NY, January 2016
Marion is a curator from Paris based in Brooklyn, and currently doing research in South America. She graduated with a double-bachelor degree in Art History and Law from Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne University, and moved to NY in 2012 where she completed a masters in Visual Arts Administration from New York University. Over the past few years, Marion worked at The Andrew Edlin Gallery, and collaborated as The Associate Curator of Programs at The Hollows Art Space, amongst others.
MG: Marion Guiraud / AM: NY Art Maps
AM: How would you define your practice?
MG: The curator is a mediator between the artists and the public, articulating ideas and concepts that are not immediately available to the public, or that are newly activated by the interpretation, grouping, and the display of artworks. This can be accomplished through multiple forms. Therefore, my practice varies depending on the scale and type of projects. For example, last year I mostly focused on curating performances and site-specific installations as part of my collaboration with The Hollows Art Space as the Associate Curator of Programs. In doing so my role as a curator was closer to the one of a producer and collaborator. Rather than selecting artworks, I worked closely with the artists to producing works and activating forms and narratives according to the context in which the works were presented. For me, this flexibility within the practice is fascinating. The key is always to balance curatorial inputs with the respect for the artists' intention.
AM: How was your work as a freelance curator in NYC? - Did you have another job in gallery or institution?
MG: I have always combined curatorial practice with other day jobs. Two years ago I was managing The Mimi Ferzt Gallery, located in Soho while working on independent curatorial projects. Last year I was the Gallery Manager at The Andrew Edlin Gallery located on Bowery, right across from the New Museum, while also working as the Associate Curator of Programs at The Hollows Art Space, as well as on independent projects. It is really difficult to make a living as an independent curator, so having another job is quite necessary. I always think that both occupations enrich each other. When you curate a show independently you always have to do managerial and administrative works, while when managing a gallery it is always an advantage to use your critical/curatorial thinking.
AM: What was your job at the Hollows Art Space ? was it different from your practice as an independent curator ?
MG: As the Associate Curator of Programs I was collaborating with Director and Curator Piril Gunduz to develop an agenda of recurring events. I mostly worked on two programs: the NightTime at The Hollows and a series of curated screenings. The NightTime is a monthly series of performances and one-night events. The Hollows’ most important singularity is that it is not a white cube but a townhouse, with stairs, rooms, windows, doors, and moldings. With this in mind, we always used the space as a constitutive part of each event, which informed both the content and shape of the performances. The house also evokes questions of privacy and intimacy, which is quite unique in the context of an art space. These ideas and concepts are inherent to the space, and have been key in developing projects there. In that sense, working with an institution implies to modulate the curatorship to the institution’s singularities, spirit and mission.
AM: What was your first job as a curator?
MG: I curated my first show independently in 2014. I was working at Pioneer Works at the time where I met Eric Fallen, the owner of Peninsula Art Space. He told me that he had recently opened a gallery right around the corner and asked me if I wanted to curate a show. I was actually thinking of an exhibition, and thus worked further on the project. One of the artists in the proposal, Leah Raintree, ended up co-curating the show with me. It was a great experience. The show was titled “Matter To Scale” and featured works by Guy Nelson, Leah Raintree, Brian Rattiner, Christine Howard Sandoval and Laura Tack. The show explored time, scale, and environment though the direct use of natural materials and included a wide-range of medium such as video, painting, camera-less photography, and sculptural works.
AM: Can you tell us about some of the projects you did in NY ?
MG: At The Hollows I initiated a monthly video art screening series, which I found particularly interesting to work on. The first screening that I curated was titled “Ego Sum Communicatio” after an article by Paul Chan titled “The Unthinkable Community,” published by e-flux. The screening presented videos that explore the relationships between digital forms of communication and narrative. I selected works by three New York-based artists: Ryan Brennan, Gautam Kansara, and Sophia Le Fraga, which reflected on the nature and methods of digital modes of narration. In his video, Ryan Brennan used YouTube videos to explore the clumsiness of our voyeuristic and exhibitionist online experiences, while Gautam Kansara’s addressed the malleability of memory as digital devices facilitate processes of saving, updating, and transforming. In “TH3 B4LD 50PR4N0; or, English Made Easy,” Sophia Le Fraga recomposed Ionesco's 1950 play, The Bald Soprano, in the format of a recorded Gchat. The piece underscored a new semiotic relationship between images, language, and symbols, which emerged from digital communication. The grouping of these videos created an interesting dialogue reflecting on the drastic transformation of the way we communicate, receive, and process information. While writing the press-release I was thinking a lot about how these new techniques and forms of narrative have become a constitutive part of our cultural identity, but also created a tremendous generational gap. For example, the generation of our grand-parents would be unable to understand, but even more to read Le Fraga’s scripted video. I believe this is an interesting point to think about and to reflect upon. We have created a new form of linguistic. Maybe digital communication will become, in a near future, the contemporary version of the Tower of Babel: a world in which everyone would share one language.
The screening that followed was the presentation of three videos by Israeli artist Ruth Patir. For this screening I selected works that reflected on her singular filmic process through which she interweaves multiple plans of fictional and real narratives, playing with the documentary genre.
Then, my experience with the NightTime at The Hollows series was also fascinating. We launched the series in November 2015 with dancer Charlotte Colmant who choreographed a 3-person performance that drew inspiration from somnambulism states. The performance unfolded throughout The Hollows’ two floors, and occupied the space of the spectators, who had to physically moved in symbiosis with the dancers. The entire performance was built around the two ideas constitutive of the NightTime series: the night and the house and explored binary concepts such as public and performer, intimacy and viewership, privacy and exposure.
Last May, we invited French artist Clara Claus to perform one of her graphic score pieces, for which musicians interpreted filmed-versions of her drawings and 3-dimensional works. The curatorial process for this show was really interesting: the piece was composed of five music performances, and rather than presenting each act into a singular, static space - as it would have been in another art space - Piril Gündüz, the artist, and myself sequentially choreographed the musical performances throughout the house. The event took place on two floors of the Hollows, occupying four different rooms. Again, the public was invited to follow a path throughout the house, which was activated by a play of light and sound, making their movement an essential activator of the performance itself.