From the 15th – 17th May 2014, the Outside In team travelled to Paris for the European Outsider Art Association’s annual conference. This year the theme was ‘Curating Outsider Art’ and included talks by Dr Thomas Roske of the Prinzhorn Collection and Martine Lusardy, the Curator at Halle Saint Pierre. (We also managed to fit in a quick trip to see Raymond Isidore’s Maison Picassiette in Chartres for good measure!)
We arrived in Paris on Thursday morning, before heading to the Galerie Christian Berst where we saw a great exhibition of work by Dan Miller who makes his art at Creative Growth in California. At 3pm, we hopped on the Metro to the Halle Saint Pierre (the venue for the conference and also currently home to Raw Vision Magazine‘s 25th anniversary exhibition) for an interest group discussion on collecting and exhibiting with regards to Outsider Art. This conversation created some buzzing discussion and raised the following questions:
1) Can members of the European Outsider Art Association make stronger links with one another to create the opportunity for more touring exhibitions?
2) Should we be looking more into displaying Outsider Art in ‘mainstream’ venues, and not just galleries; what about military museums or science museums where relevant?
3) What are collectors looking for when they acquire work for their collection?
Following this, we attended the Annual General Assembly, where Marc Steene (Executive Director of Pallant House Gallery and Founder of Outside In) was elected to the board of the European Association of Outsider Art – this is a fantastic opportunity for Outside In to become more involved in what is going on in Europe! After the Assembly, we listened to a talk from artist Ingeborg Luscher on an Outsider Art environment she stumbled across in a forest in Switzerland. Subsequently, Ingeborg has been present at many different exhibitions of the artist’s work, meaning we were able to compare the various ways in which it has been exhibited in different spaces.
On Friday, the main conference began. It started with an overview of the history of curating Outsider Art from Thomas Roske (Prinzhorn Collection), who ran us through several installation shots from the early twentieth century to the present day. Next, Dieter De Vlieghere from the University of Leuven, Belgium, read a paper entitled ‘Understanding Outsider Art as a Curatorial Concept.’
Following a quick coffee break, the Curator at Halle Saint Pierre, Martine Lusardy, and Editor of Raw Vision Magazine, John Maizels, spoke about Raw Vision’s 25th anniversary exhibition, which is currently on display at the gallery. We later had a tour of the exhibition from John and Martine, where we saw works by Adolf Wolfli, Henry Darger, Shinichi Sawada and many (many!) more.
Carine Fol (Centrale for Contemporary Art, Brussels) and Pierre Muylle (Liege) explained a project they had put together whilst working in Bruges when it was the European Capital of Culture in 2002. The project brought together Outsider Artists and ‘mainstream’ artists to live and work in a house for a week. The result was a site-specific exhibition created as a collaborative piece between all of the artists.
In the afternoon we enjoyed a great presentation from Jo Farb Hernandez (San Jose State University, California) on documenting and exhibiting environments. Jo has travelled all over the US and Spain to record these exceptional environments created by incredibly talented artists. Jo also spoke about her concerns regarding the term Outsider Art and gave some tips on how to accurately document these unique environments.
The final talk of the day was a very inspiring one from artists Simon McAuley and Julia Krause-Harder. The two artists were in conversation with Thomas Roske, discussing their feelings towards the term Outsider Art and how much control they like to have over the curatorial aspects of exhibitions of their work.
On Saturday, we travelled to Chartres from Paris to visit Raymond Isidore’s Maison Picassiette; a beautifully crafted mosaic environment. The whole piece had taken Isidore 24 years to finish – complete with a tomb, garden porch and chapel!
The conference was a really good opportunity to meet others working in the sector all across Europe, and provided some great ideas that we will be thinking about and discussing over the next few months. We will be writing more detailed reports of several of the presentations from the conference, so watch this space!
So bye from us for now – here we are enjoying the sunshine in front of the Sacre Coeur during our trip!
Presentations in focus:
For several of the talks, we have produced more in depth reports. Please use the links below to navigate through these.