To understand the pop essence of today's art design, it was social, you need to go to Paris where the three curators Louise Ghislaine, Anna Klossowski and Charlotte Morel founded in 2015 We do not work alone, a gallery where you can find artworks to use every day.
Not sculptures, paintings or installations, but everyday, functional objects and tools to use. In a nutshell: art design.
The formula is simple: they choose an artist and commission a household object, sometimes a single piece, sometimes a series.
From matchboxes to carpets, from chocolate bars to bottle caps. Prices are within reach of all budgets and art enters homes in the form of objects for use and consumption.
A small, simple revolution. Which brings contemporary art to a completely different place, symbolic and spatial.
How was We do not work alone?
We met while studying art and curating it. We have worked together since the beginning, but We do not work alone was born in 2015.
Anna Klossowski made a trip to Japan, where she visited the house of the ceramist Kanjiro Kawai and discovered a book that collects her writings.
A revealing reading, a series of animist reflections that inspired us in defining an idea of total art. For Kanjiro Kawai beauty is in every object, in every artifact, and it brings joy to everyday life.
It is an idea that pervades Japanese design culture: the attention to an aesthetic capable of giving dignity to every object, even the humblest one.
We do not work alone seems more like a declaration of intent than the name of a gallery…
The starting point is simple: the artist does not live in a world apart, separated from the world, closed in her studio.
According to Kanjiro Kawai, his practice is linked to the world, in a profound relationship with gestures, materials, work, people.
This is the meaning of We do not work alone: art immersed in every daily act, a useful art, companion of people, which has the task of transforming life prosaicness of simple gestures in symbolic and significant acts. An art that reminds us that we are many things, human beings in relationship with a world that inspires us and to which we give meaning.
It is a revolutionary attitude of curatorship, in a certain sense. How do the artists react?
We choose the artists we like and who can spontaneously adhere to this way of working.
A lot of contemporary art has returned to deal with craftsmanship, manuality, making. It is an intrinsic need of this historical moment, we don't impose an idea from above, rather we give a sensible shape to what is already happening among young artists.
We do a lot of research, of course, and the relationship with the artists is very different from the traditionally curatorial one.
We are with them, we work alongside them. The report is made above all of a dialogue that has as its objective a work sensitive to the demands of everyday life.
Sometimes these are unique pieces, sometimes serial editions: we let the artist decide and we rely on her sensitivity.
Your pieces are of art design but they don't cost much: why?
The idea is to concretely bring art into a permeable relationship with the world. Impossible to do if the costs are too high.
It is clear that continuing to enclose contemporary practice in cultural and economic niches cannot work within our project of curating.
What is the most complex part of your project?
The sale is always the sore point of gallery work.
It is not dissimilar from those involved in design: those who design are confronted with necessary and obvious limits: of functionality, of design intelligence, industrial and artisanal, and economic rationality.
The plus of our work, compared to design, is the creative freshness of the artists. Issues such as ergonomics and usability are treated innocently, naively.
It is an attitude that is completely detached from industrial design, also because the aim is to live with art, to seek dialogue between everyday life and a more conceptual dimension.