Artist Run Spaces: Deborah Bowmann
Deborah Bowmann is a project space run by artists Amaury Daurel and Victor Delestre, two Frenchmen from Bordeaux who studied art in Amsterdam and Glasgow respectively. Their space is located in St. Gilles, just around the corner from their studio; another space they share despite also having individual art practices.
Deborah Bowmann plays with the conceptual and performative while still being a product of something so profane as a business model. Artists are invited to produce and exhibit their work here, mostly in close collaboration with Amaury and Victor who work up a concept for the exhibition. But Deborah Bowmann is more than just an exhibition space, it is also an artistic identity on its own, a fictive name representing the practice of a duo. Often the two will produce pedestals, showcases and displays for an exhibition under the name of Deborah Bowmann Studio, all of which are quite sculptural. The two are business associates as well as artists and aware of the fact that art takes part in capitalism and commercialism, which is why they try to redefine and reshape the nature of its relation, while negotiating this fact on their own terms – producing, doing marketing, exhibiting, and selling without a mediator.
And who is this infamous Deborah Bowmann then?
“Why Deborah Bowmann? Well firstly, we are two French guys and we didn’t want to have a name that could be related to us, so we chose this name because it’s feminine and it acts like a brand; to have this big contrast of the name and us. It’s interesting that people who are not familiar with our project, miss the fact that she is merely a fictitious character. It acts like a déjà vu of a gallery or a brand. We also chose this mythological identity to reflect big companies and brands that have a name, but where you never get to see the person behind it. We like this abstract idea of people and their brands.”
Deborah Bowmann is an equivocation that plays with the codes and norms of a gallery and an artist run space, resulting in a hybrid mix of commerce, branding and art. They describe the project as a living sculpture, where the space acts as a platform of collaboration and participation for the invited artists.
A lot of the exhibition making takes place in situ, contributing to this idea of the place as a sculpture and providing it with a studio feel, reminiscing the factory of Andy Warhol – another artist very aware of the commercial value of art.
Although Deborah Bowmann started out in a squatted building in Amsteram, the project was initially set out to be in Brussels, where they quickly integrated with the art scene:
“We didn’t really have a relation to Brussels beforehand, we had some friends from France living here and some Belgian friends, but no special relation; it was really linked to the idea of Deborah Bowmann to be set in Brussels because of the art scene: all the artist run spaces, all the fairs. It was for us, looking in from the outside, very appealing and interesting in terms of contrasts between commercial galleries, artist run spaces, big fairs, the collectors – it’s a real special place for artist run spaces.”
Their current exhibition ”Misters Higgledy & Piggledy” is a collaboration between Deborah Bowmann Studio and Daniel Dewar & Grégory Gicquel, combining two series of works – ‘The spectacle of our lives’ by Deborah Bowmann Studio and ‘Mixed Ceramics’ by Daniel Dewar & Grégory Gicquel.
On `The spectacle of our lives´:
“While the deliberate forms of Deborah Bowmann Studio initially appear to be furniture, we come to realize that this is only a false pretence: no doors, no openings, no true possible use. They then become suggestions of furniture, reduced to their aesthetics. Like empty shells, these forms are the shapes of objects, specters of function and decoration.” Critic Christine Tuür, Bruxelles, 2017.
`Mixed Ceramics´ also play with function and matter. The artist duo Daniel Dewar & Grégory Gicquel have been working together for 15 years with a practice that redefines sculpture in an imagistic and conceptual way; incorporating the crafted handmade with accessible, recognizable matter.
”Misters Higgledy & Piggledy” acts like the implementation of a vast reverse optical illusion (trompe-l’œil). Objects are present but empty, absent to themselves, refusing their own function and appearance. The forms of Deborah Bowmann Studio as well as “Mixed Ceramics’’ by Daniel Dewar & Grégory Gicquel set up a space deserted by humans, where objects regain control of their destiny, where function is not but a dim memory.” Critic Christine Tuür, Bruxelles, 2017.
The exhibition runs till July 8, 2017.
Deborah Bowmann has just been nominated for the 19th edition of the prestigious Prix Fondation d’Entreprise Ricard / Art Contemporain.
Read more about the project at www.deborahbowmann.com