Arts and Social Equality in a Digital Age: A Chat with Laetitia Duveau from Curated by Girls (NSFW)

2017-04-12

Social equality is a concept that seems far from being reality in times of populism, anxious societies and totally overwhelmed young generations. Curated by Girls is a young platform supporting artists regardless of their gender, ethnicity or social background. We talked to their founder and curator Laetitia Duveau about her work and the challenges of our times.

From left to right © Parker Day, Pol Kurucz

Curated by Girls – a platform supporting artists from all genders, ethnicities, generations and backgrounds. Simply put: is it a platform supporting art without looking at who the artist is?

Yes the idea of CBG is to give a chance to any creative mind whose art has a profound message related to diversity, equality, gender identity, feminism. I follow my instinct in the selection! So if you're not selected it doesn't mean you are not good enough! I don't make any judgment on work. It just touches me or not. I receive a lot of works that lack an original touch but an artist can evolve.

How do you choose the artists you feature? Do you research about their background? Do the artists have to pass kind of a political correctness test, or do you really just look at their works?

I am touched by their work or not! And I guess, I can sense the personality through someone's art! I don't say I am always right. It happened that I totally missed someone's work the first time and asked myself: why didn't I feature this artist? So I make mistakes but I don't remember having many bad surprises. Just one artist who made some harsh critics towards the feminist movement. I was a bit surprised but I could sense it was just bitterness. Most of the artists want recognition and fame too hard. It’s so wrong to be doing art for such a shallow reason.

© Laurence Philomene

Was there any specific event or happening that sparked the idea of a feminist platform for artists?

Well it is more than a feminist platform actually. It's about diversity, gender equality, and giving a voice to artists and especially under-represented artists. One of my favourite artists is Laurence Philomene, she works a lot with non-binary individuals. Her work is very inspiring and quite representative of the platform. By the way, my next show/event will present her work at Cogalleries in May. So, so excited!! And Laurence is coming all the way from Canada for this occasion.

Your publicity grew very fast over the last few months. Did you just put a lot of effort into spreading the word or do you think this is because people in general seem to be more open and aware of this topic currently? How did you establish Curated by Girls in the overwhelming world of online magazines?

It is a lot of work to feature artists and organize exhibitions. I have been working like crazy since a year, on Curated by GIRLS. But I have to say that the word spread pretty much by itself. Dazed talked about the platform immediately when it started. And then we got some of the best magazines to talk about the project. I think the subject of gender identity, feminism and diversity is really contemporary. We are conscious that our world cannot go on like it is much longer! Violence, over profit, waste, hate, are stupid. It's an endless subject and art is a feel good way of expressing and communicating these issues. It can cure lost souls that are still not open to the difference.

From left to right © Joanna Catherine Schroder, Elsa Kostic, Julia Berezina, Jasdeep

We read a few times now that you aim to create a new, more realistic vision of humanity. How does this vision look like?

Well, it looks like the patchwork you find on CBG. Humanity is a beautiful and diverse patchwork! All bodies are good bodies. We are tired of this vision of a world where everybody is a stereotype, skinny people with a successful career who live happily ever after… It is bullshit ! Plus, it's a mistake to believe it makes you happy to be “this” or “that”! It's a wrong idea of what happiness is. It is not to possess things, or to nourish your ego. I actually can’t stand artists with too much ego or too self-centered ! It makes their art way less interesting to me.

Do you think art has enough influence on our society to make it a better one?

Unfortunately, it has not enough power for a simple reason: many "artists" are "artists" for the wrong reasons, for fame and money! So it can be as beautiful as it can be but if not sincere, it becomes just a vulgar product. But of course a few artists are honestly dedicated to share true stories that are very touching and helpful for society.

From left to right © Andrea Granera, Daantje Bons, Shannon May Powell, Margherita Loba, Giulia Boggio, SASHA, Justine Olivia Tellier, Andrea D'Auria

Creation is always based on the background and the world of the artist. We cannot completely change our view and understanding and see the world from the opposite gender’s perspective, simply because we never experienced it. While looking at so many artworks of men and women, did you notice typical differences in their works or did you find that art can be totally independent from the gender of the artist?

It's true that the background (education, culture, etc..) plays big part of an artist's work and often determines what art is gonna look like. But, it is not true that we cannot be whoever we want to be! We need to free ourselves from all the wrong ideas we have of how things should be. Many people seek to find “certainty”, but this concept is clearly against “life”. I believe we are all the same, no matter the gender, sexuality or culture. We can free ourselves from the clichés we have been taught. I would say that I have noticed, in the artworks I feature, that art from women is often more crude & honest. Maybe because they are convinced they have a fight to fight. Men tend to show more sweetness, embellished aesthetics! But this is a general statement. It would be like saying all men are machos or all women are weak. It is not the case! I believe we are all partly women and men.

From left to right © Ana Bathe, Anastasia Cazabon, KatToronto, Annique Delphine

Are you showcasing a range of artworks that you personally like, or do you showcase art that is in need of a platform?

I do show both. I don't like all the artworks i showcase with the same intensity, but I would not publish some work that I'm not touched by just to be trendy. Definitely not.

Our society is fighting for gender equality since decades. Do you think we will reach the goal at some point? What is it that still keeps us from treating people regardless of their gender, nationality and background?

I think there will be a point where it will be accepted! But accepted doesn't mean “problem solved”. Imagine that not long ago black people were not allowed to sit next to white people! INSANE! Or women couldn't vote. And if you go deeper in human history there are many horrific facts! It's a very controversial subject, there are arguments saying humanity is bad (easy) and some saying it's society's fault. Well, I guess society has a big responsibility. If we're totally honest, we should agree that our society is profoundly sick!

There are so many examples, I could write a book about it. It starts with sadness: Most people are unhappy. It’s not because you are wealthy that you are happy! Everyone is concerned with this sadness problem. Why? Because we are very selfish little creatures. Because we don't connect to each other and we honestly could. But we are self centered, jealous, envious, dishonest, hypocrite, and people fear the difference.

From left to right © Maria Torres, Tanya Teibtner, Annelies Hofmeyr, Julia De La Torre, Jacqueline Secor, Nikki Pecasso, Nicole Ida Fossi

When you say to someone that women are not inferior to men, most people would possibly agree by now. The problem is also that the society is being sexist without even noticing all the small sexist decisions that are being taken. How can we raise awareness for those little things?

I guess we have to look around, open our eyes, and stop thinking the world turns around us! The world is also “he, she, they”. If you are open-minded it becomes obvious that the society we live in is sexist. If you don’t see it, it’s probably because you are too focused on your own condition. I guess platforms like CBG help to educate people to be more aware of what’s going on around them.

How does your work as a curator influence your own art?

Curating helped me understand the relationship with others, that it is really important. Before being a curator I had difficulties relating to the outside world. I felt very lonely and trapped in my own existence. I was overwhelmed by the pressure of trying to be successful. Now I know how creative the world is and how immense my creativity can be. I recently started working on my music again, and I do it completely differently, as I don’t focus on the result but actually on enjoying the creative process. The name of my project is kinda emblematic FREE FREE DOM DOM.

From left to right © Miriam Marlene Waldner, Eva Zar, Brandy Eve Allen, Emily Stein, Shae DeTar, Clemence Losfeld

Do you sometimes find yourself overwhelmed by having too many ideas and visions to realize them all? How do you cope with the overflow of possibilities in our digital age?

It is a great sensation to be overflown by ideas and I know how lucky I am to be creative. But ideas are just ideas. I mean if you don't work them out, they will only remain ideas. Time is my enemy, really.

You are working not only online but also organize exhibitions and events featuring the artists you support. What is the role of real-life-exhibitions in times of online magazines and showcases?

Online is definitely not enough. People need to see the art to relate to it, they need to confront each other, to meet! I mean, we are a socialized species, we can't be just sitting in front of a computer, or hiding behind a cell phone! We are trying to make the experience of exhibition, a real experience, mixing visual art, music, drinks, food. And we did pretty well with the first 4 editions. But it's not enough, I want to make it evolve even more.

What are the three most important things you learned since the launch of Curated by Girls?

1) There are so many creative artists out there and they are not necessarily the most known ones.
2) Thanks to curating, I have less limits in my own creativity.
3) I noticed People are curious, interested in discovering new things. I guess there is hope for humanity.

From left to right © Rosaline Shahnavaz, Joseph Wolfgang Ohlert, Leah Schrager, Joanna Szproch, Nadine Schwickart-Some

If society was a person and you could ask her (let’s assume she’d be a badass superwoman) a question, what would it be?

WTF are you waiting to make a change and be sweet and generous to your kids?

How do you see the future of Curated by Girls?

I wish it can keep evolving as it is, and gain even more recognition, so that the artists featured benefit from even more exposure and get the attention they deserve. I would like CBG to be known as one of the best platforms to discover new art. :)

And last but not least: how can we be freer in Berlin?

We can be freer in Berlin but I guess we can be freer wherever we are! It's up to us individuals. We need to unlearn most of the lessons we've been taught, like "a successful life is a successful career". Of course there are some countries that are still very far from freedom, and this is insane.

Berlin is a very different city from the rest of the occidental capitals. It's more creative simply because there's less money here. Life is cheaper, even if it tends to change. It makes a difference when you want to develop a creative project. Creativity doesn't belong to the richest! Rich cities are actually less creative I believe.


Stay tuned on all things happening on Curated by Girls and follow their Website and their Instagram Feed. Wanna know more about what's going on in Laetitia's world? Follow her Instagram Feed and listen to her wonderful tunes on Soundcloud!

written by jennifer_pos on 2017-04-12 #culture #people

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