Interview with Catherine Barnabé


Catherine Barnabé (born 1984) is a Montreal based curator and author. She is the co-founder of Espace Projet.


What inspires you?

Basically: artists, my readings. And above all: traveling and be in a foreign environment.


Can you tell us about your relationship with your work?

I really really like it. I can’t do anything else. This is really a cliché but most of the time it doesn’t seems like work to me.


What is your process of selecting artists for an exhibition?

I have different ways of working. Sometimes it begins with a subject that I want to explore and I then choose the artists. But other times it is the artists that came first: I saw practices that goes well together or artists with whom I want to work with. In my work at Espace Projet I usually think about a subject, then make an open call and choose the artists from that.

For this exhibition, I selected artists with whom I worked with in the last years, I will work with in the next months or I want to work with. It is really about what is in my mind these days. Those six practices are linked by the notion of geography: I’m developing a series of exhibitions about the relation between the human and his environment. This selection reflects where I am now in my reflection and where I’m going.



Do you have any advice for early career curators?

I am still a young curator so maybe I will just say: do whatever you want and make your own projects. Otherwise you will not be satisfied. I think that it is important to have a curatorial statement, as an artist has an artistic statement. This helps you focus and make coherent links between exhibitions. I think it is important to have a discourse, a singular view of seeing the works and a cohesion in your work. This is what I’m trying to do now with the project about geography.


What kind of books do you usually read?

I read novels, essays and magazines on art, sometimes poetry.


Do you have any bad habits? And does it affect your work?

I’m so last minute. I’m always doing the work just before delivering it. I just can’t do anything in advance. It is affecting my work sometimes when I work with other people, otherwise it is just putting me under pressure, but I work better under pressure.


Are you working on any new projects these days?

Yes, I’m developing a series of exhibitions about the notion of geography. Since the research of my master thesis, the question of the space is always present in my work by his relation to the artist or to the time. At first, it was the artist who walks in the city searching ways to be able to create a connection with it and who has an anachronic definition of the city. Then, it was the space where the time as passes on and where we can see the trace of is passage. After, it has been the exhibition space that can be conceptualized and constructed with a narrative intention. Finally, in the last months, I found a direction line that I will work with in the next years and that reunites my main interests. Most of my projects will be around the notion of geography: the relation a human can has with his environment. With this basic guideline I will be able to approach the questions of territory, displacement, transition, landscape, temporality and space by intimate, political, social and narrative ways.



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