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Paris+ par Art Basel 2023: Interview with Annabelle Ténèze

Annabelle Ténèze, curator of the exhibition 'La cinquième saison' ('The fifth season') at Jardin des Tuileries – Domaine National du Louvre.

Photography by Marion Berrin for Paris+ par Art Basel. Courtesy of Paris+ par Art Basel.


You've had an extensive career in the art world, with roles ranging from director of contemporary art museums to your new position at the Louvre-Lens. How do you see these experiences shaping your approach to curating and organizing exhibitions for events like Art Basel?

I'd say that what unites all these experiences is the need to create a link between artists, their works and the public, to encourage encounters, and to provide the best possible opportunity for emotion and discussion around these encounters, whatever the context, be it a museum of contemporary art, a fine arts museum, or an outdoor public space, such as the Jardin des Tuileries, where I am curating 'La Cinquième Saison' (The Fifth Season), an exhibition resulting from a collaboration between Paris+ par Art Basel and the Musée du Louvre.

Your curatorial work often intertwines historical context with contemporary art. Could you elaborate on how you plan to incorporate the Tuileries garden's historical and political significance into the upcoming exhibition?

The Jardin des Tuileries is a multifaceted place. First and foremost, it is a place of history, including political history, situated between the Place de la Concorde and the Louvre Museum. It's also a place of art: It showcases the history of landscape art and gardening, and functions as an open-air art museum with permanently installed sculptures dating from the 17th to the 20th century (Jean Dubuffet, Germaine Richier, Giuseppe Pennone). It's also one of the busiest parks in Paris, attracting regulars and tourists alike. Furthermore, it is one of the few islands of greenery in Paris' dense urban environment. It's the combination of all these dimensions that interests me. Exhibiting in a historic site and in a public place inevitably gives a different dimension to a contemporary work of art, and a contemporary creation inevitably reveals a different facet of the site. History helps us understand our present, and contemporary art sheds light on our shared past.

Tony Cragg, Willow, 2014

Presented by Buchmann Galerie. Courtesy of Paris+ par Art Basel

Last year's Paris+ par Art Basel exhibition in the Tuileries garden prompted discussions on art in public space and inclusion. How do you foresee this year's selection of works contributing to similar conversations or addressing new themes?

This question of who is present and who is absent from the public arena is a fundamental issue for me. The right to expression and the means of this expression are topics that run through my research. It was indeed very present in the last exhibition I curated in the Tuileries, titled 'La Suite de l'histoire'. What makes a monument and alternative monuments? The question of who lives in the garden and how to live differently and together in the garden is very much present in this second exhibition. It explores the Jardin des Tuileries as a space for plant, aquatic, mineral, animal and human activity and cohabitation, with the idea that it constitutes an earthly community that includes all living things. This garden is an ecosystem, all the more striking because it is located and preserved in the heart of a very urban environment. The exhibition brings together artists whose creations are, for me, 'living objects'.

In a world undergoing profound transformation, and an Earth undergoing dramatic change as a result of climate change, the artists shed light on the movements of the garden and of its inhabitants: wandering animals, growing plants, flowing water, emerging roots… they allow us to question the origin of materials, to perceive how the stones come to life... In short, to design this yet-to-come, mysterious 'Fifth Season' together. The question of inclusivity also remains central to this endeavor, with works by Zanele Muholi, General Idea, and Romina De Novellis.

The alliance between the Musée du Louvre and Paris+ par Art Basel brings contemporary art to a broader audience. How do you balance the expectations of art enthusiasts familiar with the contemporary scene and those encountering contemporary art for the first time?

Your comment is very much on point. What's incredible about this exhibition project at the Jardin des Tuileries is its openness to the public. In fact, it's a large-scale contemporary art exhibition, completely free of charge, in one of the busiest, most majestic spaces in Paris. This allows art lovers to discover artists they may not know yet and new works by more established artists, as well as those unfamiliar with contemporary art to have a first experience of it. That's why we pay such close attention to the show's educational tools, with introductory texts, clear labels, audio-guides, and maps to make the visit as easy as possible. The idea is for all visitors to have access to the artists' creations, each at their own pace and from their own perspective, whatever the reason for their visit to the Tuileries might be.

1 Zanele Muholi, The Politics of Black Silhouettes, 2023

Presented by Galerie Carole Kvasnevski, courtesy of Paris+ par Art Basel

2 Jacqueline de Jong, Baked Potatoes, 2006

Presented by Dürst Britt & Mayhew (The Hague), photography by Gert Jan van Rooij, courtesy of the artist and Dürst Britt & Mayhew, The Hague

3 Claudia Comte, Five Marble Leaves, 2023

Presented by Albarrán Bourdais (Madrid), courtesy of the artist and Albarrán Bourdais

4 Joël Andrianomearisoa, Serenade Serenade - Serenade And The Triumph of Romance, 2023

Presented by Almine Rech, courtesy of Paris+ par Art Basel

The upcoming exhibition features artists such as Claudia Comte, Zanele Muholi, Joël Andrianomearisoa, and Jacqueline de Jong. Could you provide insights into how you've curated these artists' works to create a coherent and engaging experience within the context of the Tuileries Garden?

Some of the works are existing, some have been adapted, others have been created especially for the show. What's important to me for a project like this is to be able to present artists from different generations, hailing from several continents, and working with a broad variety of mediums. Each work needs to be able to exist individually while together, they should tell a coherent story. What's also important in such a place is the choice of locations; they allow you to create a strong dialogue with the different spaces of the garden. For example, four works (Joël Andrianomearisoa, Julien Berthier, Claudia Comte, and Jacqueline de Jong) are spectacularly placed in the Jardin des Tuileries' fountains. Some works echo their environment even more precisely, like Henrique Oliveira's, which seems to emerge from the grass like an extension of the ground.

Furthermore, what shapes the show are the themes that emerge along the way: One group of works is devoted to the power of stones and mineral forms, another to habitat, a third to animals, a fourth to the energy of the soil, a fifth to plants, and a final one to water. The exhibition is conceived as a free-form tour: It must be coherent and make sense whether you start your visit from the Carrousel du Louvre or from the Concorde. That's the challenge!


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