Visual arts

Hélène Nguyen-Ban, President of the Franco-British Fluxus Art Projects Fund

We support contemporary artists from the French scene in the UK and the British scene in France.

Hélène Nguyen-Ban is the new President of Fluxus Art Projects, a Franco-British fund supporting the creation and dissemination of contemporary art on both sides of the Channel. Created in 2010 by the Institut français in the UK, Fluxus is supported by the Institut français, the Ministry of Culture, the Ministry of Europe and Foreign Affairs and the British Council, among other partners. Six months after taking over its direction, Hélène Nguyen-Ban talks to us about this organisation that supports artists, in particular emerging artists, and curators in their international careers. 

Updated on 03/04/2023

5 min

Hélène Nguyen-Ban
© DR

Could we take a quick look back at your career? What is your background in the contemporary art world? 

I started my career in the luxury sector, at LVMH, where I launched Louis Vuitton Ready-to-Wear by Marc Jacobs. When I left the company after nearly ten years, I returned to the Ecole du Louvre, where I studied art history for three years. I already had the idea to launch a project, which I did by creating an art gallery that I managed for a few years before selling it to an American gallery. This was just before the first lockdown, which corresponded to a shift in the art world towards a digital environment. Since my time at LVMH, I had always had the intuition that we should develop a tool capable of filtering the contemporary art world and discovering artists. The Covid-19 crisis was therefore an ideal opportunity to launch this project, which is called Docent and functions as a sort of Spotify for contemporary art. So I teamed up with a researcher and professor of mathematics at the École Polytechnique, who put together a team of data-scientists and machine-learning engineers, while I brought together art historians and market specialists. We were thus able to sculpt an online space for discovering and buying contemporary art, in partnership with the galleries that are now setting the direction of the market. At the same time, it is also important for me to get involved in philanthropic missions, always with the same objective, which is to help the emerging or less visible scenes. Hence my involvement in the Tate International Circle, in the Cercle International -Asie-Pacifique at the Centre Pompidou, in the jury of the AWARE (Archives of Women Artists, Research and Exhibitions) prize awarded to women artists, and of course in Fluxus, of which I am President. 


Having taken over in 2022, could you explain to us how Fluxus works? What are the objectives of the organisation? 

Fluxus is a not-for-profit organisation that was set up in 2010 by the Institut français in the UK, with the aim of supporting contemporary art through grants allocated to curatorial projects on both sides of the Channel. Fluxus is built on a public-private model and benefits from the support of public partners in France (the Institut français, the Ministry of Culture, and the Ministry of Europe and Foreign Affairs) and the UK (the British Council and the four UK cultural funding agencies), as well as several private patrons. Fluxus has set up two programmes. The first, based on two annual calls for projects, supports exhibitions and curators, with grants allocated between €2,000 and €10,000. The second programme, Magnetic, accessible via a call for applications each summer, is the first Franco-British artist residency programme. 

Fluxus se donne comme mission de construire un pont entre les scènes françaises et britanniques, mais aussi d’offrir aux artistes une visibilité internationale.

Could you present this new residency programme launched in spring 2022? 

Magnetic is a long-term, structural cooperation programme. For the first edition, eight artists have been selected for a residency in eight leading decentralised institutions. Societal and environmental issues are at the heart of the programme: each artist works according to the specific context of each residency. The artists receive a minimum monthly stipend of €2,500, a studio, accommodation, curatorial support and personalised contact with the partner country's artistic networks. 


What is the profile of candidates likely to apply for your various programmes? 

We support contemporary artists from the French scene in the UK and the British scene in France. The winning projects must reflect the values of Fluxus: high artistic standards, an experimental dimension and sensitivity to societal and environmental issues. The artistic committee is attentive to parity and diversity, to the different scales of institutions, and to varying levels of territorial anchorage, in capital cities as well as in decentralised contexts. 


How does your work relate to French and British art institutions?

The projects we work on are presented in various venues: artist-run spaces, art centres, museums, festivals, biennials, etc. In 2022, for example, we worked with the Serpentine Galleries for Barbara Chase-Riboud's exhibition in London, which is still ongoing, or venues such as Tramway in Glasgow, and Fact in Liverpool - for Joséfa Ntjam's exhibition. Recently in France, we supported Goswell Road, an artist-run space in Paris, for a solo show by David Hoyle, and the Lyon Biennale, which presented many works by emerging artists. We will also support Jeremy Deller's first major exhibition in France at the FRAC Bretagne. In just over ten years, Fluxus has become a very well-recognised mechanism, which has supported two hundred and fifty international institutions and over five hundred French and British artists. 


What are the links between the British and French scenes?

Fluxus' mission is to build a bridge between the French and British scenes, but also to offer artists international visibility. This work is all the more important and inspiring at a time when the Brexit is still on everyone's mind. I think everyone has understood that artists and art scenes are the best way to build solid bonds between countries. The French and British scenes are currently rather prescriptive, which is why Fluxus encourages circulation from one country to another. After Brexit, organising an exhibition abroad or even simply obtaining a visa can be far more complicated than before. 

L'institut français, LAB