By Sonia Alcaina Gallardo.
Curated By Girls is an online platform that aims to promote diversity, equality and respect with a high dose of heart and optimism. Ingrained in a philanthropical vision of humanity, the project is all-inclusive; any gender, color, generation, or ideology is featured. Waving the flag of freedom, CBG is taking over Berlin, spreading beauty and openness.
Over a cappuccino in her favorite café in the vibrant Berliner neighborhood of Neukölln, we spoke with co-founder Laetitia Duveau, also known as Little Voice. We talked about her projects, her dreams, about love and freedom, and about her purple jacket.
Born in France, Laetitia moved to Berlin only six months ago where she is now based working on her music and curating the Curated By Girls’ 2nd IRL show, "POSTER BOYS". This second IRL show will take place in Neukölln in the same studio as the previous show, “freer in Berlin,” at Blender & Co., on November 12 & 13, 2016. This time, the show features unreleased works by Joseph Wolfgang Ohlert, a 25 year old analog photographer who plays with portraits of gender ambiguous men. His 1st book “Gender As A Spectrum” is a stunning released example of his work.
Kinofilia: Probably nobody asked you this before, What was your initial motivation when you decided to found CBG?
LD: It’s the first time somebody asks me this! I became a curator by accident in a way because my friend Ophelie Rondeau, photographer, came up with this idea to put up a website about diversity together. She asked me “do you want to get on board with me?”, and I immediately said YES. For me as a musician, the whole idea sounded very interesting. I was kind of focused on my music all the time and struggling with my own projects so I thought “why not try something different and put myself outside of the box that is my musical career?”
Our aim was to promote art that we liked without checking if the artist behind it was a young or old person, a boy, a girl, or a transgender person, famous or not. The idea was to create a platform where everyone could be represented, no matter who they are.
Kinofilia: I like about your project that you go far beyond the limiting traditional idea of feminism by choosing to exhibit all gender’s art, and not only female artwork as it happened in the late 60’s with feminist art. How do you think that this ‘New Femininity’ story should develop in the future?
LD: I think we need to restructure the traditional pattern we followed until now where the alpha male was the one in control and owned the power to decide. I considered we needed to get rid of those old ideas and start to promote a new kind of feminism where both men and women are included, where men are allowed to be as masculine or feminine as they like, and vice-versa. I’m open to human beings; I welcome humanity as it comes and as it fancies to be. I work for diversity, for acceptance. New femininity must be more than words or debate. It has to be a bigger project than just a philosophy. I have decided not to focus on what's wrong in our society, just because we can't be well adjusted in a profoundly sick society like ours that is fostered by ego, money and power. There is a long way to go if we want to change this, but we need to stay positive. I am a positive person and I believe we have to support everyone and stop fighting between us. What I see is more & more communities fighting each other more and more. I prefer to see the beauty in every one of us. Just stop a second what you are doing and just enjoy whatever is around you! Just observe. That is new femininity to me.
Kinofilia: Trends have the power to influence the future of femininity. As an anecdote, before World War II boys wore pink as a lighter version of red and its connotations of power, and girls blue. It was only when the American newspaper The Sunday Sentinel advised mothers in 1914 to “use pink for the boy and blue for the girl, if you are a follower of convention” that the whole game changed to what we know now. Considering that even gender is cultural, do you believe that we are actually changing the way we look at sexual orientation and gender socialization?
LD: Ha, ha, ha, this is so funny! I decided to avoid the pink for our logo and go for the blue instead and now I just found out I am actually being conventional. Everything is so relative if you think about it. Answering your question, I truly believe we are indeed changing things by being more open to different categories of gender, accepting gender fluidity. But we are still so late! We need to learn a lot about acceptance and deconstruct what has been imposed before.
Kinofilia: This part becomes personal now, on a scale from 1 to 10, how dangerous would you consider the effect of Barbie dolls on the perpetuation of these distorted gender roles?
LD: Danger! I would say the main problem here has to do not with Barbie dolls but with the parents of those children who are being given the toys. I would blame Barbie with a five. I remember once that I was working on a Teddy Bear shop with beautiful vintage stuffed animals and this two year old boy came with his parents and had a crush on a pink Chihuahua. The mother was shocked of embarrassment and tried to persuade him to take another animal, apparently more boyish. I though certain kind of parents are sometimes the ones to blame by trying to turn their children into whatever ideal they have in mind. The reality is that these children are individuals with their own feelings and personalities, and these character threats might not be what the parents expect them to be.
Kinofilia: You are a musician who decided to curate art. What is the most challenging part of curating this project?
LD: It’s definitely the time managing. These days I spend so much time on the curating that I barely have time for my music. I’m trying to manage with both but the reality is that I am a perfectionist and I want to do things right, that means that sometimes you have to make some sacrifices. Another challenge about curating is having to deal with some artist’s ego. It can be tiring.
Kinofilia: What are your main criteria when you pick up the artists to exhibit?
LD: I could say I curate with my heart and with my guts. I’m not denying that quality is for me an important issue but I mainly take honest and authentic proposals. Sometimes I receive series from some artists who are still a bit naïve in their conception but if I perceive that there is something genuine and pure in their works, I would definitely wanna feature it. I wanna share art that touches my soul.
Kinofilia: Somebody quite smart told me in art school that there are three stages in art: provocation, surprise and emotion. Most artists remain in the first two, limiting themselves to merely provoke or surprise with their art; few go further and try to create an emotion in the viewer. Do you think that is important for an artist, to connect with their audience? What are the parameters by which you distinguish good art from the pile of junk out there?
LD: I would say the precious feeling of being in front of a sincere piece of art is everything. It is hard to tell, I am not an art critic myself but I consider an artist has to create from the depth of his/her guts in order to be true to oneself. That he/she/they have something to say, whatever it is but has something inside tryin’ to say something. No just ego stuff and self-masturbation. I agree there's a bit of provocation, surprise and emotion in the work process. But art is not about making money or recognition in the first place. It is a therapy. We made it a business and that's when things went wrong. Good art is sincere. Have you noticed that some music doesn't get old? It's just because it is sincere, coming from the bottom of your heart.
I don’t judge imitation; I think it’s cute. It shows that this person is getting through. That is almost there. Most of the times you need to imitate in order to find yourself and anyway. Nowadays almost nothing is original.
Kinofilia: Have you ever thought about making art yourself? Do you think that there are feelings or states of mind that only music can translate?
LD: I’ve been a bit forced to do some videos, some editing here, some artwork there… When you don't have a team working for/with you, you have to do everything yourself from songs to videos, logos, artwork. So I am touching a bit of this too.
Since I was very little I was involved in arts, maybe because of the fact that I am very shy I loved spending time drawing and doing stuff just for fun.
Art is for me very susceptible to create emotions, which are the real purpose of it. Music would be more like a trip from one emotion to another, and transports you easily from happiness to gloom in about seconds. But it really depends on how the receiver gets touched by it, whether it is music or art.
LD: I came across that article by Keith Telfeyan about Berlin and I thought it really described what I felt about this city and its freedom. I contacted Keith and asked him if I could use his article for my first IRL Show “Freer in Berlin” and he agreed, which was great. Berlin is a capital city like New York, Paris or London, but what makes it different it’s his approach to money. There is not too much money in Berlin. Berlin is poor but sexy, but this is not an issue. It is exactly the opposite, the lack of money, of this commodity, it’s precisely what makes it such a creative city. Very often, money kills inspiration; it makes you take things for granted. In Berlin people come and experience and share with others, they take time to find themselves. It’s a very international and multicultural city. It’s a shame that is starting to grow so fast already like every other city. You can feel that is happening here too what happened with NY, and people try hard not to succumb to the monster of capitalism and keep the “Berliner vibe” as long as possible.
Kinofilia: In that interview for I Heart Berlin, you also talked about two philosophical matters: love and freedom. “Love is freedom” were your words. It is a curiosity that in both our mother tongues, French and Spanish, “liberté,” or “libertad,” respectively, come from the latin, “libertas-atis,” but the English word, “freedom,” comes from an Indo-European root meaning, “love.” What it is even more paradoxical, is that the same root is at the same time used for the word “afraid.” Now, somehow that makes sense to me, how scary being in love can be! How do you think that our society can overcome this fear of love that limits us so much, and become “freer” in Berlin, in Paris, in Shanghai…?
LD: This is so curious! Language can be sometimes so surprising! What I believe is that we are most times too focused on our own egos, on ourselves, and we should stop being so selfish and have a look around. I think we are afraid of falling in love because we thing people have to love us back. We fear rejection and abandonment when we should overcome this fear and be the one who loves instead. We shouldn’t wait for others to love us to be able to love. That is the real freedom I would say.
Kinofilia: Tell me about your purple jacket. I heard many stories already, but I want to know what it means for you. Did this jacket become your freedom jacket? Your fear-free jacket?
LD: Oh! My purple jacket! Yes! I had to leave it back in France. I wore it way too much! It became in fact a symbol for me. It represents a state of mind. I refuse to wear black all the time, which in Berlin is a must, but I just love colors. I don’t do things to please others; I want to be myself. That is what this jacket is about. The story is that I was enjoying my night with some friends in France and this girl came and said to me, “I have to tell you, your jacket is disgusting.” I could tell she was a bit drunk, but that was no excuse. I felt bad, not for myself, but for her. She might have been very sad to say something like that to another person. I was a very shy person by then, I am still am, but I somehow arrived to this peaceful place where I feel free to be myself and wear whatever I fancy. I have been a unicorn for a year, almost, and it is amazing.
It is great satisfaction to be able to do what you want to do without caring of what other people think. That is what many people fight for, to be respected, but who cares! The most important thing is to respect yourself!
Kinofilia: Visiting the show “Freer in Berlin” the past 8th and 9th of October, I enjoyed seeing how many artists actually sold some pieces. I thought that you did a good job as a curator because the affordable prices of the pieces were coherent with the kind of audience attending the exhibition. In that sense, it was indeed, as your entire project claims to be, very honest. Are you gonna keep on working in this line?
LD: What I am trying to do is make art more accessible. The artist is always the one who sets the prices, the one in control. I always give them my advice though, and that is how we created this line of work. I work with emerging artist and we try to keep it as I mentioned, affordable and honest for everyone.
My vision is to give access to Art to everyone in the most pleasant way possible.
Kinofilia: Is there any future dream you want to share with us?
LD: I have many of them! I would love to go with CBG around the world. I would also love to keep on working on my music and eventually touring worldwide too. It is all about work and dreams. For now, I will try to keep on helping artists to get more exposure.