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Madame Lupin: Immersive Art Experiences

Melanie Dorey from Madame Lupin talks to us about creating site-specific artistic experiences in very atypical places (abandoned museum's, hospital's, military fort's,...) specifically the recent event at the Jefferson Market Library in NYC for URBEXPO #3. They curate immersive art exhibitions with artists from different media (sculpture, dance, theatre, music, painting, photography,...) Each of their events is completely different: new place, new artist, new experience. And all of the events are a secret, the guests are informed of the locations just a few days before the show.

Tussle:  How did Madame Lupin come to exist?


Mélanie DOREY: Madame Lupin was founded in 2015 with the desire to show contemporary art in a new way, to a new public. We originally created the project for our friends who are not into contemporary art, don't go to galleries. We wanted to generate a new interest in them, something they would go to and where they would actually understand and feel the artworks.


So we found some incredible empty spaces - like an abandoned museum, a military fort, a sand quarry - and we tried to establish a dialogue between the spaces and the artists. Each event is in a different place, with a different artist, so the audience doesn't know what to expect next!

Tussle: How would you define space in relation to art and how does taking the viewer out of the usual art viewing setting change their experience?


Mélanie DOREY: This unusual context - outside galleries and museums - allows the public to be very open and absorbing minded.

First, because a lot a of people are intimidated in art galleries and the "art market" part can be too present. And second, both in galleries and museums, the usual "white cube" setting puts the spectator in a passive place.


When our audience comes to our events, they don't know where they're going to (an abandoned factory, a library ?) so they don't have any bias. And that's important because that puts them on an equal level with the art.


And on the top of that, we create a whole storytelling (before and during the event) and scenography to make the exhibition immersive, using light, music, performers and mystery communication.


So all that allows the audience to feel the artworks, more than just viewing.

Tussle: Can you describe the project that happened in NYC recently? What was the outcome?


Mélanie DOREY: This project was a collaboration with the New York Adventure Club. The NYAC offers unusual tours on New York, like places closed to the public, or off-road food tours,... I met the founder, Corey, a few months ago and we wanted to collaborate on his annual exhibition at the Jefferson Market Library about urban exploration. So he invited me to be a curator on URBEXPO #3.


The Jefferson Market Library is a beautiful neo-gothic building in Greenwich Village built in 1833. I had the main reading room to curate which was related to the subcultures of urban exploration.


So when I got back to Paris, I contacted the best French urbex photographers I knew - Diane Dufraisy, Romain Veillon, Lenaj - and also young contemporary artists in photography and video installation like Lea Dumayet, Camille Calvo, and Chloe Mossessian. I wanted to do more than a photo exhibit, but also immerse the audience in the artists work.


During the exhibition installation, I decided to "blend" the art in the space. Photos were on curated piles of books, there was a big projection on the floor (from the ceiling) that people could walk on and play with, and I turned off the big lights and put some flashlights so people could "explore" the exhibition by themselves, letting them do their own lighting and discovery.


There was also an experimental band playing, RE, on a catwalk above us, improvising with the space and the number of people coming in.


It was a total experience as much as we could do.

Tussle: What is your next project?


Mélanie DOREY: I'm actually working on a big international project, that I call "an immersive curating tour", where I want to work with institutes and foundations across the world to create artistic experiences with local artists.


This summer I'm going to be working on several things: two events in Paris coming this autumn, and creating new corporate offers. I want to diversify our activity: keep the underground events, but also open to corporate events and team buildings, to bring what we do in a new adventure!

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