Interview by Martin Masetto
Vincent P. recently launched Dormeur, his latest zine, as part of his exhibition (14 May – 3 June 2011) at Arts & Sciences PROJECTS. During his week-long stay in New York, he sat down for an interview with Martin Masetto.
Vincent P. is Wide Awake
the Paris-based artist arrives in New York for an exhibition of his Dormeur project
May 13, 2011. Greene Street, SoHo. Vincent P. and Martin Masetto, exhausted from days of preparation for the opening of Vincent P.’s installation ‘Dormeur’ at Arts & Sciences PROJECTS, search for a sweet, refreshing reward from Van Leeuwen’s ice cream truck. They make an art pit stop at Third Streaming to see the Alvin Baltrop exhibition. Against the backdrop of a slide projector showing Baltrop’s images of a gritty and sexy New York of yesteryear, Vincent and Martin take a seat and talk about Vincent’s new zine and exhibition.
MM: Vincent, tell me more about how the Dormeur project originated, and how it developed from a zine into an installation.
VP: Can I have one hour to think about the answer?
VP: Thank you. I think it was just an accident when I was sleeping. I took a picture of myself with my webcam by chance while I was sleeping, then…
MM: Was it really an accident? VP: For sure.
MM: Well, the reason I ask is that sometimes accidents aren’t accidents.
VP: Yeah, but it was. And then I liked the picture, so I decided to continue taking pictures of myself in my sleep. When you and I started discussing a possible collaboration between “Le Gros Monsieur” and Arts & Sciences Projects, I didn’t know what I was going to do. I was thinking so much, I was sleeping, and thinking about sleeping; so then I decided to make use of all my sleep photos. I printed all 600 pictures that I took over the course of… I think it was three or four months… and I assembled everything to make a special zine and a special installation. Yeah, that’s it.
MM: Let’s talk about “Le Gros Monsieur.” I know you are one of the founding members, but can you tell me more about your work and the group’s mission?
VP: Sure. “Le Gros Monsieur” is an art collective. Our primary goal is to publish zines and to share our work, even with people who are not interested in zines or art. We distribute our publications in random mailboxes, and we even leave them on car windshields for people to find. We believe that people who don’t go to art exhibitions and say they aren’t interested only say this because they don’t know what it’s all about…so we try to get in touch with these people. We launched a website to showcase work by “Le Gros Monsieur” artists, and to introduce ourselves. We added some brief artists’ bios, resumes, and we show pictures and videos of our books on the site. Our goal is to trade our work with others and to reach out to people, even if at first they don’t seem interested. I know, it may sound weird, but we really want to be accessible. We mail stuff out all the time. We do mail art and send our zines and books to people for free. You just have to provide us with a mailing address, some stamps and we’ll send you some stuff.
MM: Vincent, it seems like the only thing you get through the mail nowadays is junk and advertising. And yet mail is your preferred means of distribution. Why? Can you tell me a little bit more about your relationship with the postal system? Do you ever envision “Le Gros Monsieur” doing any online publications?
VP: I will start with the second question. We will never do online publications, but I’m sure you already knew my answer. We are not against online publications. I think they are a good way to reach out to people, but I think “Le Gros Monsieur” definitely loves tangible things. That’s probably why we send books through the mail. We want to publish, we want to edit, and we want to give you something printed on paper, even if most of the time it’s simply photocopied. When we have time, we do serigraphy. We like to do this just to remind people of the feel of the ink on paper and the smell. We want to bring all these senses together and right now we don’t think we could do that online, but maybe in the future? Who knows. Now, for the first question about mail, that’s not easy to answer. Why do I use mail? Probably because I am
someone who is reserved and I want to meet people. I’m afraid of their reaction, so through the mail, I’m not afraid. You know, when you send something to someone, even if it’s someone you don’t know, you don’t have to expect an answer, you don’t have to expect anything. At the same time you know that they will probably be happy to get something in their mailbox, and this makes me smile. So that’s enough, so… that’s it. I’m probably afraid of reactions. That’s why it’s very difficult for me to show my work. I want to be really sincere in my work, and with mail art I think I can be sincere with someone, even if I’ve never met them in person. So I post things regularly to people I don’t know. That’s how we met!
MM: That’s right! VP: I just looked at your work, liked it and mailed you some of my work.
MM: Vive la poste! Vincent, are you excited about your installation at Arts & Sciences Projects?
VP: I’m very excited! That’s probably why I chose to focus the installation on a picture of myself sleeping, to maybe show something that is very difficult to share… something personal. Since I was inspired in my sleep, I thought the exhibition should also be visible in the dark, so I used phosphorescent paint in the zines and the installation. Actually, the installation works with lights or without lights; when you turn out the lights you can see more images and discover even new and different elements, and some of the images you could see in the light disappear, but they are all actually the same kind of pictures. They are all of me sleeping; that’s it. There are also some free photos that people can take so they can keep a souvenir and have something to take home with them.
Vincent P.’s hand-printed zine, Dormeur (ed. 67) is available online through Le Gros Monsieur and in New York at Arts & Sciences PROJECTS, Dashwood Books, Printed Matter, and Spoonbill & Sugartown Books.
For more information, contact email@example.com or visit legrosmonsieur.fr
Arts & Sciences PROJECTS, 368 Broadway, #409, New York, NY, 10013 artsandsciencesprojects.com