[Originally posted on May 2009]
Born in the district of Montauban, France, Fette has brought along with her a unique perspective to how we experience art in the confines of a gallery space. An approach that surely differs from someone that comes from a larger metropolitan, like Paris or Lyon. Fette’s Gallery has succeeded in giving a level of intimacy by conceptualizing the use of ones dwelling in the idea of combining it with a gallery space. Originally conceived in Los Angeles’s Culver City area, Fette’s Gallery has then moved to Berlin, Germany, a change that will, with no doubt, be useful for an interesting note of adaptation not only for the gallery but for Fette herself. Let’s discover what Fette has to say about her time living in Los Angeles and how, at her eyes, exhibiting art still has room for creative growth.
You once pointed out that you grew up living in an elementary school. Do you feel that unique experience contributed into having your gallery in your home?
Ahah. That would be quite cynical I suppose. I don’t think this experience directly contributed in opening a first gallery inside a domestic space. I’d rather say that it might have come from my parents fostering an environment encouraging curiosity and differences in one’s way of living.
After moving into your home in Culver City, what were some major changes you made to accommodate the specific feel you had in your mind for the gallery?
When I was visiting houses, I was only looking at them with the idea of growing a gallery space inside, so the layout, amount of walls, and overall flow were primordial. The house didn’t need that many structural changes – we once put up temporary walls for Bas Louter’s eight-foot tall charcoal drawings and installed Joshua Callaghan’s gigantic pigeon on the roof of the house. We took down the ugly and massive ceiling fans, the curtain hangers, and placed gallery-ready track lights in the two main rooms. I think that as soon as these were up, the space felt different. It was still an empty house, but the atmosphere had changed. It’s pretty amazing how your perception of space differs once a different context is applied.
When considering a place to open your first gallery, what attracted you most to the Los Angeles area?
I didn’t really pick the city with grand life schemes in mind, it’s more like I stumbled upon LA and got used to it. The general optimism that the city gives definitely helped me make the decision of staying a little longer than planned and opening a space sooner than later. Coming from France where the atmosphere wasn’t prompt to making this sort of decision, it felt really refreshing to find a place where being young and radical is seen as an attribute instead of a detriment.
People sometimes stereotype Los Angeles as a place lacking much cultural diversity. In your opinion what must the city do to counteract this and brand its art scene better?
I find people in general rather soft and not dedicated enough to make things change or evolve. It seems like a lot of people get attracted to LA with the idea that the city will bring them something new, exciting and different without having to do anything in order to build this vision. But again, I am not sure this is something entirely specific to LA, or the US, or the damn world.
Fette’s Gallery is focused on developing connections between artists working within one specific area and artists outside of that cultural constraint. Since opening what has been the most important thing you’ve realised in this dialogue?
Mostly that geography and gender aren’t decisive or relevant to what sort of art one will be making. Time is. Prior to opening the space, I was wondering why people felt compelled to loudly declare that. This art is so from LAÓ or ÒA woman made this. As soon as I started showing work made by artists living the Netherlands or Italy I could sense that these questions were not raised anymore, because people couldn’t tell. It was refreshing not to deal with this non-sense and move on to other conversations, for instance ones linked to political context within a piece in relation to another.
Can you name some spots you would suggest to a visitor wanting to experience what LA and its surrounding districts really have to offer?
I’d say that walking in LA is actually a good start. Grab a couple major Boulevards and experience the change of going through neighborhoods and atmospheres. Go see galleries, art viewing is free, and between Gagosian in Beverly Hills and Hope Gallery in Echo Park you can get drastically different references. Spend the day at the beach then drive to Joshua Tree for the night, you will wake up in a complete different place, alone and peaceful.
Who is your role model? Or most interesting women you’ve met?
As with everyone I meet or read about, the ones who inspire me and stay in my mind are the people who fight for the freedom to express what they have inside. Recently, I came across Emma Goldman who was advocating for women’s reproductive rights back in the early 1900Õs (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emma_goldman).
Does Fette create any artwork of her own? If so can you describe what your work consists of?
I have been working with collages and photography for quite some time without pursuing it publicly. Recently, I have been questioning what a moving image conveys and how one creates a compelling narrative film. It appears to me that for the most part, everyone is still referring to the same language and principals to create a film. I’d like to find a new vocabulary more heavily related to film as a medium, yet associated with my personal stories.
What shape do you see Fette’s Gallery taking in the future?
I still feel compelled to challenge our ways of experiencing art. With my move to Berlin, I want to re-evaluate what it means to exhibit art. It seems to me that the understanding of art is too restrained by the institutions distilling it. I’d like to create more projects independent from a dealer and outside of the white walls realm. At the beginning of the year, I started an exhibition project entitled Hors Les Murs, which solely exists online. Every month one or many artists and curators chose to feature work dealing with the very aspect of experiencing art online. I am curious to see how these kinds of projects evolve.
Who is a woman you would like to see featured/interviewed here?
I am thinking of these four: Shary Boyle, Debauchette, Bethany Shorb, Erica Eyres.