Launching this September at Hotel Drouot in Paris, District 13 Art Fair will position itself in line with other major events in the capital dedicated to Urban Art, at the heart of a debate on its present and future. Finding its inspiration in projects such as Tour Paris 13 and Street Art 13 led by Galerie Itinerrance, the fair will offer the public a curated selection of some of the most prominent international galleries and representatives of the world of Street art.
In addition to a carefully curated selection of both local and international galleries and artists, the fair will present a wide range of accompanying events, such as art conferences, autograph sessions and meetings with international artists, guided tours and auctions.
We had a chat with the Director Louna Grécourt to find out what's cooking at the first edition of the District 13 Art Fair. In an exclusive Widewalls interview, Grécourt talks about the founding of the fair, the fair’s collaboration with Hotel Drouot, the program of the first edition, the Street art scene in Paris, and much more.
Widewalls: Let’s begin with the story of District 13 as the largest outdoor Street Art Exhibition in Paris. How did it come to be?
Louna Grécourt: The 13th arrondissement of Paris is a real open-air museum thanks to several projects launched by Mehdi Ben Cheikh, our art director. With projects Street Art 13 and Tour Paris 13, the first goal was to bring artists from all over the world to Paris. Tour Paris 13 gathered more than one hundred international artists and Street Art 13 has provided an interesting mural program made by French and international artists, leaving a mark in the capital.
In addition to a purely commercial strategy in galleries, true research efforts, as well as the creation of original projects, are two seminal steps to ensure the successful development of the movement.
Widewalls: Starting an art fair seems like a natural step forward for you. What do you expect from the first edition?
LG: It was natural because it embodies the same logic as the projects taking place in the 13th arrondissement, hence our name “District 13 Art Fair”.
We are clearly in favor of gathering the major players of the movement, whether they are artists, curators or gallery owners, in common projects. The art fair format allows us to bring together galleries working in different ways but with a common objective: to promote the Street Art movement.
We also want to display the diversity and the richness of this movement in a single location. The very concept of sharing, specific to the street art, demonstrates that this dynamic movement brings a new breath to the overall artistic creation.
Widewalls: What can you tell us about the fair’s relationship with Drouot? How will you compliment each other?
LG: Drouot is a symbolic place, as all the art history passed between its walls. It is the best place to write the history of this movement! For the first time, Drouot welcomes a fair dedicated to Urban Art in the center of Contemporary Art. Thanks to this initiative, Drouot is and will remain a major player in art history.
Widewalls: Although the first edition’s exhibitors are small in number, they are all very dedicated to Urban Art. What was the selection process like?
LG: First of all, we were committed to the quality. We aim to display a refined selection of urban art without making it excessive, but to also demonstrate a wider understanding of the movement by including the subcultures (skateboard, tattoo, Low brow…). With this selection process, the goal is to gather galleries that represent the movement in the best way, while demonstrating an international diversity.
It’s the first time that we are facing a planetary movement thanks to the social media and it seemed obvious to show its plurality.
Widewalls: What can the visitors expect from the program of the fair in 2018?
LG: Aside from international galleries that will present a plurality of artworks to the visitors, the fair will be complemented by conferences featuring international artists. Artists from Lebanon, Chile, France and the United States will come to speak about their experiences around the world, which will illustrate what I said above, that Street Art is a global and plural movement.
This year, the fair will welcome the exceptional presence of Shepard Fairey (aka Obey), Inti, Seth and many more.
Widewalls: What are your thoughts on the state of the French, and international, street art today?
LG: Street Art is a popular and democratic movement which managed to stand out in the art scene. The integration of Graffiti and Street Art was easy thanks to the social networks and its accessibility to a very wide audience. Its entry to a more commercial institutional market had already begun, but many things remain to be done. Street Art has become a big movement, so it’s necessary to reinvent everything and for the market to adapt itself. And it’s very exciting!
The proponents of the movement can put forward real energy, spectacular events and new direct human interactions. Street Art is known to make monumental things, such as walls and installations: the market has to use this dynamic.
In my opinion, France already knew how to differentiate itself with more than 60 galleries of Street Art in Paris, specialized auctions sales, projects and of course District 13 Art Fair! Moreover, big artists such as JR, Invader, C215, and many others are French artists. With regard to the exhibitions, it’s necessary to get off the beaten track, to offer new things and to sharpen the curiosity of the French audience.
Widewalls: How do you see District 13 Art Fair evolve in the future?
The future will tell! The goal is to make people dream for a long time thanks to Street Art.
Featured image: District 13, Drouot. Photo by Milan Poyet – Vigie Production. All images courtesy of District 13.