KubaParis in the interview with Jeanne Graff

On the occasion of The Swiss Art Awards 2016 we asked Jeanne Graff, independent curator, writer and applicant in the field of mediation of art and architecture, about her project 186f Kepler, the nomadic way of life and her artistic agenda. It’s all about creating a context where the artists and the audience feel good.

KubaParis/Amelie gr. Darrelmann
You are a curator and founder of the nomadic space and project 186f Kepler. Showing works by artists such as Mai-Thu Perret, John Armleder, Tobias Madison, Anne Imhof and Emanuel Rossetti, 186f Kepler takes over various kind of spaces – a desacralised church, a restaurant or a white cube for example. What appeals to you about temporarily occupying specific places and locations? How do you find those places?

Jeanne Graff
As I wrote with the architect Sony Devabhaktuni “In some ways the exhibition space or the fair stall is already somewhat dislocated from the city in which it exists and is linked more to past present and future incarnations of itself in other points throughout the world. Those spaces linked together create a new kind of virtuality that could be understood as a continuous interiority where one loses track of time and space. What link these spaces together are maybe the names by which we call them and perhaps also the people that we meet within them: People who might work there or are passing through those places in the same rhythm as we do. So does 186f Kepler seek to reproduce this kind of existence and its undefined borders in a more self-conscious way?” 186f Kepler is an art space without walls.

KubaParis
How do you select the different artists and how does your curatorial way of working look like?

Jeanne Graff
I have been working with all these artists for a long time, and I’m involved with them in ongoing conversations. One important point is that artists, like Isabelle Cornaro, Ericka Beckman and Anne Imhof for example, share a specific approach to temporality and to performance. On the other hand John Armleder and Sylvère Lotringer both work on the extended field of cultures as artist and theoreticians, historical structures like ECART and SEMIOTEXT(E) continue to be important reference points to me. I don’t plan and plot. My way of working is quite organic and happens through encounters and conversations. I met Juliana Huxtable at 11:11 a club on Essex Street three years ago, she wasn’t an artist at that time but we immediately got along. I was interested in her practice as a DJ and her writing. When she told me she was starting to do performances and photography I therefore immediately trusted her and invited her to do a show at Vhhhzzzz in Basel last year. Since then we had collaborated quite expensively including on a novel that I hope to release this year. In the end, it’s about telling a certain sensibility and enjoying working together. I hope this comes through.

KubaParis
What kind of challenges are you facing with the occupation of those locations as the church and the nomadic concept?

Jeanne Graff
The church has such an amazing acoustic, and its baroque architecture and wall painting by Fratelli Campi made all the artists very enthusiastic.

KubaParis
This year’s edition of the Swiss Art Awards got the graphic and thematic superstructure of „migration“. You are living in Lausanne and New York. You are moving with 186f Kepler from Milan to Paris, Basel to New York etc. What does the term „migration“ mean to you and how does the topic influence your application?

Jeanne Graff
Living in Switzerland influenced me a lot in the sense that it’s a country where you often travel between cities, which makes the idea of borders a bit unclear and more and more irrelevant.

KubaParis
What role does an artist or mediator get in times of refugees policy?

Jeanne Graff
I’m a bit weary of straight forward political act. As a private person however, there are many roles to play in the current crisis, but I’m a not sure a space like 186f Kepler is the best position to talk about these serious issues.

KubaParis
You are working as an author as well. What are your major topics?

Jeanne Graff
The novel which I initiated two years ago and I’ m about to finish, is linked to my practice as a curator. It is a travelogue of sort and includes the artists and the people that I’m working with. It is a way to merge my life and my exhibitions together, among other things.

KubaParis
It sounds exciting. A contemporary document. This reminds me of the book L’Œuvre by Émile Zola but at another time and not as dark as in the novel by Zola. I am excited about it and looking forward to read it.
What are upcoming or current projects that you are working on?

Jeanne Graff
I will do Kepler’s bar-restaurant Vhhhhjjjjzzz during Art Basel again this year. It will sport all the neon signs that Mai-Thu Perret has made for Kepler over the year, daily film screenings, and works by Juliana Huxtable which we produced during a recent trip to China. Then a concert and poetry reading by Genesis P-Orridge and Ryan Gander will be held in the church in Milan, followed by a record including Stefan Tcherepnin’s music and a song by Anne Imhof. There are also plans to travel with Marie Karlberg for researches, but I’m not sure what will come out of that just now.

KubaParis
Thank you for your time and we wish you success and lots of fun in Basel!

 

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John Armleder, Early Events, 1967-2015, 186f Kepler

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Stefan Tcherepnin, Critical Angels, 2015, 186f Kepler

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Jeanne Graff, portrait by Juliana Huxtable, 2015