Interview with the founder of Curated by Girls Laetitia Duveau

The Frenchy musician moved to Berlin seven months ago, became a Curator “by accident”, and has already organized a successful exhibition showcasing 26 artists from around the world. Curated By Girls is the project co-founded by Laetitia Duveau and her former partner Ophelie Rondeau. The platform promotes visual artists, focusing on diversity, equality, and freedom.

The first exhibition in real life, “Freer In Berlin”, took place on October 8 & 9 at Blender & Co. The show presented 26 artists from around the globe, showcasing prints, photographs, and drawings that explored “Female empowerment” and “Beauty of freedom” of the internet age.

Cristina Benzi: What does Curated By Girls aim to represent?

Laetitia Duveau: The idea is to represent diversity, equality, and freedom. I want everyone to be represented on the platform. I don’t care about gender, age, fame, race, religion….what matters to me is the Art, its quality, its sincerity and its messages.    

CB: How did you organize the exhibition “Freer in Berlin”?

LD: It was two months of intensive work. I selected most of the Artists via the website and ended up with a lineup of 26 fabulous Artists. It was my first show, I learned everything from scratch, and I didn’t know what to expect! I was amazingly surprised by the positivity around it! I received a great feedback from the Press, I had a lot of interviews, it was quite interesting but exhausting at the same time. I learned a lot, and I understood that every detail is important!

CB: Why did you decide to exhibit at Blender and Co?

LD: I had met Caroline Fayette, the owner of Blender, a few months ago. I immediately  felt that we could make great things together. She is a professional photographer and she organizes many exhibitions there. I got seduced by the vibe of the space and its intimate feeling. Plus it is located in Neukolln, my favorite district, which it’s also where I live. This area is full of Artists and Art Lovers so I thought it made sense.

CB: Define the theme of the exhibition “New feminity”

LD: I wanted to represent a wider and more open-minded vision of feminity trough art, by showing various aspects of feminity, and that there is no typical feminity. Anyone can be feminine. We are all partly male partly female… so I tried to show this through photos of men as well. The result was a beautiful patchwork of softness and freedom. In fact, I chose this topic by the time I was choosing the artworks; this vision of feminity just struck me through the story told by the 26 artists selected.

CB: What do you mean when you say Freer in Berlin? do you think people that live in Berlin are freer than those how don’t?

LD: I came across an article by Keith Telfeyan on “I heart Berlin”  called “Arriving at the Berlin State Of mind”. In this article, Keith had put exact words on how I feel about Berlin and about the freedom we have in this city. Here there is no pressure for success, you can take your time to explore and get inspired. There is a very chill atmosphere you don’t find in other capital cities. Money isn’t everything! People like to discuss important matters and communicate strong messages through Art. You don’t have to become someone, you can easily meet people, collaborate on projects and create. It’s amazing. I had the chance to meet Keith and asked him if I could use his text on the zine I was working on for the exhibition and he said yes. So that’s how I decided to call the whole event “Freer in Berlin”.

CB: What has it meant curating this exhibition for you?

LD: It’s very inspiring to share other people’s work instead on focusing on your own career. Everyone should experience it. I learned a lot! This was my first exhibition ever, so I had to learn everything in a short period of time. When I say everything I mean it, from A to Z, everything. I had to deal with details you don’t think about really, like making sure the artists will send the prints in a tube otherwise they arrive completely damaged….Now I know!

The tough part was the hanging of the 50 pieces ! I had to do it the day before the show, and it was very stressful. I was lucky to have a few friends helping me!!! I couldn’t do it without them!

Organizing this event was a lot of sweat and tears, it was spontaneous, instinctive and also extremely inspiring and human!! I think people felt that when they came to the show!  

CB: I have read in other interviews you have done, your purpose is to reframe the image of women. How do you think the exhibition Freer in Berlin could help?

LD: Thanks to the story told by the 26 artists. As I said before there is not just one way to represent feminity, and I hope the visitors to the exhibition have seen another perspective, another vision of it. The purpose was to forget about the clichés we have been fed up with for so long.

CB: How many artworks were sold at the exhibition?

LD:  15 artworks were sold. To me, it is a very positive result, and I’m really happy for the Artists who sold. 

CB: I think it can be interesting if you tell us who inspired you to express this idea of new feminity? It could be anyone, an artist or someone else.

LD: There is not just one artist who inspired me. I have discovered so many talented artists since I started Curated By Girls. To me, it doesn’t matter whether they are famous or not, but what’s important is the idea they want to express through art.

I often talk about Laurence Philomene’s amazing work as it is totally representative of the concept of Freer In Berlin. As a queer woman photographing men, Philomene’s photography completely deconstructs and destabilizes power balances. By introducing men into the softness usually reserved for women, Laurence gets rid of the neutrality of masculinity and instead installs femme aesthetics as a new neutral. 

CB: What do you mean when you say feminity is inside all of us?

LD: We are not 100% male or female. Feminity shouldn’t be reserved to female exclusively. Men also can be feminine. It doesn’t matter the gender, some people develop their feminity more than others, while some will hide it or try to get rid of it. Men usually don’t want to show their feminine part, because they learned they had to be powerful, strong. I believe feminity is something that we all have inside.

CB: Even if it’s worth to fight for it, don’t you ever had the feeling that diversity and equality in the society is a bit idealized?

LD: We have a long way to go. We live in a society driven by power, ego, success, money, etc. But I’m a positive person. A lot of people are trying to fight for important matters for the future and we should all get together and support that. But of course, there is still a lot of work to do. There are still children starving and dying in the poor regions of the world and this is unbearable!

CB: After visiting the exhibition, we could realize that photography, illustrations, and paintings were the major art form to express the theme, why did you decide to show it so and not with another kind of visual art like performance or sculpture, for example?

LD: Curated By Girls is a platform that promotes visual Art so it was logic to explore photography, illustration or painting for this 1st IRL show. But maybe in future exhibitions, there will be other types of art, like performances for ex…. To me, the most important thing is that the Art expresses something powerful.

CB: How is the day by day of Curated by Girls?

LD: Usually my routine is to feature a new artist per day, catch up with the many emails and submissions I receive…go to appointments, prepare future features etc… then I also take the time to focus on my music. I am one-half of electronic project ‘Free Free Dom Dom’. We are planning to release a new mixtape soon.

CB: What is the future of Curated by Girls?

LD: I want to do a “Freer in Berlin” group show every season, and maybe more frequent events focusing on one Artist. Of course, the website will still be running, I wanna keep featuring one new artist every day. I’m also planning on opening an online shop, where people could still buy the artworks from the exhibition Freer in Berlin. I received many messages from people who couldn’t make it to the show, so they will have the opportunity to see the artworks online and maybe purchase some of them.

CB: Would you like to do “Freer in Berlin” outside Berlin?

LD: That would be amazing. But I haven’t planned anything yet.

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