponsa has curated exhibitions on Mark Lewis, Samuel Bianchini and Agnès de Cayeux. Prior to this, she spent eight years in the Department of Photography and Visual Arts at La Caixa Foundation, Barcelona where she organized exhibitions by Richard Avedon, Lee Friedlander and Pierrick Sorin.
Claire Le Restif has been Director of the Centre d’art contemporain d’Ivry-le-Crédac since 2003, where she has worked with artists such as Lara Almarcegui, Leonor Antunes, Mircea Cantor, Peter Coffin, Aurélien Froment, Geert Goiris, Friedrich Kunath, Mathieu Mercier, Jessica Warboys. As an independent curator, Le Restif has organized exhibitions for numerous venues, including: Attitudes, Geneva; Kunsthausbaselland, Basel; Smack Mellon Center, Brooklyn; Aksanat Art Center, Istanbul; and Academia de Bellas Artes, Madrid.
Vincent Verlé has been Director of the Centre d’Art Bastille in Grenoble since 2011. In 2001, Verlé arrived in Grenoble while managing the artistic collective Ici Même. He became the art critic for a local cultural newspaper, while at the same time collaborating as one of the contributors for Nouvelle Galerie, a local contemporary art gallery. He joined the Centre d’Art Bastille as Manager of Public Programs when it first opened in 2006, where he continues to focus on composing and creating coherent approaches and dialogues between artworks and engaging new audiences.
The Contemporary Art Gallery presents the first solo exhibition in Canada by French artist Aurélien Froment, comprising an ambitious body of newly commissioned work.
Froment has produced an exhibition which focuses on the series of educational toys (Spielgaben or play gifts) designed by Friedrich Fröbel (1782–1852), the German founder of the original Kindergarten. Froment’s longstanding interest in Fröbel was aroused by the openness of the system of objects he devised, which has paradoxically resulted in both their survival and disappearance. For Froment as for Fröbel, each shape begets another, each form foreshadows a second; all images are keys to other images. Replicas have been produced based on historical artifacts, presenting for the first time in an exhibition, the play gifts in the complete sequence as imagined by their author. The objects are presented alongside an ensemble of photographs, which map Fröbel’s pedagogy, while drawing connections with earlier, as well as future uses of the geometric grid. Fröbel Fröbeled is therefore an exhibition on Fröbel, with Fröbel — an exploration of his art, as well as a reflection on what lies beneath his system of objects.
Drawing on the ideas of philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau and the experiences of Swiss pedagogue Johan Pestalozzi, Fröbel advocated for a practice of education where the child and the teacher are co-workers, with play and self-activity at the center of the learning process. To this end Fröbel introduced activities such as singing, dancing, gardening, map making and created a series of educational toys, the play gifts. He brought together existing children’s toys (wooden blocks, woollen balls, sticks), stripped of any signs suggesting pre-determined educational purposes such as letters, numbers, figures or colours and sequenced these within an overarching system of relationships in which each toy foreshadows the next while being transformed. A soft woollen ball turns into a hard wooden sphere; a sphere into a cube via a cylinder; a cube is divided into smaller cubes and so on, until volumes become surfaces, surfaces become lines and lines are segmented towards infinity. Continuity and opposition systematically order the world of Fröbel’s gifts. Since the mid-nineteenth century, many educationalists and manufacturers appropriated the influential Kindergarten material and while establishing it as a prominent feature of modernity, the consistency of Fröbel’s ideal was slowly diluted, lost or abandoned.
Throughout his career, Fröbel continually refined his play gifts to achieve the greatest scope through their different forms, relations and applications. They constitute a modest but complex body of works, used for object lessons and often accompanied by analogies and stories, something tangible to enhance the understanding of something conceptual.
Individual sets comprised balls, blocks, sticks, paper folding and weaving, peas and clay. From simple geometrical shapes could appear a chair, a worker’s house, a train, a ruin or a flower, as well as introducing abstract notions such as unity and interconnectedness. Each gift would be used in short sessions of directed play. Collector and scholar Norman Brosterman states in his seminal book Inventing Kindergarten, that “unlike the building blocks, mosaic toys, and traditional crafts that were their forebears, the gifts were never available for entirely ‘free play’. Their use was always related to the three realms: forms of nature (or life), forms of knowledge (or geometry, mathematics and science) and forms of beauty (or art).” The potential of each toy and its associated applications were therefore multiplied according to their ability to represent, demonstrate or to be arranged in a pleasing way.
In the exhibition, each gift is also used and depicted by Froment in a number of different ways. To the three realms proposed by Fröbel — nature, knowledge and beauty — Froment suggests to add two others — cultural forms and material forms — revealing aspects of the gifts’ own history while reflecting on its mediation within a contemporary public art gallery. In some of the accompanying photographs, the gifts are staged based on engravings featured in Fröbel’s own manuals and literature that followed. Representing a throne, a church, a castle, a cross or a sentry box, the photographs draw the imaginary atlas of an archetypal world rooted in the nineteenth century. Whether photographed by Froment like diagrams, models, products or architecture, they perform, alongside their related toy, some of the instructions provided in the early handbooks while potentially becoming again loose instructions themselves. Divorced from their original publication context and captions, freed from their layout, the constellation of images in the exhibition unfolds as another gift.
If the first series of photographs notionally illustrate uses of the play gifts while mapping a model world, other predominantly small-scale images relate more specifically to the biography of the German pedagogue. Fröbel lived and worked close to his birthplace in Thuringia, central Germany. He founded his first institution for early childhood education in 1837 in the small town of Bad Blankenburg where two years later, he coined the term ‘Kindergarten’. Juxtaposed with the graphic educational material, this series of views of the countryside near Jena (the former East Germany near the Czech Republic border) show a reality without clear narrative, yet situates geographically, socially and culturally the genesis of Fröbel’s project. Through this Froment implies a complex relationship between the objects, images, ideas, places and us as audience. The work becomes the vehicle to draw our attention to changed contexts and so perceptions shift. We contemplate ideas not in a void but think while practising.
Alongside the exhibition in Vancouver, the CAG is working in partnership with DIM Cinema at The Cinematheque to present Interludes: Aurélien Froment. Complementing the exhibition, the films selected by Froment often use the format of instructional videos. Taking place on January 20, 2014 at 7.30 pm, works to be screened include The Apse, the Bell and the Antelope (2005); Pulmo Marina (2010); Théâtre de poche (2007); Fourdrinier Machine Interlude (2010); Camillo’s Idea (2012).
The exhibition is made in collaboration with Villa Arson, Nice, France; Spike Island, Bristol, UK; Frac Île de France — Le Plateau, Paris, France; Heidelberger Kunstverein, Germany. A publication will be developed in 2015 bringing together this new commission and the various presentations in the exhibition tour.
Research toward the production of this work is funded by a grant from programme ‘Hors les murs’ 2011 of the Institut Français. The exhibition is supported by the Consulat Général de France à Vancouver and Institut Français.
Born in 1976 in Angers, France, Aurélien Froment lives and works in Dublin. Solo exhibitions by Froment have been presented at Le Credac, Ivry-sur-Seine; Musée départemental de Rochechouart; Centre culturel français, Milan; Marcelle Alix, Paris; CCA Wattis, San Francisco; Montehermoso, Vitoria-Gasteiz; Bonniers Konsthalle project room, Stockholm; The Physics Room, Christchurch; Motive Gallery, Amsterdam; Frac Champagne-Ardenne, Reims; Module du Palais de Tokyo, Paris; Project Arts Centre, Dublin and Les Laboratoires d’Aubervilliers.
Group exhibitions include The Encyclopedic Palace, 55th Biennale di Venezia; Curiosity, Turner Contemporary, Margate; Mind is Outer Space, Casey Kaplan Gallery, New York, (2013); Descriptive Acts, SF MoMa, San Francisco; Tactics for the Here and Now, Bucarest Biennale 5; In the Holocene, MIT List Visual Arts Center, Cambridge; Hapax Legomena, Mercer Union, Toronto (2012); A Terrible Beauty is Born, Biennale de Lyon; Our Magic Hour, Yokohama Triennale; Dystopia, CAPC, Bordeaux (2011); 2 1/2 Dimensional, deSingel, Antwerp; 10,000 Lives, Gwangju Biennale; Art Parcours, Basel (2010); Paper Exhibition, Artist Space, New York; From the Gathering, Helen Pitt Gallery, Vancouver; The Space of Words, Mudam, Luxembourg (2009); The Way in which it Landed, Tate Britain, London; Word Event, Kunsthalle Basel; The Great Transformation, Frankfurter Kunstverein; Inaugural festival, Nam June Paik Center, Seoul (2008).
Froment is represented by Marcelle Alix, Paris and Motive Gallery, Brussels.
As part of our Feedback series acclaimed Toronto-based artist Luis Jacob responded to Aurélien Froment’s exhibition ‘Fröbel Fröbeled’, he also discussed his own practice and his interest in pedagogical ideas contained in the exhibition.
Luis Jacob is an artist based in Toronto, whose diverse practice addresses social interaction and the subjectivity of aesthetic experience. Realized as painting, video, installation, photography and actions in the public sphere, Jacob’s work invites a collision of meaning systems that destabilize our conventions of viewing and that open up possibilities for engagement and the creation of knowledge.
As an artist, he has achieved an international reputation – particularly since his participation in documenta12, curated by Ruth Noack and Roger Bürgel in 2007. Several significant solo exhibitions include Kunstverein Hamburg (curated by Meike Behm and Yilmaz Dziewior in 2008) ; Städtisches Museum Abteiberg, Mönchengladbach (curated by Suzanne Titz in 2009); Fonderie Darling, Montréal (curated by Marie Fraser in 2010); Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art, Toronto (curated by David Liss in 2011); and Kunsthalle Lingen (curated by Meike Behm in 2012). Jacob’s work was also featured in group exhibitions at the Taipei Biennial (2012); Centro de Arte Dos de Mayo, Madrid (2012); Witte de With Contemporary Art, Rotterdam (2012); Generali Foundation, Vienna (2011); Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York (2010); Contemporary Art Museum, Houston (2010); Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA), Philadelphia (2009); Museum voor Hedendaagse Kunst (MuHKA), Antwerp (2008); Barbican Art Gallery, London (2008); and The Power Plant Contemporary Art Gallery, Toronto (2008). His work is found in the permanent collection of the Generali Foundation (Vienna, Austria); National Gallery of Canada (Ottawa, Canada); Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum (New York, USA); Städtisches Museum Abteiberg (Mönchengladbach, Germany); Morris and Helen Belkin Art Gallery, University of British Columbia (Vancouver, Canada); Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal (Canada); Museion‚ Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art (Bolzano, Italy); Agnes Etherington Art Centre (Kingston, Canada); Art Gallery of Ontario (Toronto, Canada); and the Justina M. Barnicke Gallery, University of Toronto (Toronto, Canada).MORE
Pulmo Marina is a film and a publication. It is the story of a living creature that was raised for display behind a window in a tank at the Monterey Bay Aquarium, California. Then it has been filmed and projected onto the big screen and now it is fractioned in discrete units printed on paper. It is the story of a living form which is always the same, always different.MORE
Based on an interview between Aurélien Froment and Werner Herzog in Los Angeles in 2008, this publication focuses on the image of the ship on the hill, which symbolises Fitzcarraldo's plot and the myth that has surrounded the film and its production.MORE
Designed by Åbäke, a limited edition game with a box of 96 colour cards, edition of 146.
Display all the cards face down on a table.
Players take it in turn to flip over two cards at a time until a pairing is found and agreed. Remove the pairs and continue until the table is empty.
Co-published by Dente-De-Leone, UK and Motive Gallery, Brussels.MORE