Aurélie Faure aka Katarina Stella / Art Vilnius’19 Curator Who Knows How to Work Hard and Play Hard

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How do you become a curator of the biggest art fair in the Baltics? You go to the French countryside for a weekend and have a blast. There you meet people who later meet people. Well, a decade of work in the galleries, curating and creating an experience in contemporary art is an advantage too. You didn’t think it was all so easy, did you? And, also, there is curiosity that brought Aurélie Faure aka Katarina Stella to Vilnius. While making a program for the art fair, she found time to meet us and it was pure fun.

27 February, 2019

by RINGAILE PAPARTYTE

photographer DARIUS MARKUNAS

Tell us more about Aurélie Faure and Katarina Stella – your nocturnal alter ego – what things are shared by them both and which ones help you to separate your daily and artsy lives?

Recently, someone asked me if it is all the experience in the art field that had brought me to these last new projects, and partly it is true, but I also realised that it came because of the people I had met during the night. Work hard, play hard. 

Katarina is more about creation. I had been working in the galleries for 6 years, and those were the times of hiding. This is how Katarina Stella was born – the secret, professional one. Katarina Stella was the wild, the dark part of me, that I was always hiding. I can be very intense, I am honest. I could be very direct or debate all night. People know when I stop acting as society wants me to, and this is Katarina. So that’s about the wild part. I was scared before by people who wouldn’t understand it.

While working in Galerie Emmanuel Perrotin, I was always properly dressed, wearing high heels. I played this game. And at the same time, I spent every Wednesday evening in the suburb helping my friends out on our hip-hop radio Neversleep. In the end, I was always finding myself on the train, going back to work after this all-nighter and turning into that properly dressed gallerist. Recently, someone asked me if it is all the experience in the art field that had brought me to these last new projects, and partly it is true, but I also realised that it came because of the people I had met during the night. Work hard, play hard. 

Sometimes, it also seems to me like there is this good star, looking after you: I always meet good people on my way. Things happen when you don’t expect them and you’re just being yourself. I was 22 and had no idea about the Perrotin Gallery, but I got the job and spent one year working for MURAKAMI Versailles. This is how I met Léo Marin and Marguerite Lauras in the Perrotin Gallery. Marguerite taught me everything, I still hear her voice in my head: always double checking

Then I met Eva Hober, she is one of the first people who trusted me. She let me coordinate a traveling exhibition of 36 french painters, La Belle Peinture. On my first day, she introduced me to Nicolas Ledoux, the director of the graphic studio ABM, to do the catalogue. I had never done that before! Nicolas taught me a lot and I have been working with his studio till this day. I have made 20 books and now I manage a publishing house Born And Die with Léo Marin and Ivan Dapic. 

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Sometimes, it also seems to me like there is this good star, looking after you: I always meet good people on my way. Things happen when you don’t expect them and you’re just being yourself.

The first destination of this exhibition was Istanbul. I was at the airport to welcome everyone before the opening and one gallerist was missing on my list. Suddenly, I saw her in the corridor arriving with high heels and this short leather dress, sexy and experienced, strong and speaking very fast. It all looked just like a movie, and I thought, who is this woman?! This was Suzanne Tarasieve, and we just fell in love with each other. She was looking for someone to open her second gallery in Paris and she gave me the job, same as Eva had done before. Everything in my career grew just like that. 

After 3 or 4 years I wanted to stop working with galleries and start projects with artists and curators. I wanted to work with Gaël Charbau. Before being a curator, he had launched the art newspaper, Editions Particules, which I really liked. I told him this during an opening, but he had nothing to offer me at that time. Two years later, he called me back for the Bourse Révélations Emerige. We have been working together for 5 years already and we have accomplished a lot, as Nuit Blanche 2018, for example! We are partners. 

During the second edition of Emerige, I met Louis-Cyprien Rials. Since the beginning, I trusted in his work whereas some people thought he was just crazy. We used to talk about his projects and eventually became friends. Last year, we travelled in Kosovo by motorcycle in January: it’s a bromance. Recently, he won the SAM Prize at Palais de Tokyo and I’ll curate his two next solo shows. All these people are just like family to me.

Once the painter, Thomas Lévy Lane, who knows the Parisian cinema world, texted all of his friends from the art world to act for a mass wedding scene in a film directed by Justine Triet. So, you are invited to the countryside to celebrate and get paid. What do you do? Lots of contemporary art people were there, obviously. During these two days, Ivan Dapic and I met Michel Castaignet and his nephew. We talked a lot and spent a very good time. We never saw each other again, but it was him who spoke to Sonata Baliuckaitė - Artistic Director of Art Vilnius - about me. In a way, this is how I became a part of Art Vilnius team this year. And with Sonata we have a bond too: same energy, same age, same background, we both have been working in art for 10 years. It’s always about people.

And despite all the lucky–rewarding coincidences in the art world, law school and politics somehow got in your way too?

People often ask, oh, so you did law for your parents. But it’s not my case. I had been fighting with my dad before going to the art school, yes, but after my graduation I decided to study law. After high school, I was hesitating between two. And often in my life I do that, I take both. That could be complicated sometimes but with no regrets. I was 20 and scared to get into artist life at that time. Finally, I am taking risks to do what I trust in for ten years.

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Looks like it was Aurélie, not Katarina deciding that time. Why?

Maybe because you have to show yourself as an artist. And the pragmatic things too – you have to pay your rent. There is something about Justice. Law is supposed to protect and to defend people. But it depends by whom and how it’s used. Many people are abused cause they don’t really know their rights, or they don’t have the right administrative language vocabulary. It seems unfair to me. And political sciences – it’s because everything is politics. We should never forget it. Do you have an Android, or an iPhone? Do you use Google, Safari or Opera? Do you buy coffee or tea? Everything. 

Choices again. Could you make one if a loud night out hitting the streets of Paris and a cosy evening at home with friends would be served for you?

I have had a close group of friends for 12 years now, they are my other family. And none of them works with contemporary art. I need them badly.

Loud night depends on the fire that burns you, cause sometimes you just need to hang out, drink and dance all night. And the next morning you feel relaxed, and you can do everything, even if you are a bit tired. Sometimes, I do it alone, I don’t drink, I just go to some punk concert and do a pogo therapy there.

I have had a close group of friends for 12 years now, they are my other family. And none of them works with contemporary art. I need them badly. One friend is a social assistant, she helps the migrants. Another one is making videos. The third - works for the TV channel about horses. There is also a graphic designer who makes toys and games for kids. Sometimes we all gather to try these new games, though we are in our 30s. They know me so well. 

There are also times when you just need to take a car and go to the countryside. Silence and nature are there for you. You don’t need a phone anymore. Yes, you might feel anxious at first, but later you see that world goes on even without you checking your e-mail every five minutes. 

I see, a day or few without a phone wouldn’t kill you, but how long could you survive with no sound or image by your side? How can these be replaced if there are no headphones in your pocket or some gallery around the corner?

For me, the image is about imagination and memory. A word is enough to draw something in your mind. We always make projections while talking. And the same word usually produces totally different pictures for everyone. Our perception of reality changes with time also. Our brain produces lots of pictures. None of them is true, these are only interpretations. 

And silence. It just doesn’t exist. I am very sensible to the soundscape. You can hear rhythms both being alone in nature or in a loud factory. Your body makes sounds itself. There is no silence.

At the end of a long day, I stop listening to music. On vacations, I refuse to do exhibitions or museums. I need to reset and spend time with people I love. Cause the brain needs a break to see and hear things freshly.

No silence and lots of sounds on your CV. How did your Spotify Wrapped of 2018 look like? 

I wanted to speak, I speak a lot. Orality is the transmission I need. Feels a bit like a law school, it’s about the words: which ones and how do we use them.

A year and a half ago Rémi Dal Negro invited me to do a duo in the exhibition. I was the only curator among all the artists. The initial idea was to do some writing, an edition or a book, but I was fed up with writing at the time. I wanted to speak, I speak a lot. Orality is the transmission I need. Feels a bit like a law school, it’s about the words: which ones and how do we use them. So, I edited and recorded a soundtrack to listen to on headphones in the exhibition. I chose words based on Rémi’s work, I defined them and played with them. 

After this first experience, two friends – Arnaud Idelon & Samuel Belfond – who liked the concept asked me to do it for a radio-show Les démons de minuits, on La StationStation Radio. So I did it shorter to make a transition between guests. Then, Clément Douala invited me to make ALCANTARA mon amour with Chloé Cohen. And now I have a pirate radio with Romain Poirier: S.C.A.L.A.R.S.T.A.T.I.O.N

The more sound projects I do, the tighter my relationship with the voice gets. So, five years ago I was making books and now I’m doing radio. It’s interesting for me how the TV, books, print and radio evolved. The initial idea of media was good, but I think we forgot it. 

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And where should we look for the loudest voices of emerging artists and the hot–spots of art now?  

We have interesting talents everywhere, and I’m not a fan of trends. Well, there was this trend to have an Asian artist for the last ten years, and then having Indian or African art. Now it’s South America. But for me personally, it’s about being curious. I’ve been working with some artists for five years now, and I started these collaborations not because I thought, oh, they are emerging and will be famous, but because I trust them. 

I’m very interested in Baltic countries, Balkans and the Middle East now. It is about people, history and geography, and it’s more about “I want” than “I know”. It’s about putting Vilnius or Sarajevo on the map – I want you to point me the exact place with no doubt. Because there is something complex and new growing here. 

Will Art Vilnius give some of these hot vibes of newness this year? As a regular visitor, what surprises should I expect? And how to sell it for my friends who will come for the first time?

We’ll make a combo to create conjunction between Lithuanian and French, to discover each other. That could be achieved with talks between curators, artists, and collectors from both France and Lithuania.

I don’t want to put French art and just say, oh, this is France. We’ll make a combo to create conjunction between Lithuanian and French, to discover each other. That could be achieved with talks between curators, artists, and collectors from both France and Lithuania.

I would like to do performances. And most of the performance artists I think about are flexible, they are used to traveling and working with volunteers, so Lithuanians could do pieces with them as well. I want to make a video program and also present creations of young French painters: the scenography could be created in collaboration with Lithuanian artist Robertas Narkus. Also, some music. We are thinking about a sound performance with Lina Lapelyte and one French compositor, Romain Poirier. It’s an opportunity to create connection between people. Let’s see what will happen. 

Exchanging, sharing, learning, being curious together. Together is better. This is Art Vilnius’19.

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