Meeting with Franck Gautherot, co-director and founder of the Consortium (Dijon)
“40 years of history but we’re still in our teens!”
The internationally renowned Consortium had the instinct to show artists like Richard Prince, Cindy Sherman, On Kawara, John Armleder, Sturtevant, Ugo Rondinone… moving the art cursor outside the capital. We meet Franck Gautherot, one of the co-founders of the adventure and curator of the exhibition dedicated to the American artist Jay DeFeo, as he returns from Korea where he signs an exhibition, with 4000m² and 16 exhibition rooms in a former factory on Longvic Street. Stéphanie Moisdon proposes Matthew Lutz-Kinoy and Pierre Keller with Eric Troncy and finally Anne Pontégnie Rebecca Warren (in partnership with Tate). An interview where anti-conformism and freedom of tone have not disappeared in 40 years!
1. What is the DNA of the Consortium and how was the 40th anniversary event in 2017 conceived?
The DNA of the beginning was independence and collective practice.I
f we go back to the origins, the DNA of the Consortium is multiple and based on the decision taken 40 years ago by a number of friends, post-students to join together to show contemporary art (the Corner of the Mirror) in a geography and time before the TGV where outside Paris there were few places dedicated to contemporary art except the museum of Grenoble, Marseille, the CAPC in Bordeaux, the rest being associative structures acting as counter-powers in the context of the 1970s.
We were at the end of our university career with the desire to invent something without thinking about the commercial system, neither here nor in Paris, too far and expensive, having the chance in Burgundy to have a university with Serge Lemoine as professor of contemporary art with the career that we know who launched invitations to artists to come to make conferences with rudimentary means when we compare to now.
Despite that, we were carried by freedom of choice with a kind of arrogance to believe in self-sufficiency, a position we would no longer hold today, but inevitable at the time. We will have to wait until 1982 for our activities to benefit from the label art center invented by Jack Lang. very quickly to this independence is added a production component, 2nd branch of DNA around artists of conceptual obedience even if we invite Boltanski, Le Gac or Annette Messager who do not fall in this category.
In 40 years we are witnessing a complete paradigm shift with the arrival of digital technology and the Internet, the emergence of new geographical areas and an art scene that is expanding considerably following, among others, the exhibition of Jean-Hubert Martin ‘Les Magiciens de la terre’.
It was necessary to open this Pandora’s box and to consider other scenes, other countries and other modernism than Western modernism. This new context leads us to entrust the renovation and extension of the building to the Japanese architect Shigeru Ban and his French partner Jean de Gastines.
So much so that in terms of surface we go from 40m3 on the 1st floor of an alternative bookstore to 3000m3 today, which entails additional costs and a change in the relationship with artists since the notion of production no longer appears essential.
This part of the original DNA has taken a back seat as the artists we invite with the means or their dealer no longer wait for the context of a new exhibition to develop new pieces.
Our avant-gardism and radicalism at the origin has mutated into a kind of antediluvian classicism… We celebrated the 20th anniversary of the Consortium in 1998, an important marker, orchestrated during 1 year of a whole multidisciplinary program and a publication following the invitation of the Centre Pompidou to show our collection (350 works in total).
20 years later, the Centre Pompidou asked us to select a certain number of works from their collection.
Being the same age we finally accepted, based on common synergies, with found the title by Xavier de “truchement.
His death during the exhibition at the end of June sounded like a disappearance in the celebration. Another milestone and change of era occurred at the death of one of the three co-founders Eric Colliard in 1995 which triggered the arrival of Eric Troncy who arrives with another generation of artists, Pierre Huyges, Maurizio Cattelan.
2. Genesis and stakes of the exhibition The Ripple Effect, of which you are the curator, realized with the support of the Jay DeFeo Foundation and which will continue at the Aspen museum of art in Colorado.
We’ve always shown female artists, who were very present in the 1980s without making a demand of them. Jay De Feo has all the handicaps right from the start: she’s a woman, she’s in California and San Francisco rather than Los Angeles.
She was part of the Beat Generation movement, so scenes other than visual art, but became mythical because for 8 years she worked on a painting,”the Rose”, which stopped when she was expelled from her studio.
This painting then saw a long wandering of this painting immortalized at its delicate exit of the workshop by Bruce Conner.
After his death in 1989 an estate was organized with the workshop to revalue all this history, before Whitney devoted a big retrospective to him in 2013.
Following numerous exchanges with the director of the foundation and testimonies of artists for whom she is a reference we opted for an extended monograph by inviting about ten artists, some having created new pieces on this occasion as Tobias Pils, others having selected works in correspondence.
A publication will be published in May and the exhibition will travel to the Aspen Art museum with whom we had already collaborated in 2015 around Roberto Cuoghi and whose new building was also signed by Shiberu Gan. The exhibition seeks beyond the posterity of Jay DeFeo to show the diversity of the media she uses.
3. How is the programming decided?
We have always made decisions together and it would be difficult for us to describe the process. We have reached the stage of automatisms with a way of working together around the same aesthetic that has expanded considerably. We rarely have conflicts over programming, the only ones that can intervene regarding costs. We shared a certain intuition as we met in the 80s in New YorkWe
turned a lot to the Anglo-Saxon scene because it was easier to go to New York, we were more attracted to the West until I met Seungduk Kim to turn to Asia, which opened us to other aesthetics as with the Yayoi Kuzama exhibition. Even if we did not reveal as the galleries, the artists, we gave the means to some to dare a particular experiment as with Boltanski and proposed for the first time in France, the monographs of several international artists.
4. What is the Archipelago?
Our various fields of action function like an archipelago with a nerve center here and satellites constituted or virtual
Les Presse du Réel was founded in 1992 and in the course of our efforts has become an important publisher for contemporary art and the human sciences, but few people make the link with the Consortium, and in the galaxy there is also the Anna Sanders film production company which works with co-shareholding artists (Pierre Huyghes, Philippe Parreno, Charles de Meaux…)-The New Sponsors: the Consortium is the mediator of the Fondation de France through this procedure which allows commissions to be initiated in the public space.
– Since its inauguration, Bertrand Lavier (FR), Karen Kilimnik (USA), Thomas Houseago (USA), Joe Bradley (USA), John Armleder (CH), Wade Guyton (USA), Kim Gordon & Rodney Graham (USA) have been exhibited there.
On the occasion of the next exhibition cycle in June our exhibition in the form of a biennial”Almanac” we will mobilize all our know-how dedicating the 1st floor to a bookstore Presses du Réel, a cinema Anna Sanders and the exhibition of the latest donations entered into the collection.We will also organize a music festival, a series of conferences with the Centre Pompidou, an exhibition at the Domaine de la Romanée Conti, publish two retrospective books, launch a biannual magazine and present our new graphic identity signed by the M/M Paris agency
5. What are the next challenges facing the Consortium?
The crucial question of survival arises today, not having realized that reopening the building with an area multiplied by 2 but the same operating budget was becoming very difficult. Thanks to contracts in Qatar or Asia won by Seungduk Kim and I have benefited from resources that allow us to continue exhibitions without increasing public money. Now they are finished and we find ourselves with a public financing which does not cover the totality of the salaries. we rediscuss with the financial partners whose the city to which we made an important donation of works in 2014, a part of our history being inscribing in a common good.
40 years later we must reorient and reinvent the economy of the Consortium through a certain number of tracks and zones of accompaniment as the society of the Friends and an advisory committee.
The idea of a think tank could also allow us to think about a number of issues to come.
Jay DeFeo, The Ripple EffectRebecca Warren, Everything that the sky allows (widely acclaimed by critics, favorite!)
Pierre Keller; My ColourFul LifeMatthew
Lutz-Kinoy, Southern Garden of the Château Bellevue
until 20 May 2018
Almanac 2018from June 20, 2018
37 rue de Longvic, Dijon
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