How to stage an intervention at the Monnaie de Paris

The making of “Sorry I didn’t get that”, installed for one evening in the exhibition of Maurizio Cattelan’s work “Not Afraid of Love”

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Event flyer designed by Margaux Salgado.

We began working on this event at the beginning of the semester, and spent the weeks and months building it from the ground up. The process began with a meeting led by Mathieu Pitkevicht from the Monnaie de Paris, presenting the concept and opening a call for proposals. Katia, Francesco, Margaux, and I were assembled as the “curatorial team”, and we were asked to take the lead on development and production.

After a follow-up meeting to clarify the proposal process, we received a number of interesting projects. After reviewing the entries, we began to define the direction we wanted the event to take, and from there it was easy to decide which projects fit with our concept and to make our selection. Because this was a one-night event, we wanted it to be energetic, interactive, and performance-based. We chose projects that would engage the audience, whether through aural, visual, or physical means.

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After meeting to go over the specific artworks included in the show, the artists then adjusted their projects to blend with themes of the exhibition, or tailored them to specific spaces within the galleries.

We met almost every week leading up to the event, sometimes more as it got closer. It was fascinating to watch the projects we selected evolve from basic ideas into a fully formed experience. As we learned more about the specific artworks included and the space that housed the Cattelan show, this information seemed to be absorbed into our event and reflected in the developing pieces. Some was intentional–Sebastian Grant’s piece evolved to become a direct dialogue with Maurizio Cattelan, with Grant’s performance persona taken from a self-portrait doll hung in one gallery. Other times it seemed more like fate, as Barnard’s red drum set found a home in a room that had been painted red specifically for this exhibition.

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Brainstorming a title for the event.

As part of the curatorial team, my tasks were mostly concerned with emails, calendars, and checklists. My favorite part, of course, was working with the artists, watching their pieces come together, discussing their ideas and helping to make them a reality. I also enjoyed working “behind the scenes” with Mathieu and the team at Monnaie de Paris, all of whom were welcoming and supportive. Katia and Francesco took charge of communication with the Monnaie de Paris and upper Parsons management. Katia also managed the budget and made sure the artists got the necessary materials. Margaux put together flyers promoting the event as well as papers to hand out to visitors on the night of, detailing the specific projects.

Leading up to the big night, we had a rough install two days before, allowing us to move all equipment in and work out any last minute kinks. Things went better than could be hoped, and now I was mostly nervous about attendance, worried that no one would come to see what we had all worked so hard to produce.

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Performance by Lucian Moriyama of his piece ArcAutoportant, surrounding the artwork La Nona Ora by Maurizio Cattelan. Photograph courtesy of Anne Ditmeyer.

I needn’t have worried. The evening arrived, and with it the the typical jitters and technical difficulties. I made a mental list of “things to do differently next time”, but they were all minor points and overall the event was a major success. The artists made the show come to life, and their dedication to high standards made their projects really shine. I also learned what it takes to make something like this happen, beyond creating the artworks–all the planning, communication, back-and-forth, adjustments, mediation, and administrative tasks involved. It was work, but also a real pleasure to have been part of this event.