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Co-curator of “Daily Life Not So Simple” Françoise Docquiert: : On Emerging Artists in the French Art Scene

Towards the end of October, Seoul National University Museum of Art (SNUMoA) opened a long-anticipated exhibition titled “Daily Life Not So Simple.” This is the museum’s first international showcase since the outbreak of COVID-19 and displays the curated artworks of fourteen French and Korean contemporary artists. Evident from its name, “Daily Life Not So Simple” intends for its visitors to consider alternative ways of viewing the world and to fully realize the intricacies of people’s lives. Many featured artworks address global issues, including climate change, feminism, political instability, and the pandemic. Others investigate abstract concepts relating to the human experience, such as cultural identity, relationships, and memory. These universal themes and ideas are woven into the very fabric of our lives.

Lecture given on emerging artists in the french art scene
Lecture given on emerging artists in the french art scene

To kick off the official opening of “Daily Life Not So Simple”, co-curator Françoise Docquiert introduced ten emerging artists in the French art scene.

“Choosing just ten from thousands was no easy task,” Docquiert said. “With nearly fifty art schools in the nation and over a thousand annual graduates, there is an endless number of new and intriguing artists.”

A standout quality of Docquiert’s hand-picked selection was its diversity, featuring both fresh art school graduates and industry veterans. No two artists share similar techniques or approaches to the exhibition’s theme and most utilize a range of unorthodox materials to support their vision. For many, their vastly different cultural backgrounds are an additional source of inspiration. Long gone are the days of artists constraining themselves to a single label or medium. In this day and age, a painter can be equally recognized as a sculptor and videographer, and technology continues to open new doors for artistic creation.

Yet, no matter how dissimilar they seem, Docquiert’s artists are all united by a shared goal. They are devoted to expressing their unique perspectives on the complexities of life through their art.

Introduction to Nefeli Papdimouli: installation named Skinscapes
Introduction to Nefeli Papdimouli: installation named Skinscapes

Nefeli Papdimouli is one such artist. Originally from Athens, Greece, Papdimouli’s art draws inspiration from growing up in a time of grave economic crisis. Her creative process involves tearing apart old clothing into scraps and creating garments that viewers can try on. This is to demonstrate that things that are deemed worthless can always be repurposed to become something new and worthwhile. By encapsulating her audience in a full sensory experience, Papdimouli is able to engage them in deeply personal ideas of their relationship with time and space, others in society, and their own bodies.

Introduction to Bianca Bondi: installation named The Antechamber displayed at Busan Biennale 2020
Introduction to Bianca Bondi: installation named The Antechamber displayed at Busan Biennale 2020

Bianca Bondi takes on a rather alternative approach to the contemporary world. A signature of Bondi’s artistic process is putting everyday objects through chemical reactions. These objects are chosen for their inherent properties or “energy” and transformative potential. The result is elaborate 3D installations coated with salt crystals and draped in greenery. Through her ethereal creations, Bondi explores how ecology and the occult interact and contrast with our modern industrial world.

Introduction to Corentin Darré: viewers can step into the structure to view a 3-minute loop video
Introduction to Corentin Darré: viewers can step into the structure to view a 3-minute loop video

Corentin Darré is one of the more well-established artists introduced in Docquiert’s presentation. A master of the mixed-media approach, Darré’s installations combine sculpture with virtual photography and videography of cutting-edge 3D modeling. He composes fictional narratives through his virtual art and unveils our relationship with the digital world and with innate human qualities of love, sexuality, and violence.

Introduction to Emeric Lhuisset: A Hundred Hidden Faces photography series
Introduction to Emeric Lhuisset: A Hundred Hidden Faces photography series

Emeric Lhuisset is another artist that mainly works with digital art. He is lauded as an “artist historian” for his photographs that document real-life moments in history. His subject matter includes prolonged geopolitical conflicts in the Middle East, their effects on the people, landscape, and media, and the lives of refugees. One of his recent photojournalistic endeavors is a series of poignant portraits of the Ukrainian civil resistance. Titled A Hundred Hidden Faces, Lhuisset has photographed the backs of resistance fighters and has recorded each person’s response to questions of what they think and what they hope will happen next. His photographs highlight individual human experiences during crucial moments of history.

These are just some of the countless artists and their works that co-curator Françoise Docquiert delves into.

“Daily Life Not So Simple” ran from October 21 through November 27.

Written by Hee Seo Lee, SNU English Editor, heeseolee@snu.ac.kr
Reviewed by Professor Travis Smith, Department of Asian Languages and Civilizations, tlsmith@snu.ac.kr