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FIAC 2013: all you need to know

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Where in Corten steel, Jean Dupuy, 2013, Loevenbruck gallery. 3D simulation by BlackMeal®.

Courtesy Galerie Loevenbruck, Paris. © ADAGP, Paris.

Discover Fiac 2013 with its director Jennifer Flay. The best way to know everything about this event of contemporary art ...

The 2013 Fiac, which takes place in Paris from 24 to 27 October 2013, celebrates its 40th anniversary. For this anniversary, 184 galleries from 25 countries settle at the Grand Palais while modern art and contemporary art invest various places in the capital. Preview visit with Jennifer Flay, its director.

FIAC is an international event. It was not the case when you took the artistic direction in 2003?

Jennifer Flay: An article published in Beaux Arts magazine this autumn can summarize the situation: the magazine headline "The FIAC, 30 years - birthday or burial?" Not only was the event moribund, but a competing fair, Frieze, was launched in London. FIAC only welcomed 30% of foreign galleries, including few prominent dealers. The Selection Committee seemed to ignore the young scene, it was dangerous. Without projection into the future, the event closed on itself. Everything was to rethink.

How did you develop the event?

Jennifer Flay: I had been working in the art world since 1981, I had a gallery myself, I knew the market well. I first asked my friends, galleries Chantal Crousel, Air de Paris ..., then, other professionals who counted in France. A fair can not survive without local support. I had a conviction: for my generation and others before us, the FIAC had played a platform role of exchanges, meetings. Was it right to let a thirty-year-old event go down? It was about the radiation of the French scene! They trusted me. At the same time, we sensitized our relations abroad and we moved closer to the institutions. At the time, I formed a duet with Martin Béthenot, who had held the position of delegate for the Visual Arts, he was close to the public sector. We were very complementary.

The fact that the FIAC is held in Paris is obviously an asset?

No city offers such a wealth of heritage sites and cultural institutions! In just ten years, we have seen the creation of the Quai Branly museum, the Maison Rouge, and the Palais de Tokyo. Foreign amateurs do not come to Paris for the only FIAC, they appreciate a lifestyle, gastronomy, fashion ... As for the Grand Palais, it is a unique, prestigious. The place is conducive to the establishment of favorable conditions for trading and high level. In addition, I notice the interest that the French take in their culture. From where the colossal number of visitors: exhibitions outside the walls included, it amounts to 500 000 each year.

The FIAC seems, more and more, to extend through the capital

Jennifer Flay: She returned to the Grand Palais in 2006. She was then present in the Cour carrée du Louvre. The Tuileries Garden lies exactly between the two; it was our first site outside the walls, inaugurated that year. This pleasure garden lends itself, historically, to the presentation of works of art.

Do you occupy the Jardin des Plantes?

Jennifer Flay: A beautiful idea. It comes from the director of the National Museum of Natural History, Thomas Grénon. The creations presented are related to nature. We will see, for example, an extraordinary sculpture of Briton Barry Flanagan, a hare five meters high! The Menagerie, the Great Gallery of Evolution, the exotic greenhouses, are all places that inspire artists. For example, the visual artist Eva Kotatkova, a Czech, will perform a performance in the large aviary around the myth of Icarus.

What's happening, then, Place Vendome?

Jennifer Flay: Renovation work on the Ritz disfigures the square. We no longer see its mineral beauty, its magnificent proportions. There is an impression of chaos. In this troubled context, the Japanese Kawamata builds huts on the facades of buildings or at the top of the column. Ephemeral barracks that suggest urban disorder, precariousness, survival ... But the work in situ is placed so as not to touch the classified facades.

The FIAC arrives on the banks of the Seine, it's new?

Jennifer Flay: Yes, thanks to their pedestrian redevelopment. For the first time, works are settling on the banks of the Seine rive gauche. Among them, a sculpture of Hans Peter Feldmann which represents a car turned upside down - wink of the conceptual artist to this fast track on which one does not roll any more! In addition to the formal beauty of an artistic creation, I like that it stimulates the imagination, that it raises questions, that it causes intelligently.

River shuttles would be planned?

Jennifer Flay: They will connect the different sites of the FIAC. It's my dream for a long time. Especially, when I come back from the Venice Biennale, where we go by vaporetto. I am from Auckland, New Zealand, a city bordered by the sea on one side, by the ocean on the other, I like water. It's time for Parisians to use their Seine again.

October 24 to 27, 2013. Grand Palais. fiac.com

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