Artist of The Week: Samuel Fasse

This week Milk caught up with artistic director, creative consultant, and founder of StudioFasseSamuel Fasse. Hailing from Paris, Fasse graduated from the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Antwerp and is now focusing on his accessories collection. Most recently, Fasse showed “Le Regard Ailleurs” (“The Look Elsewhere”) at Palais de Tokyo, where he combined fashion design, virtual reality, dance, and performance; the final culmination of which can be seen as a video via Nowness. Read our full interview below to delve deeper into his project and learn about some of the inspirations he taps into, with exclusive photos from French photographer Charles Negre.

Tell us about StudioFasse.

StudioFasse is based on a multidisciplinary approach based on artistic collaboration.

The launch is very recent and started after the first big event: the performance that gathered several eclectic profiles in order to create a global concept based on my universe.

Your project “Le Regard Ailleurs” is very complex and multi-faceted—can we break it down? What components make up the project?

“Le Regard Ailleurs” was the first step into a bigger project that I wanted to build on: launching my collections, specifically scarves through a new dimension, perception. My background into fashion relieved itself when I thought I wanted a new way of showing my collections, instead of a classical catwalk or presentation. So, I first started to create my collection in parallel of the drafting of the concept. The main idea was to bring together protagonists from very specific backgrounds. I immediately got  “Palais de Tokyo” to start with, which brought me the people that I wanted. The star dancers from the “Opera Garnier” were facing a virtual reality 360-degree reproduction of the space of the grand Rotunda from The Palais de Tokyo who was generating their choreography. And through their movements, the musical composition during the performance was generated by itself, each look triggered sounds and sound modulations: they acted as generators of their own musical composition. The final purpose, to reveal the object, the scarf must be considered the trace of a possible territory. The impression composed in “Trompe l’œil”, made of juxtaposition of materials becomes the reflection of their lived experience. But as well an inspiration for this VR space composed by plural elements out from the “Trompe l’œil” composition. My artistic associate, Morgan Belenguer and I wanted to create a unique microcosm. This one was half accessible by the audience, and that’s why in a second part we relived with DVgroup, the company who sponsored me, the current video projected into the VR helmets of the dancers.

There are so many layers to your project. Did you ever struggle to try to explain it or would you rather people take what they want from it?

In my multi-faceted approach, it is always a new challenge to convince people that they want to take part of it. Especially for “Le Regard Ailleurs”, which was different from my previous projects. I’m always trying to make it clear for the people involved, such as the public. But I like the fact that everything is not completely or doesn’t have to be fully explained. It is also a part of my process, I like to leave a certain space for coincidence and chance.

I like to leave a certain space for coincidence and chance.

What inspired you to begin this project?

You know, I’m a born and raised Parisian, and being surrounded by creative people gives you the right motivation to get you started, “to go for it”. And I can feel right now here in Paris a very big potential for young artists or people who want to offer their visions. Suddenly I felt maybe the right time for me to show, I hope, a sincere process. Trough discussions and new encounters, I got some interest around me, and since the beginning I always wanted to take the scarf as my final product, to play with it. I really wanted to bring a fresh vision on such known and usual object. Everybody knows the Hermes ones, but who really cares about the prints, on my personal point of view, I want to show the process, the concept behind it; to consider this amazing support which is the scarf, not only as a piece of fabric with a print on it.

A true desire to blur the boundaries between its purpose and representation.

It’s almost as if the scarves become a reflection of one’s reality—this motif appears again when the opera dancers become a reflection of their own virtual reality. Can you speak more about this? 

I consider the performance, the “momentum”, as a spontaneous instant that captures the energy of what happened, what is happening, and what would happen. Thereby, the global aspect of the performance is to establish a vertiginous self-reflection of all the actions and principles going on when the audience is present to catch this moment. I’m having fun to play with this different perception that anyone can appreciate and take whatever they want from it, to create a system where boundaries of reality can be altered.  I’m trying to give new “keys of perception”, and new technologies is a way also for me to magnify and amplify, to serve the concept, and not the contrary.

How did you get involved with Palais de Tokyo? Can you explain the process of showing an exhibit there?

As I explained, here in Paris you can really feel something coming up, full of energy. We got the chance to find still some spaces where we can work or expose. Even if most of the time, the youth struggles a lot to find a proper venue or location that you can enjoy. Creativity is moving around, a lot outside of Paris in the outskirts, which is good! A lot of exciting new places, but Palais de Tokyo stays still relevant to get a certain idea about what is best done in contemporary art nowadays. It didn’t take too much time for me to realize that it was the best place to show. I introduced myself and the project and got a very fast response from the team dedicated to handling all the performances and creative events over there. We are lucky that such big institutions are still taking some risks to believe in ideas out of nowhere! Kind of coming back to a museum’s roots: to have access to all art forms in a way… my performance was accessible to everyone who wanted to see it. My associate and I thought it was important that the performance could be replicable anywhere and we considered that relevant for the show. Palais de Tokyo fit perfectly, but why not elsewhere!

What makes your work relatable?

My work depends on one’s perception: who, where and how you are looking at it. Someone could ask himself “what the fuck is going on” while looking at the performance… Or even think that this is hard to get… I’m already happy if I can evoke a feeling in that person!! I’m trying to ask questions, not answer them, and if people feel connected to what I’m speaking about, I’m fine with it!

Globalization and social media tend to democratize our surroundings; things can become more accessible. If this is the case, why do you think we often times have trouble connecting with those around us? 

My work speaks a lot about this, about how we interact with each other, the confrontation of gazes.

In a constant research of being surrounding by the people you feel the most connected, you just put yourself in a very “soft position”. Because social media was a way of reaching a bigger friendship audience, it just puts you in a “bubble”. I call it a “Facebook/ Insta ghetto” because you’re being connected with and reaching a very specific network, you get satisfaction by only the people that are thinking the same as you, which gives a false perception of what surrounds us: it tends to compartmentalize us instead of bringing us together.

My second performance speaks to this as well; in the fact that revealing certain intimate aspects of yourself to a large public audience, you feel in the instant a very fast response. Or how confronting through a screen, as a digital frontier, can be totally disruptive.

People want to get a reply immediately, and cannot wait, or don’t know how to be patient for certain reasons: we have to re-learn how to get proper feelings. It is quite funny, because mostly all the tools that some people consider the cause of this “fake” life going on via social media are used in my work, but it is just the way you are using it that makes the difference or the perception from it, maybe sometimes we throw a little reality back.

My work depends on one’s perception: who, where and how you are looking at it.

How did your project “Le Regard Ailleurs” explores that idea?

We created with my colleague and the company, DVgroup an entire virtual world composed of fragments, shapes and forms specially dedicated to each dancer. The public was just literally looking at them while they were performing in a such intimate moment: we were close to voyeurism. We had put the dancers in a submissive environment, as we do when we connect ourselves I would say; the desire to reveal certain intimate moments to a larger audience.

I’m trying to trigger certain questions, to interrogate our perceptions. How can these new realities be a driving force to question or see otherwise…?

What do you think is the point of art?

To explore, to wonder, to doubt, to reveal and to experiment. 

What does it take to be an artist?

Passion, sincerity, and trying to have fun! 

Your foundational mission in creating art stems from the desire to collaborate. What traits do you look for in someone you’d like to collaborate with?

For le StudioFasse, I always felt the desire to bring several and eclectic profiles, as long as I consider them enough qualified. I may tell differently: all the people involved were curious and agreed to construct a deeper dialog linked to the topics I decided to explore. The StudioFasse has two major areas, on one hand the creation and design of audiovisual performances to reveal my collections. And on the other hand, the various missions such as set design, creative consulting, styling, etc… With still a very creative approach, but way different from the art statement that the I felt to tell from the other area.

It is all about exchange, dialogs, curiosity and open-mindedness. Having some fun to tell beautiful and interesting stories I would say…

What are you currently working on? Anything new?

In this idea to explore deeper topics, especially ones I consider still relevant, another performance is in the making, with new collaborators, new technologies and so on! With these ones, I’m submitting the new concept to different contests as well. It’s always a fun part to get the necessary financial resources!

I’m still exploring the previous one, from recently having had my exhibition. I’m still in research to create visuals around it. And to finally pass on to the next one, I’m creating a series of scenography-sculptures that are going to be exposed in a collective show: « Spaced in Lost », gathering different artists at the Charraudeau gallery in June.

I’m as well working with Diane Pernet on the next ASVOFF edition festival for early September…

Anyway, keeping myself busy!

Images courtesy of Charles Negre

Stay tuned to Milk for more artists on the rise. 

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