You are the first photographer to assume the role of artistic director of Photoquai. What are the advantages and disadvantages of this post?
Françoise HuguierThe advantages:
– First of all the technical advantages: control of the scans, of the prints, and of the printing of the tarpaulins. An enormous job of more than 400 scans with Janvier laboratory, and the control of 150 tarpaulin prints at Pictorial.
– Editing: a priori the fact that I’m a photographer enables me to carry out scrupulous editing, and editing which makes sense. For example, for those photographers exhibited who are more photo journalists or documentary photographers, it’s important to do an editing which will be the quintessence of their work. I have tried to understand the sense of their approach and not to betray it.
– Given that in my work as a photographer, I have been attentive to the world and have travelled a lot, I knew which regions of the world have been very little explored, I also knew that choosing a subject was a pitfall and that what was important was that the photographers who are chosen speak to us of their society and of their preoccupations. It was equally important that I refused to be blocked on a style of photography, that have a preconceived idea. Of course some photographers appealed to me more than others because their work is closer to mine (Lek Kiatsirikajorn) and at the same time, some of them whose work is very different from mine delighted me too (Jim Allen Abel…)
– At the beginning I had some questions about my role as curator because my job is to be a photographer and film maker and not an art director. But gradually the excitement of the discovery began to take over. I have learned over the years not to only contemplate my navel.
– The commissioners presented photographers and series to me and for the final choice, I had to set aside the work of some photographers whose work was less coherent on the whole than I wished to show. Including some I liked.
What has been the process of selection and are you satisfied?
Françoise HuguierProcess of selection:
Commissioners and correspondents were named by me for the different regions of the world (Africa: Christine Eyene, the Maghreb and Gulf countries: Mouna Mekouar, Southeast Asia : Gilles Massot and Wubin Zhuang, China and Japan: Sylvie Rebbot, China: Zeng Nian, Cuba, Brazil, Cambodia: Christian Caujolle, Russia: Anna Shpakova, Australia and New Zealand : Céline Martin-Raget, Chili: Christine Barthe, India: Olivier Culmann). I also wanted to meet a certain number of photographers in Tanzania, Colombia, and Southeast Asia. It was important that I go there, not only to meet the photographers but also to learn more about the inspiration of non-Western artists: how do they live? What inspires them, how do they create, how are their photographs distributed…? I wanted the commissioners to suggest photographers who, whether emerging or not, had never been exhibited in France. Then I selected the artists from among their propositions, and in February 2011, we had a meeting at the quai Branly museum with the directors to make the final choice. For certain of the photographers I was unbending, but diplomatically. Once the final choice of 46 photographers was made, I worked with the production company APC and the graphic artist Nicolas Rouvière on the exhibition lay-out.
Françoise HuguierJulian Lineros (Colombia), Cuba, Hélèle Amouzou (Togo), the ants by Sameer Kermalli (Tanzania), Jamal Penjweny (Iraq), Mingyi Luo (China)
Françoise HuguierTo have to be limited to exhibiting only 46 photographers
What has been the greatest difficulty?
Françoise HuguierOf a technical nature: the weight of the scans which sometime limited us for the enlargement of the photos.
I would also have liked Africa to be more present but for that, more trips would have been needed. It is the key for having a good selection. Selecting through Internet is too limited, one can see only a very few photos, or even none at all. Lots of photographers send very few images and so the editing is very difficult.
Did you want to do certain things which were not possible?
Françoise HuguierAt the beginning we wanted to also show videos, but the scenography as it is actually didn’t really allow it. And a lot of artists do videos…
Would you be ready to undertake the experience of being a curator again?
Françoise HuguierYes, I would willingly go through the experience again, as long as it doesn’t take too much time away from my photographic work.
What are your immediate projects now?
Françoise HuguierThey are projects which thrill me and set me dreaming. I am in the process of working on my second documentary with Les films d’ici and I have a photographic project on Kuala Lumpur and Bangkok in prolongation of my work in Singapore, on the middle class in the two cities; and a project on Colombia which I’m preparing now.
Interview by Christian Caujolle