Laetitia Duveau says she became a curator by accident. Six months ago, her friend Ophélie Rondeau, a photographer, reached out to her and asked if she wanted to get involved in a project—a new art collective that would focus on celebrating female empowerment, and serve as a platform for a wide variety of voices. Oh and, (spoiler alert) it would indeed be curated by girls.
Duveau had just moved to Berlin looking for a fresh start and in search of a new source of creativity after spending five years in Paris, and the opportunity with Curated by GIRLS seemed to come at the right time. As the singer-songwriter of the duo Free Free Dom Dom, Duveau embraced the challenge of curating with no prior experience, especially since Rondeau has since left the collective to focus on her own art.
With two exhibitions down (one in October and another last week), the collective is ready to take it to the next level. We chatted with Duveau about her creative journey, her take on feminism, and what she envisions next for the art world.
How did Curated by GIRLS start?
It started as a friendly collaboration between myself and Ophélie with the idea to build a female-curated art collective that would be all-inclusive and focus on male, female, and non-gender binary work equally. The main goal was to share art and get different people and communities heard. We were looking for established or emerging artists, of any gender, ethnicity, and generation. When Ophélie had to quit to focus on her own work, I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to do it on my own, but it felt important not to give up.
How do artists join the collective?
Now I receive a lot of submissions, and I take the time to look at everything. Social media plays a big role—I discover lots of artists through Instagram. I’m always open to what’s around me, so I look for artists on other platforms in magazines or at exhibitions I attend. I am amazed by the enthusiasm around the project. I have received so many positive responses since the beginning, which is very encouraging. I am very proud of all the artists featured so far, like Miriam Marlene Waldner, Brandy Eve Allen, Elsa Kostic, Pol Kurucz, Eylül Aslan, Dafy Hagai… so many talents!
Describe Curated by GIRLS in three words.
Art, Love, Diversity.
Image by Pol Kurucz.
What makes Curated by GIRLS different than other art collectives?
Since my background is in music, I believe I have a fresh perspective that makes Curated by GIRLS original. I work instinctively and follow my gut and taste. I have my own vision of art and life, and this is a space where everyone can have a voice because we celebrate diversity, equality, and freedom.
How would you characterize the art scene in Berlin?
Berlin is very diverse and dense, which makes it a very creative city. And the beauty of this place is its people—they support art, and flock to exhibitions. They are critical and honest, but they truly love art and the message behind it. There’s less of a focus on money, so people are more concerned with exploring, creating, and discussing what matters, rather tan focusing on achieving fame.
What's the hardest part about putting on a show?
My first show was really stressful—it was two months of sweat, tears, and intense work. It was exhausting but exciting. I had 26 artists featured at the first show from around the world, each telling their own story about new femininity. That show included 50 works, and the event was successful. I’m proud of my artists and wanted to give them a great show.
What is the most out-of-the-box work you've ever encountered?
Pixy Liao has an ongoing project called “Experimental Relationship,” which challenges the conventional ideas of relationship roles and deconstructs China's strict gender roles in a humorous way. I also have a special affection for Laurence Philomene's very colorful work. Laurence refers [to themself] as non-binary, and [their] photos explore gender identities, giving a voice to other non-binary individuals, especially marginalized people like trans women of color.
What is your biggest source of inspiration?
Every day is inspiring to me. Six months ago, I was just a musician—curating has helped me open my eyes and ears even more. Being open to what’s around me gives me great energy. I will also add, I am a big fan of M.I.A. I love her music and her spirit. She speaks her mind and is very concerned about what’s happening around her, like the refugee crisis or cultural tolerance. She is actively trying to make the world a better place, and I admire that.
Most of traditional art history centers on white, cis men. How do you hope that art will change over the next few decades and how will Curated by GIRLS help facilitate that?
Art has always evolved faster than society, and it will continue to do that. Curated by GIRLS really does focus on artists whose works represent a diverse set of experiences. The theme of our first show was focused on femininity, and we had so many different voices share what that means to them. We should be paying attention to art from everywhere. Most art we know is made by people who have lots of resources, but I believe that a rebirth of art comes from struggle. I believe there is so much creative talent in Africa—we should pay more attention to their art.
Image by Scarlett Carlos Clarke.
In your own words, how would you define feminism?
To me, feminism is all about respect, love, and equality. Women are obviously human beings and should be treated with respect as human beings. It's as simple as that.
What would you say to someone who would hesitate to identify as a feminist?
You don't have to call yourself something to be it. Everyone should be a feminist if feminism is about equality.
How would you describe your personal style?
To me, fashion is a fun way to express my mood and myself. I don’t really like labels—sometimes I’m colorful, sometimes I’m dark. I was a unicorn in France with pink hair, but here in Berlin, colored hair is the norm. Winter is coming and, I am this Kawaii Berliner, wearing mainly black with high socks and platform Dr. Martens. My style is very free.
What is your favorite part of Curated by GIRLS?
I love discovering new art—it’s addictive! I also am enjoying the exhibitions. When I see works up on a wall, it’s such a good feeling, and you get to meet so many people.