Amandine Hervey is the founder of Mur Nomade: a curatorial office and gallery based in Hong Kong. Sabrina Möller talked to Amandine about her story and the extensive program of Mur Nomade …
What was the driving force beyond your decision to found a gallery?
Certainly my love of art and the pleasure I take in sharing it with visitors. I worked as an independent curator for a while before setting up Mur Nomade. At that time, the artists I was working with and myself were spending a lot of time and energy to promote our ideas, to fund our projects and to find interesting exhibition spaces. So I decided to test a new formula by setting up Mur Nomade: it is both a project office presenting curatorial projects and a commercial gallery.
You are focusing on working closely with local and international artists to create a cultural exchange. What exactly is Mur Nomade about?
Indeed there are elements of cultural exchange and creative encounters in nearly everything we do. Mur Nomade is the French translation of ‘nomadic wall’. Nomadic are the walls of the exhibition space, as we present site-specific exhibitions outside our gallery space, whenever we believe it will provide a better context for visitors to engage with the artworks. Nomadic are the walls of the artist’s studio, as we offer travel grants or invite overseas artists to work in Hong Kong to stimulate emulation and encourage experimentation. And nomadic are the walls between artistic disciplines, as we blend visual arts with music or dance.
What are the biggest challenges in curating shows that open up a dialogue between different places, cultures and artists?
Artistic collaborations are challenging at many levels. In fact some artists prefer working alone in their studios, and I respect that. Therefore the challenge is to find connections not only on the artistic, aesthetical or conceptual levels, but also to evaluate whether the collaboration will be fruitful in terms of matching personalities.
So when artists accept embarking on our projects, they take risks and they are prepared to confront their ideas to the unknown and to be shaken up, but they do so because they believe ‘1+1=3’. They are convinced you can learn about yourself by learning about others.
‚Mur Nomade‘ is mainly not interested in being profit-driven, but you have a great program with artist residences, collaborative art projects, workshops and initiatives. How does that work? What is the secret beyond having such an extensive program without being economic in the first place?
Mur Nomade’s commercial activity, as a gallery, supports artists and funds the non-profit initiatives of the curatorial office. This model gives us freedom and flexibility. However in practice, Mur Nomade’s team approaches all the projects with the same attention to the curatorial strategy and the same unconditional passion for art, whether they are gallery exhibitions or street performances, ephemeral artworks, site-specific installations, cultural exchange projects…
As an art historian and curator you were already living in Paris, London and Tokyo. What makes Hong Kong such an interesting place to you?
Hong Kong is a place where the entire art scene is still under construction, with a genuine can-do spirit. Hong Kong offered me a lot and I feel very grateful. As a European, I was raised considering art as almost sacred, and I do believe traditions and historical roots are important, as you need to know the past to understand the present. But an exaggerated respect of the establishment and the belief in some immutable rules and practices can become a bit suffocating. There is always another way. Hong Kong taught me: never take ‘no’ for an answer.
Could you tell us more about the current art scene in Hong Kong?
There is a great variety of shows and programs in visual arts as well as in the fields of music, dance or in the literary world. But outside large productions and big names, I must say it is not very easy for the general public to find information on what’s going on all around Hong Kong.
Thank you for your time, Amandine!
Interview by Sabrina Möller