Art & Photography / Who, What, Why

The Curator Moving Art Shows Around Paris’ Abandoned Spaces

Marie Madec tells the story behind Sans Titre, the nomadic project space celebrating emerging talent and established artists alike

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Courtesy of Sans Titre

Who? Marie Madec is a Paris-based curator who runs nomadic gallery and project space Sans Titre, which started from her own apartment a year and a half ago. “Since the project began, we’ve done about ten shows,” she explains over the phone. “I didn’t have a space in Paris becase real estate is so expensive there. So I felt as though doing something in my apartment was the easiest option.”

Madec studied History of Art at the prestigious Sorbonne, taking a year out to conduct research for her thesis at CalArts in the U.S. focusing on the history of that institution, which was founded by Walt Disney and his brother Roy in 1961. It was America’s first multidisciplinary university dedicated to the arts – which the Disneys envisaged to be a utopian establishment – and would go on to become a hotbed of countercultural activity (the likes of John Baldessari, Judy Chicago and Nam June Paik all studied there). Madec’s academic background is reflected in her interest in eschewing established methods of curation. “I just felt like working in a gallery was not what was good for me. I had to do my own thing,” she says.

What? Since graduating, Madec has staged exhibitions in different found locations around France – including an abandoned 19th-century mansion and empty science laboratory – inviting artists to respond to the unique architecture of the space on each occasion. “Sans Titre literally means ‘untitled’ in English, because when I started the project in my apartment a year ago I had everything: I had the art, the artists, but the only thing I didn’t have was a title,” she laughs. “So a week before the show, some friends and I came to a decision that if it was so hard to find a title, I should just not give it one – like so many works of art that people couldn’t find a title for. Also, I feel ‘untitled’ doesn’t really categorise us or the project space. We can be whatever we want at any time and any place.”

The most recent exhibition Sans Titre organised was a solo show displaying work by artist Robert Brambora. “I’ve been working with him a long time and the space we found looked so much like Robert actually built it – it was just made for him. So I knew we had to do a solo show there,” she says. The next will commence on November 9, 2017, an exhibition housed in a former restaurant where artists will be engaging members of the public in performative work centred around the act of eating. 

Why? “I feel the curator is – we have a word for this in French – a raconteur; a storyteller. There has to be something that’s understandable and accessible in what you do, and I feel that the best way to make people interested in something they’re not used to is to make it fun,” says Madec. She has an engaging and democratic vision for her exhibitions. “Most of the artists we work with are very young, too. Sometimes in their 30s and sometimes even under 25, some still in art school – which amazes me. Our aim is to shine a light on those who aren’t represented yet. We try to discover the talent of tomorrow.” Madec also works with an established list of artists, placing work by younger names amongst pieces by Claes Oldenburg, Jonathan Monk and Max Richter. As such, Sans Titre acts as a bridge between the conversations had between the artists of today and tomorrow, which can only serve to yield radical results. 

Sans Titre’s next exhibition opens November 9, 2017 at a secret Paris location. 

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