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Rencontre avec : Studio Élémentaires

Since the creation of their studio in 2013, Apolline Couverchel and Gauthier Haziza have been signing poetic installations and embarking on crazy projects. Meet this duo who commands admiration.

Muuuz: What is your respective background, and why did you decide to join forces to found Studio Élémentaires in 2013?
Apolline Couverchel: After my baccalaureate, I studied two years at École Duperré, then scenography at the École nationale supérieure des arts et techniques du théâtre de Lyon. Then I worked for design and scenography studios in Paris. Gauthier and I met at ENSATT, and quickly wished to work together. It is also at ENSATT that we learned to tell stories with light and space.
Gauthier Haziza: I studied art history, theatrical studies options, at university, light design at ENSATT, and marketing and communication at Panthéon Assas University. In 2013, we founded our own studio and started working on various projects. The same year, French chef Paul Pairet invited us to collaborate with him to create an installation as part of the exhibition. Cookbook, art and the culinary process at the Beaux-Arts in Paris. In 2015, we went to Shanghai to participate in an artistic residency organized by the Swatch group. On this occasion, we worked for four months at the Swatch Art Peace Hotel and created in situ our Cflying-iel, a kite in the colors of the sky which was noticed by Shang Xia, a Chinese brand created by Hermès, with which we then collaborated. Today, we live in Brussels and work at the Zaventem Ateliers.

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How did you come up with the idea of ​​immersive kinetic installations? Why did you choose to move away from the theater to focus on contemporary art and design?
AC: The theater has fueled our imagination a lot, but we have also discovered its limits. We therefore wanted to detach ourselves from the text, because in the theater everything is at the service of language. Today, we work with light, movement and space, without making theater, but we are constantly inspired by it.
GH: Light, temporality, movement and narration ultimately bring this notion of living art which is characteristic of theater. There is always a narrative behind our objects. For example, in Silo, we took over Notre-Dame de Bernay Abbey and created an installation echoing the history of the place. In the center of the building, we erected an eight-meter-high agricultural silo filled with popcorn, because the church was transformed into a corn market in 1814.

In terms of materials, colors and technologies, what constitutes your installations?
AC: In our creations, the light sources are simple and varied. We use colored filters, light filters, raw materials. Movement is our starting point. We seek to combine the beauty of matter with the beauty of technology to create movement in space. New technologies give poetry and magic to our installations.
GH: We renew ourselves a lot, so we don't lock ourselves into a style. With our mobile lamp Hypnos, we focused on the relationship between sand and light to shape the object. We like simple things but behind the apparent simplicity of our objects hides a great technical complexity.

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What do you question in your creations?
AC: With our installations, we are interested in magic, poetry and storytelling, and we seek to surprise the viewer.
GH: The question is not stopped. We are very curious, and we draw our inspiration from various fields. When we collaborate with a place, we can learn from the history of the site. When we design our own objects, we question the essence of our work. How to see? How to represent? How to hang? To create is also to tell.

How do you play with perception?
AC: Our objects immerse spectators in a sort of gaze experience. We use the tricks of the theater to create effects. In our facility Dichrofield created for the Jam Hotel in Brussels, the mechanism is visible. In some of our creations, the technique is very beautiful, and we wanted to mount it. In others, we prefer to keep a part of the mystery. As in the theater, we learned to make illusions, lures.
GH: We play with perception thanks to artifices, which are inspired by magic and theater. When we present our installations, the viewers often look for special effects. In Bernay, the director of the Le Piaf theater commissioned a theater servant from us. We made our Ghost lamps by mounting light bulbs on a steel structure. At nightfall, these lamps start to light up and move as if by magic, and then resonate with the mural frescoes by artist Elliott Causse.

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Could you tell me about Umbra, your last moving sculpture inspired by the phenomenon of the total eclipse?
AC: At the last Collectible Fair, when we exhibited Umbra, the visitors stopped to contemplate the lamp. In a world governed by efficiency, finding yourself facing objects with mysterious functioning routs. Umbra has a motor that allows the lamp disc to rotate very slowly. When the light is on, the disc rotates according to a random time, defined according to the duration of the total solar eclipses of the XNUMXst century.
GH: Umbra is a light, hanging lamp that has its own life cycle. With Appoline we often reflect on natural phenomena. Recently, we embarked on a research work on the eclipse, and studied the most basic movements of this spectacular natural phenomenon.

What are your other projects and collaborations planned soon?
AC: We will collaborate with a publishing house to present our creation Umbra.
GH: We are working on our installation System, which will be exhibited in the lobby of a coworking space on avenue Louise in Brussels. We are also focusing on new self-produced creations.

What would be your dream installation?
AC: We would like to draw inspiration from the Japanese tradition of Hannabi, a minimalist version of fireworks that takes up the flowering cycle of a flower.
GH: Indeed, we would very much like to work on fireworks, because it combines space, light, color, representation.

To learn more, visit Studio Elementaires website.

Photographs: © Studio Élémentaires

Léa Pagnier

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