The Mediterranean and Paris, two words which are opposites but which, unusually, will come together from 7 to 10 June at 2, Galerie Vivienne. Behind this sleight of hand are Johanna Colombatti and Graziella Semerciyan, founders of the online gallery Lebensformen. Méditerranée is the name of their next exhibition, presented on this occasion at the gallery of designer friend Pierre Gonalons. A theme chosen to evoke a part of their considerable and shared taste for all the imagery that it evokes. Because if Lebensformen is developing a year-round online selection called La Galerie des Possibles, the two former curators also offer, every two months, an exhibition curated by them in which they blend works and scenography created by a contemporary artist. Before Méditerranée, there was Mélancolie, on the impermanence of being, and also Motifs, Rythmes et Couleurs, deployed in situ before joining the “cultural review” area the young women wanted. A richly detailed content, structured along three axes: a portrait of the chosen designer in the form of a Proust questionnaire, a meeting-event and an interactive library. To put into context the online art trade by providing key reading materials – essential to the dimensions of ownership and sharing – isn’t this what was ultimately missing in the current offer to bring together a real community? The continuation of the Lebensformen adventure will tell us.
Méditerranée, the Lebensformen exhibition at Galerie Pierre Gonalons – 2, Galerie Vivienne, 75002 Paris. Thursday 7 to Sunday 10 June
Johanna, Graziella: who are you? Can you introduce yourselves?
We have just established the Lebensformen online gallery where we have chosen to present objects and works of art selected according to themes that appeal deeply to us. The impetus for this project was linked to our long and varied participation at art market venues as auctioneers. We met in the Italian design department at Piasa and before that we had each worked in different auction houses.
Tell us about Lebensformen. What is it? What we find there?
Lebensformen is a platform at the crossroads between an online art gallery and a cultural magazine. We started from the idea that the online art trade often lacked context and we wanted to mix different art forms to which we are sensitive (literature, cinema, photography, fashion) to resonate with the objects that we sell. It is a question of calling together all periods and all disciplines, to highlight their mutual influences through the presentation of an object that is offered for sale. To go further with this concept, we have also set up an online bookshop both books and films which inspire us and whose theme echoes our objects. We therefore find pieces that have been carefully sourced, and a choice of books and DVDs, content and events since we also organise meetings!
Lebensformen is part of a global approach aimed at giving meaning to what we undertake so that the public can find interesting things there on a daily basis.
How do you organise your different sales?
On the one hand, we present objects in the Galerie des Possibles, which is a sort of general shop for our latest finds. On the other, every two months we also organise a curated exhibition in which we invite an artist to display our selection of art objects and to create works which echo ours.
This temporary exhibition also has three other aspects that enrich the exhibit, since we publish a portrait of the artist in the form of a Proust questionnaire, a meeting-event (museum visit, workshop, gallery, conference etc.) and a library. Once the two-month period has passed, the exhibition makes room for the next one, but remains available in the archives and can, therefore, be consulted at any time.
How does the idea for a particular theme come to you?
Each theme is the fruit of a mature reflection linked to our personal thoughts on a subject to which we return continually and which would be likely to produce meaning by bringing together objects which evoke it. It is a bias by which we choose to enhance the qualities of a piece. And it also happens that after having accumulated a certain number of objects, the theme reveals itself. So we write a text together that gives a kind of context to build what will become a whole.
It goes beyond an object, and it is there that the expression Lebensformen (meaning forms of life) holds all its meaning for us, it is the possibility of thinking about singularity through a way of life involving the accumulation of collectable objects and artistic experiences. The themes also arise quite naturally, as a result of a piece we have bought, or it could be a play that we have attended, a film that we have seen or a piece of music we have listened to.
The piece to grab at the next sale?
The next exhibition is entitled Méditerranée, and it is an opportunity to present a part of our somewhat immoderate and shared taste for all the imagery that the term evokes. In this context, we will present an exceptional enamelled faience floor lamp by Georges Pelletier who has been active on the Côte d’Azur since the 1960s; such large models from this period are rare.
Lebensformen (...) holds all its meaning for us, it is the possibility of thinking about singularity through a way of life involving the accumulation of collectable objects and artistic experiences.
References, portraits, articles: the Lebensformen website provides us with real content. Why?
Our concern is to make the relationship with art objects interesting for someone who arrives on the website whether it is with or without the intention to purchase. The fact of documenting and appraising a piece can be shared as soon as we are ready to explain the fruits of our research. It is a virtual location which aspires to be the sort of place where one accidentally crosses the paths of new people and new projects. Even if one theme is not likely to interest a visitor, the next one may. And through collaboration, links are forged, and a coherent whole appears.
The dimension of sharing was, indeed, essential for us and we felt the imperative to be able to offer various modes of access to the objects to the public. It is about acquisition, since it is a commercial platform but also about the knowledge of a piece, as we tell its story. That everyone, collector or enthusiast can find something of interest and the spend some time on Lebensformen. It was also essential for us to be able to connect up objects with contemporary creation and invite a contemporary artist to look at our objects, which we do at each exhibition.
Besides, is Lebensformen destined to remain only an online gallery?
Lebensformen is a gallery whose primary aim in life was to exist online for the presentation of objects and contextualised works of art. Beyond this approach, we seek to create links with personalities who are likely to have projects and interests close to ours in order to pool our strengths.
And then our dream would be eventually to open an artists’ residency, like a large real platform where everyone could exchange ideas on creation, a bit like those artists’ communities that abounded at the beginning of the 20th century!
What is coming next?
Photography: Eve Campestrini – Text: Caroline Balvay – Translation: TextMaster @thesocialitefamily