Last year, Paris’s FIAC got into the satellite fair game, launching (Off)icielle, which focuses on younger dealers. This year, (Off)icielle returns with FIAC, but it is joined by a newcomer fair, Paris Internationale, which has been started by five local galleries: Galeries Crevecoeur, High Art, Antoine Lévi, Gregor Staiger, and Sultana.
Paris Internationale opens tomorrow and runs through October 24 at a historic hôtel particulier located between the Palais de Tokyo and Arc de Triomphe in the center of Paris. It is modestly sized, with just 41 exhibitors—34 galleries and 7 nonprofits from 14 countries—but they are a closely watched group, including Lulu (Mexico City), Chapter (New York), 1857 (Oslo), and Croy Nielsen.
Announcing the fair, the founders said their aim is “fostering new advanced initiatives in contemporary art,” blurring the line between fair and exhibition and establishing an event that is a hybrid of a commercial initiative and an art project. It also includes a robust talk series and a performance program curated by Vincent Honoré of the David Roberts Art Foundation and U.K.–based artist Zoe Williams.
In an email interview—lightly edited and condensed, and published below—the fair’s managing director, Silvia Amon, and its five founding galleries detail their ambitious plans for Paris Internationale.
ARTnews: How did the idea for Paris Internationale come about?
Paris Internationale: Last July, some of us were thinking about doing something during the Paris Art Week since [it was in] a few months, and it naturally came to merge and join forces so as to organize something meaningful. Things developed very quickly.
In your announcement, you mentioned developing a model for “fostering new advanced initiatives in contemporary art.” Why do you think such a project is necessary, and what are your goals for successfully achieving this?
We do this for Paris. As gallerists, we travel the world all year long, we meet people, we discover new artists, new situations, there is the thrill and the fascination to bring those novelties to the Parisian and French eyes; the mere pleasure to share this with everyone, to welcome, to host in our town.
How did this ethos inform your selection of the participating exhibitors?
Many of them are friends, or in the least we closely follow their programs and our routes sometimes cross. We aim to become an epicenter of a generation of exhibitors, though not tastemakers.
You have also conceived the event as an art fair that is as much a commercial venture as it is an alternative artistic project. What is your definition of “alternative,” and how does it relate to the way you’ve gone about establishing this atmosphere for the fair?
The locus was fundamental; we looked for a place that naturally gives a certain attitude. The double abandoned townhouse in the heart of Paris is more orientated towards a rupture with the classical schemes of art fairs, thought it is not a revolution because we tried to mix rough derelict Haussmannian architectures with more rationalist “white-cubesques” interventions. This is why we also wanted to collaborate with Emilie and Nicolas from Dorval-Bory Architectes bureau—they have a very interesting vision of the space interiors and highly practical logistical skills.
In terms of the projects you have organized for the fair, you’ve themed them around “Paris (from the ’70s).” What inspired you to evoke this era?
Well, many, it is difficult to list them but what naturally comes to mind is the vivid, strong, and effervescent creativity from this epoch, not only in art, but in the cinema, the music, the literature, the theatres; the ’70s idea of Paris is certainly one that we all keep in mind in our common memories. Along with the exhibitors, the performance designed by Vincent Honoré and Zoe Williams will highlight those concepts, the ghost of something that does not exist but we all think about even in its clichés.
In a similar nostalgic vein, did this inform your choice of venue for the fair? More specifically, is there anything special/historical about the hotel?
The hotel has lived many lives, way before we all were born. When we visited it, it was obvious to us that this was the perfect place in all its beautiful contradictions.
With the strong international presence and the mandate you’ve set, what is your vision for expanding the fair in the future?
We’ll see, we have ideas growing constantly and the group of brains we form is an infinite source of dreams, perspectives, and visions. However, we want to focus on this first event [to ensure we] respectfully [handle] the trust the participants have given us. We’ll surely have to set parameters differently next year, some fine settings, but the basis is here, the attitude is the right one.