Clément Thibault (Le Cube Garges) presents ISEA, the annual global meeting place for digital creation
Updated on 11/05/2023
You are currently an exhibition curator and art critic and director of visual and digital arts at Le Cube Garges. Could you tell us about your background?
Clément Thibault: I have a dual background in art history and cultural management, but I soon turned my focus to art criticism and curating. I have taught, curated some fifteen exhibitions, and worked on twenty catalogues or monographs of artists such as Hervé Di Rosa, Pascal Convert, Albertine Meunier and Wahib Chehata. I have had several roles at Le Cube over the past three years: managing the successive lockdowns, organising the twentieth anniversary of the centre, setting up Le Cube Garges, and finally preparing the International Symposium on Electronic Arts 2023 (ISEA2023), for which I am acting as artistic coordinator. Recently, I was also appointed to the UNESCO Advisory Committee for Works of Art to assist the curator of its collection in drafting the scientific and cultural project on preventive conservation issues and its digital strategy. I am also continuing my activity as an independent curator, for example with the exhibition by Kim KototamaLune and her collective, which will run from 12 May to 3 September at the museums of Soissons.
Le Cube Garges is a cultural innovation centre that opened in January in Garges-lès-Gonesse. It follows on from Le Cube, created in 2001 in Issy-Les-Moulineaux, and aims to raise public awareness of digital cultures. How would you present the centre? Can you tell us about the facilities?
Clément Thibault: Le Cube project was born with Art 3000, an association created at the end of the 1980s concerned with digital usage. In 2001, this association held the first ISEA, with the theme "Revelations". This project led to the creation of Le Cube, which continued and provided a home for these activities. At the beginning of 2023, Le Cube established itself in Garges-lès-Gonesse to become Le Cube Garges, a centre for cultural innovation that tries to think in a new way about the relationship between works and the public. Garges-lès-Gonesse is a very impressive and lively town, with almost forty languages spoken, sixty different nationalities and a very intense community life. The positioning of Le Cube Garges will therefore be to invest the digital world with alternative possibilities, taking advantage of the digital arts to change our discourse and positions on the future. We will explore the notion of "cultural rights", which is part of the legal framework of Human Rights, and which corresponds to the idea of recognising the right of each person to participate in cultural life, to express his or her own culture, references and differences. This notion will be at the heart of our method.
As far as facilities are concerned, we have an exhibition and reception hall, a stage with a capacity of 600 people, a 250-seat auditorium, a cinema, the fablab, studio rooms, a conservatory, dance and recording studios, a media library, etc. For us, the challenge will be to bring together all of these different components around three main pillars: creating synergies between the activities, so that the public can experience different elements during the same visit; inviting the people of Garges to participate in the cultural life of the town, by supporting their initiatives as much as possible; and finally, becoming a place of research and creation, in partnership with other institutions and in an eco-responsible way.
This year, Le Cube Garges is co-organising ISEA2023, an international symposium dedicated to the digital arts, which will take place from 16 to 21 May 2023 in Paris, at the Forum des Images and in satellite venues in France. You are the artistic coordinator of this event, which is being held in France for the first time in over 20 years. What are the challenges?
Clément Thibault: ISEA is a major event in the international digital art scene, which is held in a different city each year following a call for projects. The programme includes both an academic programme and an artistic programme. After Montreal and Barcelona, it will take place this year in Paris, and will be co-organised by Le Cube Garges, as executive producer, the École des Arts Décoratifs, as academic director, and the Forum des Images, which will host the symposium. One of the challenges of ISEA is to make it a place for interdisciplinary dialogue between art, design and science, and to bring together different stakeholders who do not meet elsewhere. The second challenge is to propose a programme through a call for projects, notably for its academic side, with a double-blind review (the author of an article is evaluated anonymously by an anonymous reviewer), carried out by a team of nearly 80 international jurors. We received nearly 1,400 applications from seventy countries across all five continents. Finally, the third point is the search for hybridity, with physical programming, but also an online component, with many live recordings, broadcasts and translations. We are also going to set up an enhanced catalogue, in the form of an immersive online portal, which will present artists' projects. Finally, the last aspect concerns the capacity of such an event to imagine new structures of society, possible futures, and to encourage the emergence of collective dynamics in the long term.
In order to explore the changes under way and imagine possible futures for our societies, this year's theme will be the notion of Symbiosis. Can you tell us more about it?
Clément Thibault: This theme is polysemous enough to serve as a banner for such an important and eclectic event. It fits well with the imperative to take a new approach to life, the environment, and social resilience. It is also a question of drawing inspiration from the living to think about new models of society, by questioning anthropocentrism. This is a notion that we have also adopted as a methodology, at the scale of the symposium, in the interests of transdisciplinarity and intersectionality. It will be addressed through fifteen thematic clusters, devoted to bio-art, inter-species communication, alternative cosmologies, micro-organisms, etc.
Le Cube Garges is the main partner for Focus Arts Numériques, organised in May by the Institut français. On this occasion, professionals invited by the French cultural network abroad will come to Paris to participate in ISEA2023 and discover the French scene, with the aim of encouraging the dissemination of French artistic creations and developing international partnerships. Can you tell us more about this programme? What international development prospects do you envisage for Le Cube Garges?
Clément Thibault: This Focus is a great opportunity for us to invite twenty curators to the ISEA, to participate in the symposium of course, but also to discover the diversity of cultural life in Île-de-France. We have devised a programme of exhibitions, performances, and studio visits with the Institut français that will give an overall view of the French cultural ecosystem, particularly as regards the digital arts.
Beyond that, I consider that a cultural centre like Le Cube Garges by definition combines different geographical strata, and we have many projects in this respect, notably in the exploration of emerging art. But unfortunately they remain in their infancy.
Most popular within the same topic