fiac! opens this week (October 22-25), and as collectors, dealers, and art lovers make their way from London to Paris, Whitewall speaks with the fair’s director Jennifer Flay about what’s going on this year: the outdoor art program across a dozen of Paris’ cultural spots “Hors les Murs,” the second edition of the sister fair OFFICIELLE (October 21-15), and the newest program, Musées en Seine.
WHITEWALL: This year fiac! is introducing Musées on Seine, a museum waterway connecting the cultural institutions in Paris that are all quite close to the river. Can you tell us more about this program?
JENNIFER FLAY: Right from the start, when we came back into the center of Paris in 2006, I remember writing the catalogue then and thinking how our venues were aligned along the Seine – the Grand Palais, the Jardin des Tuileries, etc., and thought that was actually quite poetic. As things have developed with our Hors les Murs program over the years, it actually occurs that these venues are also lined up along the Seine. Last year when we developed OFFICIELLE at the Cité de la Mode et du Design, the building was also along the Seine.
Paris is a city full of major institutions and most of them are lined up along the Seine. So [we’ve organized a journey] from the East to the West in boats and stopping at these different destinations, seeing an incredible array of exhibitions at really important institutions. For me it’s sort of a new cartography for Paris, a new way of thinking of the city that makes so much sense.
WW: This will be the second year of OFFICIELLE, the official satellite fair to fiac! with more emerging galleries. What are your thoughts on how last year’s inaugural edition went and what are you looking forward to this year?
JF: I’m very excited about OFFICIELLE. It’s a platform that is extremely necessary. Fiac! is a beautiful fair but other fairs have more space than us, and I really want to nurture a younger generation. I want to open up the fair to scenes that have not been deeply explored. OFFICIELLE has 69 galleries from 17 different coutnries, which is a broad scope for such a young fair. We have galleries from Mexico, Germany, from U.A.E., and even from Tunisia (I’ve never in my 12 years in fiac! ever worked with a gallery from north Africa). I’m excited to see the propositions from younger galleries in the U.S. like Harmony Murphy or Chateau Shatto.
We’ve got a gallery from China, MadeIn, who is showing a very ambitions installation and a performance by Xu Zhen. It is what he calls the first cultural gym, done with all the positions and postures of worship and adoration that define religions. He made an alphabet them, there are over 200, and organized them into 10 sessions, from easy to hard. Every day he’ll do these cultural gym classes at the Cité de la Mode et du Design and all the public can join.
WW: Do you think OFFICIELLE was successful with opening up collecting to a younger generation?
JF: I do. In fact, the fair was more commercially successful than I thought it would be for a first year. There were major sales and most of the exhibitors were quite happy. We very much do believe in nurturing a younger group of collectors. I really think people need to have a point of entry into the market that is not a huge financial commitment when you are starting off. I believe strongly that something like OFFICIELLE can foster a new wave of collectors, make them comfortable, and get them involved.