The Portrait Room. Portrait#2: Yves Aupetitallot

Yves Aupetitallot, director of MAGASIN-CNAC

Yves Aupetitallot has too many catalogues to unwrap, and clear ideas.

Born in 1955, Yves Aupetitallot is the director of the MAGASIN-CNAC (Centre National d’Art Contemporain) of Grenoble, and not only. When I ask how he splits his time between curating, directing and teaching (History of Contemporary Art at the ENSBA of Lyon), he smiles and says that he is just one, but in different places; just an art professional, but with several and complementary roles. His career: MA in History of art and archeology; direction of the Center for Contemporary Art in Nevers (1984-1987) and of the Departement of Contemporary Art of the European Council in Antwerp (1992-1993); curator of Project Unité in Firminy (1992-1994) and of the Musée Cantonal des Beaux-Arts in Lausanne (2001-2006), besides several art shows. From 1996, when he was 41 years old, Aupetitallot has modeled Magasin’s cultural policy according to his approach to curating. That can be resumed in: big solo shows and carte blanche to the artist. To be a curator means, to use his words, being a tool for the artist: certainly not being passive but able to hide a (quite often) self-centred authorship behind the real protagonist of the exhibition, the artist indeed. Each time, this collaboration assumes a different shape. Sometimes the curator has to be present just at the beginning to design and structure the project of the exhibition, then disappear and leave the artist free to work autonomously. That is exactly the case of the current exhibition on view at Magasin till the 1st of September: The Unborn Museum, by Italian artist Pietro Roccasalva. A “micro-retrospective” that takes stock of the last ten years of his production. The two first met during the group shows Tableau and Sindrome Italiana, both curated by Aupetitallot at Magasin. More than one year ago, the director decided to invite him for his first comprehensive solo show in France. Yves Aupetitallot states that, in his view of what curating is, curator and artist are connected by the creative exhibition project they build together, in a common participation to its evolution. His choice of preferring solos could be seen as a reaction to the “rampant invasion” of group shows, in which artists are sometimes “selected depending on the requirements of the curatorial text.” In other words, it could be even considered as a way to take a stand against the tyranny of the curator’s will at the expense of art. Yves Aupetitallot makes me understand that, according to his experience, the artist is the most important element to consider while making a show because, after all, no exhibition would exist without them. Curating – not unlike institutions – is just a tool for the production of culture.


Useful links I went through getting ready for this interview:

Yves Aupetitallot’s Wikipedia Page

Website of the MAGASIN-CNAC

Video interview to Yves Aupetitallot about the cultural role and strategy of the center (Fr)

Photo credit: Blaise Adilon.


Tue 06/18/2013, 32° C, Yves Aupetitallot’s office, MAGASIN-CNAC, Grenoble, France

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