An Interview with Julien Berthier

by Nathan SpoorPosted on

Julien Berthier is truly one of the more imaginative artists working in the conceptual realms of functional and challenging art. Hailing from the cosmopolitan hot spot of Paris, France, Berthier continues to catch and entertain the eyes of art enthusiasts in the know. Join us as the artist takes time out from his latest creative venture to chat with Hi Fructose about his work.

Hello Julien, and thanks for taking time out to chat with Hi Fructose and share your work with the readers. So to begin, how do you define your work? Is this sculpture? Dimensional or interactive art?

I would say it doesn’t really matter. I use the most appropriate technique for conveying ideas (it can be sculpture but also photo, video, drawing, etching, public interventions etc.).

You seem to gravitate toward your native France in your exhibitions and public displays. Is this the most fertile ground for your interests, a show of convenience or necessity?

Of course a lot is happening in France, but my first gallerie was in Cologne and I had another one in London and Italy, so I show a lot across Europe. And I would say my work could be done anywhere and hopefully not being linked to a national identity, which isn’t the most interesting classification for art.

Please share with the readers how you got on this path of interactive and public interplay artwork. Have you always been drawn to teasing the public mind and where did this all begin?

My work is not really interactive, but it does deal with the public sphere, therefore interacts with others. But the public doesn’t make the work happen.  
I want my work to be hyper-realistic and my proposals are sort of ghostly answers to public or political (in a large sense) matters. Therefore it has always been interesting for me to confront at one point the pieces I build outside galleries and museums. And when I use the work outside I neither say nor hide the fact that it is art. I definitely like the idea that people can think it is part of the world and hopefully wonder why this was ever invented.

The piece that’s caught the most attention here thus far is Love Love, a wonderfully challenged ship that seems to be sinking – yet is completely functional. How time consuming is it to realize such a unique endeavor?

Hard to say concerning preparation, but was built in 3 weeks with two friends.

Is a work such as Love Love on constant display somewhere in France, in a private collection or do you just take it out on weekends for the obvious looks on passers by?

The piece is sold to a collector. It travels to shows from time to time, being used on different locations and contexts among which a show in London, just in front of the Lehmann Brothers building after they bankrupted when the crisis “started” in 2008.

Another of your many works caught my eye and I couldn’t help but laugh for a good while. Could you tell us about “Les Spécialistes”, how it came about and if you have any future installations in store like this? Were you able to observe how the public reacted to its appearance?

The piece was made with an artist friend Simon Boudvin, whose work you would definitely like. 

Historically, Paris was asked to lign up its buildings for urbanistic reasons. Nevertheless, and especially in the historical center, you still have what we call in French “blind walls”. It is on one of them that we illegally placed our entry door, that totally respects the surroundings architectural codes. Our fake entry door therefore disappears and is with no doubt accepted by the neighborhood. It is also now totally part of the city since it was graffittied many times and cleaned by the city services.
I don’t necessarily have similar projects, but this process of outdoor interventions (illegal but without negative consequences in the city, like the concept of Neglectable Collectings I invented and regularly use in some pieces) definitely stays a part of my work.

We’re very grateful for you time Julien, and are very curious what you have coming up. Are there any special exhibitions or new projects that you’re revealing soon?

I am working on a bronze sculpture that I am very excited about. It is called “Monster” and has to do with public sculpture and city norms.

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