Interview: Art Night
RESIST speaks to Philippine Nguyen, Art Night co-founder
Thursday 29th June, 2017
"The concept is simple: it's a one night free contemporary arts festival in extraordinary spaces"
Art Night 2017 will see London’s East End transformed with free art, performance and music by some of the world’s leading artists for the night of Saturday 1 July 2017. The line-up includes Jake and Dinos Chapman animating a vacant warehouse at London Dock, guided meditation with Ian Whittlesea in the Bascule Chamber of Tower Bridge, and Melanie Manchot invites the public to join a mass dance class hosted in Exchange Square at Broadgate. Art Night 2017 is a collaboration with the Whitechapel Gallery and curated by independent curator and writer Fatoş Üstek. As part of Art Night 2017 Carsten Nicolai (Alva Noto) and Boiler Room collaborate to curate a night of sonic experimentation from leading artists. A rare coming together of leading noise makers spearheaded by Nicolai, the night promises to be an all-nighter of audio visual goodness and an opportunity to see a lineup of pioneering artists back to back in a legendary London club. Stunning line up includes Errorsmith, Lee Gamble, Alva Noto, Mira Calix, Paul Purgas (Emptyset), NÍDIA, and Rrose.
We spoke to co-founder Philippine Nguyen about the Art Night concept and events.
Who are you and what do you do?
My name is Philippine Nguyen, I am one of the founders of Art Night, a new London-based contemporary arts festival, inviting leading artists to take over extraordinary spaces, over the course of one night. I am initially from Paris, where a similar festival exsists under the name Nuit Blanche (meaning sleepless night). My co-founder Ksenia actually worked at the Mayor's Office in Paris some time ago, on the Nuit Blanche festival, which is where the idea for Art Night comes from.
Tell us the concept behind Art Night?
The concept is simple: it's a one night free contemporary arts festival in extraordinary spaces.
It's one night because it creates this momentum or excitement. It's free because we want everyone to be able to attend, regardless of income, which is why we are working with a wide number of supporters, including international auction house Phillips and the Arts Council. The focus is contemporary arts in all forms: we have invited leading artists to present projects, which are as diverse as a mass participatory dance, the transformation of a cafe into a cocktail bar which is also an immersive artwork, a Club Night with Boiler Room with artists that are DJs / DJs that are artists to perform, a guided meditation under the Thames... and much more.
"...in a context where spaces are becoming increasingly privatised or closed to the general public, it is essential for both Londoners and visitors to be able discover them and engage with their city and its incredible heritage"
We are using iconic landmarks such as Christ Church Spitalfields, public spaces at St Katherine Docks and Exchange Square, Broadgate and secret venues from a Masonic Temple, the vacant Nicholls & Clarke Showrooms to the Bascule Chamber below Tower Bridge and the candlelit and ornate Dennis Severs' House. The festival has to be one night otherwise we wouldn't be able to open up or use most of these sites. At the same time, we're ensuring the festival's legacy, by having projects remain onsite longer or permanently, or be gifted to public collections nationwide with the support of organisations such as Art Fund, Contemporary Art Society and Outset.
Why does transforming and reinventing spaces through art matter?
It matters as in a context where spaces are becoming increasingly privatised or closed to the general public, it is essential for both Londoners and visitors to be able discover them and engage with their city and its incredible heritage. It is also a way to discover little known venues such as the White Chapel Building, which has recently be reinvented and reopened and has a stunning atrium where it's actually possible to go in and have a drink. It's a great way for people to feel more ownership over their city and see it in a new light, transformed through art.
What's your overarching mission in doing Art Night?
We're trying to widen audiences for contemporary arts, first because it is a free festival, and most projects are either open without any prior bookings or in public spaces so many passers-by will enjoy the art. It's a good way of bringing the art to people, rather than expecting them to push the door of a museum or gallery, which a lot of people sometimes don't dare to do or don't think it is for them.
Tell us what is inspiring you or giving you hope right now in your field?
It is difficult to answer this. I really liked Wolfgang Tillmans pro-EU poster campaign before the referendum, very beautiful and profound and at the same time really accessible and relatable, but sadly we all know the outcome of that...
Follow Art Night online:
Art Night x Boiler Room (now sold out) https://www.facebook.com/events/1819449438372599/