Baptiste Debombourg

김기은 Kim Kieun

K.K: Your work gave me the impression that you are much older, as I could feel a lot of tension and experience in the way you treat the surfaces. How can you comment on this ?

B.D:
It is in my nature to invest a lot of myself, driven by the result I am aiming to reach. I basically work all
the time, so I imagine that the experience accumulated. I like to experiment, reinvent things, find new challenges to
overcome...research takes a lot of time, together with testing or experimenting...it all makes you discover things that
you were not expecting to discover. I enjoy exploring what inspires me and I never count the time I invest in it.
I had a wide experience with glass, mainly because of the complexity of its structure, its ability to exist in different
forms, its interaction with light, its transparency. I’m still working to expand the potential of this material.
I am inspired by Total art, like Merzbaum by Kurt Schwitters, or Yayoi Kusama with her psychedelic installations.
Architecture is also another channel from where I get inspiration; the Kolumba Museum of Cologne in Germany
conceived by Peter Zumthor or the chapel of the Ibaraki Kasugaoka Church by Tadao Ando in Japan are just two
examples. What makes sense for me as an artist is the moment when you can really feel something very special
from the art, something true; and in that moment, all of your senses are engaged, so you are immersed in a total art
dimension.

K.K: How did glass become the leitmotiv of your creation ? 

B.D:
I was analyzing security glass in our everyday life, and how it behaved when an accident occured. In the same time, I observed people’s reactions towards the gov- ernment – the destruction of urban objects, of furniture or glass. The duality of the glass has been fascinating me; it is beautiful and dangerous at the same time.
The ‘acts of protest’ made me think about ways of trans- lation what I was seeing. It led me discover laminated glass, which is a very interesting material, because it pre- serves the impact, the ‘gesture’ of destruction. The glass becomes a witness of an action, of an impact. It keeps the memory of the action through its materiality, becoming a mirror of us, humans.
Through my research, I approached the history of glass and became aware how specific this material is for our times. Laminated glass was invented by Édouard Béné- dictus at the beginning of the 20th century (Triplex), then later it became the norm in architecture. After the terrorist act in Oklahoma City in 1995, the US Government decid- ed to extend this type of glass to all public architecture, because the glass killed a lot more people than the actual destruction of the building. I think glass is a good repre- sentation of our contemporary existence. 

K.K: In some of your works, I can perceive the space between the glass and the surface used as a base, as if caught in an interplay between imagination and real- ity, as if a tsunami was forming there. Do you invest the hidden space in your installations with any idea ?

B.D: 
I usually start from a real event, a context, thinking about the people that inhabit a specific terri- tory, understanding the history of a place. I define my way of working by saying that I am a contextual artist. I like to interact with everyday life, architecture, design, history. I look for the connections between the space
and the people, exploring the way that people use space, feeling the life they breath into it. After being aware of these observations, I try to articulate and organise all the elements, determining what I can see and what I perceive from this reality. Within this mental framework, the idea, the dream, the imagination become the main subject of the art project. I try to model these emotions into reality through my installations, basically trying to make the ‘dream become true’. Time and space are very important in my installations, hence I truly respect the identity of the space where I work – I don’t like to impose some- thing, it is rather a dialogue with the space. That is why in the majority of the cases, except the public commissions, my installations are ephemeral and disappear at the end of the show. I like the idea of ephemeral art, because you can ask many questions and provoke reactions, but also respect the independence of the space. I am fascinated with the idea of change, how art appears and disappears in a space, and the space is again free for some new proj- ect. Jean Blaise is a French curator who developed this idea with the festival ‘Voyage à Nantes’ (Nantes, Take
the journey!) and it is so amazing to have art in the city during many months, many sculptures and installations that totally change the life of the people in Nantes every year. It is precisely in this context that I created ‘Stellar’. I think we need to stimulate and develop our capacity
to imagine. It is a fundamental human need, but also a departing point; I believe in the power of the idea, and the ‘empty’ space within the work is crucial for it.

K.K: In your artistic discourse, you often mention violence and the paradoxical impact between the outside and the inside as two main concepts that you address. How do you situate your oeuvre in the context of the various forms of violence that we experience now ?

B.D: 
The reality is violent, not the art. If we look at the refugees, the migrant crisis in the EU, the actual injustice between women and men, racism, poverty...the list is long, unfortunately. My work strongly expresses the trou- bles and desires of our everyday life. My wish is to share experience and use my work to rise people’s awareness.

K.K: You work with your own hands in order to realize com- plex glass installations, although many contemporary artists prefer to externalize the artistic production. How would you comment on the syntagms “artist as producer” and “artist as creator” ? 

B.D:
I think it’s important to work within the context of our time, and sometimes I am with many assistants, 7 or 8. I always make sure to work with the best people (usual- ly artists, too) and care about every single detail. It is just a different organisation – you need to be attentive all the time and self-critic to be able to progress constantly. The real problem from my point of view is the difficult relation between artists and the art market, which leads many artists in the wrong direction. They started to be totally corrupted by the commercial system and end up making unvaluable works, and that represents the instance when they stop making art. On the other hand, we are living in a system, and you have to deal with it in order to survive. However, time always filters quality from the junk, but if you want to stay free, you don’t have to care too much, and just do your own thing.

K.K: You also worked with fashion brands such as Masion Martin Margiela and Nouvelle Affaire. How did you approach these particular projects ?

B.D:
Well, these were truly exciting collaborations – two different spirits, but same passion.
Pascal Humbert from Nouvelle Affaire and Maison Mar- tin Margiela approached me with distinct projects. For Margiela I was invited to propose an installation for the shop in Miami within the frame of Art Basel Miami, and
I decided to ‘crash’ the shop, as if some kind of accident happened there, but scrupulously connected to the details of the fashion objects and the clothes. I love the early work of Martin Margiela, I admire his way of being so minimal and radical.
With Pascal Humbert it was more a scenography, includ- ing the design of the lights for Hyeres Festival in the Villa Noailles in 2014.
It was very exciting and it opened my mind. We were spending our days in the wonderful Villa Noailles to pre- pare the Nouvelle Affaire show. I keep very good mem- ories of it. What I learned from that experience is not to compromise, and to defy the world of consumerism.
At the moment, I am working on a scenography for a music performance with the curator Stéphane Ghislain Roussel that will take place in Mudam Luxembourg in 2019. I like new challenges, they are indispensable to keep you aware of who you are.  

K.K: Nowadays there is a lot of concern regarding the easiness of creation, it’s almost like we are being flooded with creativity. What do you think about this critical aspect of art production?

B.D:
Yes, but when do we really create ? 
It’s a very good point that nowadays people develop their potential for creativity. I’m also an art teacher in the Architecture school (ENSAPLV) and I encourage and stimulate my students to develop their potential.
 We need creative people; of course, not everything is art, but, as I mentioned before, if more peo
ple have the opportunity to express themselves,
 we might cure a lot of problems surfacing in our world. I prefer happy people than frustrated peo- ple...we should not forget what Robert FIliou said: art is what make life more interesting than art... 
Maps Contents Media Lab Inc. 5F Seungkeong bldg 666-27 Sinsa-dong, Gangnam-Gu, Seoul, Republique de Corée
김기은 Kim Kieun est Directrice de la rédaction de Maps Magazine