Thomas Havet – Double Séjour
Let first start by introducing yourself. What led you to curate exhibitions?
I am an interior architect and architect and I work in an agency. I founded the association Double Séjour through which I organize group exhibitions with young artists and which started in my apartment. I wanted to do exhibitions and bring people together. The question of the place arose spontaneously and the idea of doing it at home came with the reading of Thomas Clerc’s book Intérieur. It became obvious. Although one lives in an apartment with intensity, it is a precarious time. How do we charge and animate the space, how we question it? Those questions shaped the project. Through the organization of exhibitions people come to the apartment, the door is open. The works rubbed the furniture and my personal effects with almost the idea to question the bourgeois living room ans go beyond.
Was there a connection with the idea of a collection ?
The question arose because I lived during the time of the exhibition with the works. There is a strange feeling to wake up in this environment, it’s not really home anymore. A lot of exhibitions takes place in apartments but less in an inhabited apartment, not emptied. It is trying but I loved the experience, it involves the part of the intimate. But unlike the collector, the works do not belong to me but dialogue around a theme with artists that I want to gather and with whom I want to work. These are works that question me and produce meaning in terms of an idea or a theme. There is an ambivalence between an exhibition in an apartment, the display of a collection and the idea of a dinner by inviting people to their homes. It’s intense, full of generosity in the exhibition between artists and the audience. It brings to different relationships than those born in a white cube.
Those who come show a true interest because it can’t be seen from the street as an art gallery would be. So there is a real curiosity.
Exactly, it was also necessary to give people the desire to come. The relationship becomes more intimate to the works and people are asking for that.
Also, an important element, you only organize group exhibitions.
I like to work on the relationship of works between them, which explains my taste for group exhibitions. Exploring a theme or an idea through works and artists while trying to write it together. The hanging can be voluntarily loaded, emit attractions and repulsions. I believe in it and I want to apprehend it and question hanging along exhibitions.
For example, for the exhibition named Déjà Vu which took place at Chez Kit, it was different from what I had done before. The hanging and the space were dictated by geometries. I had in mind the work of choreographers who draw. Writing space is what I do everyday in my job so I always come up with a very specific plan for each exhibition. The report of the works at the place animates me. The group exhibitions goes beyond a selection of artists. The gesture of hanging does not say anything about being together. What interests me is to produce at one time an attempt to tell something by the collective exhibition.
Yes, you don’t consider exhibition through a didactic prism.
Yes it goes beyond a juxtaposition around a theme. I discern in my attitude with artists, I ask them more than usual for in a collective exhibition, there is another proximity. I want to have an approach of curating. I’m having a word on how to hang things up. And in relation to artists, what I like is to discover a way of working, to apprehend the world, to tickle it.
You mentionned about writing the space, how important and meaningful is the exhibition space in your approach ?
In general I start with the space. The place drives the theme. I have all the time ideas of exhibition and the place unblocks one. Exhibitions often do not consider places. Many apartment shows pretend not to be in an apartment for example. For Grand Surface in Brussels, the space was considered in the same way for most of the previous exhibitions, whereas the two floor have nothing to do, the ground floor is very bourgeois, domestic and can be compared to a white cube while the basement is dark, more like a cellar. This typology was the starting point with the works to create a sensation. Also, I think that the exhibition who took place at Franklin Azzi, the space in the basement is a large room floor and glass ceiling which evoked immediately a dramatic atmosphere, like a lass vessel towards the apocalypse, the exhibition Décandence imposed itself.
You attach great importance to the archive and the trace of the exhibition.
Especially through publication but each of them goes beyond the exhibition catalog to almost stand as a second counterpart of the exhibition. How do you come to each publication ?
The question of the photographic documentary archive nourished each publication: how to keep track of the hanging? I work with a different photographer for each exhibition with a full trust and freedom to transcribe what was in the hanging. This was particularly the case for the first publication Double Séjour Volume 1. For the second publication, the book Suave Mari Magno was published for the Décadence exhibition at Franklin Azzi and it is the theme of the exhibition that has been documented. For the last exhibition, Accords made with le Journal d’un Anosmique, the publication will return on the process because we worked with perfumers. The goal is to try to document the exhibition within the form of an object as autonomous as possible.
Also the notion of invitation appears recurring, it seems part of the vocabulary of Double Séjour.
I like this idea. Even if we are not a collective, we are many to work on it. We left the apartment but we became nomadic and it remained Double Séjour. I appear as a curator but it is the entity that is invited. And the notion of invitation is always present. The exhibition place invites Double Séjour now. It also connects to the idea of dinner and exhibitions. With whom I want to share this moment. And there are plenty of people I would dream of having dinner with.
The idea invitation was staged in two of your exhibitions.
Yes, on the last two exhibitions at the apartment. I invited six artists around the theme of The Wedding Feast at Cana. It opened up on many things, including the original and the copy. The invited artists produced a piece and invited for the exhibition after artists to create on this theme. The question of the duo also arose, the pieces which replace, complete, or are made together.
Does intuition dictates your choices?
Only. I’m working on an exhibition which will take place in Arles, and for example I heard a music on the radio, the words of the end have worked on me and this is the starting point of this exhibition. And more and more artists seemed to make sense for this exhibition.
I noticed that your exhibition texts step away from codified ones which can have a theoretical angle.
Yes indeed, but it could be. I write according to what I have in mind and instinctively. I write short texts but I also take confidence with that and text often comes to the end. They are built by the accumulation, the reactions of each other.
What’s your definition of art ?
Art is a way of apprehending the other. The exhibition is a medium between one person and another. It is a way of creating a dialogue towards the other by saying who we are. The hanging of exhibitions precisely reflects this dialogue.
Current exhibitions on view until June 9th :
Accords by Journal d’un Anosmique and Double Séjour
Au Sept, 7 rue Elzévir, Paris IIIème
Group show gathering 9 young contemporary artists and 7 perfumers in the form of an olfactory dorica castra.
With : Andrés Baron, Jonathan Bréchignac, Côme Clérino, Inma Femenía, Clément Mancini, Simon Martin, Manoela Medeiros, Roman Moriceau, Pierre-Alain Poirier
& Alexandra Carlin, Emilie Coppermann, Pierre Gueros, Marine Ipert, Aliénor Massenet, Annick Menardo, Maurice Roucel
Curator : Thomas Havet
Interview by Fiona Vilmer, writer specialized in contemporary art.
Photographs courtesy of the Double Séjour.