Honey Pump meets LIVE WILD Collective
By Lizzy Vartanian Collier
In 2014, Charlotte Fox, Anna Hahoutoff, Marguerite Horay, Lucie Khahoutian, Lila Khosrovian, Camille Lévêque, and Ina Lounguine came together to form LIVE WILD Collective. The all-female art group has roots in six countries and collaborates together online to create photography, videos, and gifs.
Heavily influenced by Dada, Surrealism, and collage, LIVE WILD’s work triggers social and political debates, communicating with audiences across cultures and geographies. “We gather forces and thoughts, and build our platform as an exquisite corpse”, says LIVE WILD, “We strive to be a voice from the people, to the people and of the people. We test the truth of images, the boundaries between reality and fantasy. We discuss fate, femininity, religion, memory, cultural heritage and identity.” And, with that, Honey Pump spoke to the collective’s founder Camille Lévêque about how they operate.
Image by Anna Hahoutoff
Collaboration between Camille Lévêque and Lucie Khahoutian
Collaboration between Camille Lévêque and Lucie Khahoutian
Honey Pump: How did you all meet?
Camille Lévêque: Marguerite and Ina are my cousins, Anna my closest friend, and Charlotte, Lila and Lucie, good friends from years ago. We all have a lot in common whether it is in our aesthetic tastes or in our personal history. We all have multicultural backgrounds and share the fact that our families had to migrate to other countries so this aspect of our life and education is rather important in our works.
How do you collaborate and work together when you are spread across the world?
We work together in person very often actually. For some of us on daily basis. As a group we are used to communicat[ing] via the Internet as we are all spread out across the globe, we constantly keep in touch and manage to work side by side, even sometimes on specific collaborative projects.
Though we are very playful with the Internet, and it is our main and favorite platform, we remain very low key online. Most of us don’t have social network accounts and the ones that do are under pseudonyms. We try to centralize everything we produce and [try to have] all of our communication in the same place to have more impact on each other. The Internet is a wonderful and limitless platform, often neglected by photographers. People seem to be shy around it and fear to be stigmatized or discredited, I think. The Internet is so much more interesting than any gallery in terms of showcase. It’s free, timeless and worldwide. How much better can it get?
What do you think are the benefits of being global are?
Mostly, we are able to reach very different kind[s] of audiences and networks. But we also bring different backgrounds to the table, we’re inspired by what’s around us on [a] daily basis and the confrontation of these realities creates an interesting patchwork.
Can you tell me about your shared love of Dada?
Dada was a European avant-garde art movement in the early 20th century. The movement was aiming to break every academic rule (including the one to be defined as a movement – there is no such thing as “Dadaism”) and was spreading via public gatherings, publications, demonstrations and through a wide variety of media. The movement later influenced groups including Surrealism and Fluxus (among others) to which we also feel very related.
Whether it is in its multidisciplinary aspect or the fight the movement was fighting, we all feel very close to their manifesto(s) and feel like it has not aged and is still very relevant. We know repressive politics in Ukraine, in Armenia, in Russia, even in the United-States. That being said, Dada, Surrealism, or Fluxus were known for their capacity to mock everything, themselves especially. We are very attached to this angle and want to keep a playful tone in our work. These movements made us realize how much sense it would make to gather forces and thoughts, and we created our platform as an exquisite cadaver. We work blindly and then gather works and see what we have as a group.
Dada was founded nearly 100 years ago, how does your collective work extend on Dada’s principles in the 21st century?
Dada (and then Fluxus) is an anti-art movement, an interaction between activism and art production, an encounter between various forms of expression. Its production is meant to be extravagant to point fingers at life’s absurdities and mock conventions and fetters as well as to question the role of the artist and their place in society. Nowadays, more than ever we have multiple battles to fight: global warming, oppressive politics, increasing social inequalities, lack of education, racism. Our website is for us the ultimate platform, on which we have full freedom of exhibition to a worldwide audience for free. Just like artists during Dada or Fluxus were pushing back galleries and museums to focus on alternative options of exhibitions, through random spaces and new forms (happenings, performances…)
We believe art is due another revolution. It’s hard to conceive its scale as the number of artists or mediums are clearly larger than decades ago and with the presence of digital content and space maybe we don’t have enough distance to fully comprehend what we’re living. I think we are living the biggest revolution yet; we’re completely submerged by the technological revolution and can’t seem to fully realize what’s happening to us.
More than ever we need to fight, for education, for human intelligence, for genuine feelings. The world has changed so much it’s overwhelming and scary, but the fights, strangely enough, remain the same, we just have new ones to fight on top of the old ones. Maybe the new art revolution comes through a move backward for once. Maybe we need to move more slowly, to think thoroughly what we are doing, and definitely, art needs to be used to raise awareness on the state of our planet.
Can you tell us a bit about how you and Lucie approach the work given your Armenian background?
We are both working on ‘Armenity’ and the idea of cultural heritage. We both are part of the Armenian community, her being Armenian and me part of its diaspora in France. We thought it would be interesting to create a visual conversation about both our experiences and views on Armenia, its diaspora and its traditions. We confront very different aesthetics to highlight the encounter sometimes chaotic of both communities and how we experience fantasy and reality around our own representation. We blend archive, objects, digital photography, collage and virtual reality to discuss these themes and try to establish a new visual representation for our history.
Is this (in the Armenian work) the first time you’ve included sculpture in your collective works?
Yes. Though we are doing a lot of in-situ installations this is the first time there is an actual sculpture piece in one of our shows. This has opened a door and there is more to come!
What are your plans for the future?
In the very near future, there is the publication of a book planned, a couple of shows in France and more shows in Europe. [These will include t]he new sculpture pieces I was talking about and some new images from Lucie.
Image by Camille Lévêque
Image by Charlotte Fox
Image by Marguerite Horay
Image by Ina Lounguine
Image by Lucie Khahoutian
Lizzy Vartanian Collier is a writer and curator based in London, specializing in contemporary art from the Middle East and North Africa. Her work has been published by Canvas, Harper’s Bazaar Arabia, Hyperallergic, After Nyne, the Guardian, Ibraaz, Jdeed, EVN Report, Tribe and Suitcase along with many other publications. Her recent exhibition ‘Perpetual Movement’, which took place during Arab Women Artists Now (AWAN) Festival 2018, was featured in Vogue Arabia and the Art Newspaper, and later traveled to the debut Armenia Art Fair. Lizzy is also the founder of the Gallery Girl. You can follow her work on www.gallerygirl.co and on Instagram @gallerygirlldn and Twitter @lizzycollier