Catherine Sicot

Project Curator 2013 to 2016

Extract from Iris Häussler, The Sophie La Rosière project / Résidence at La Villa Vassilieff, May 2016, published by La Villa Vassilieff and the FNAGP (Fondation des arts graphiques et plastiques), Up-coming in the fall 2016, Paris.

On the morning of May 12, 2016, in the Chemin du Montparnasse where Villa Vassilieff is located, artist Iris Häussler is vigorously washing two solid oak doors that she found in the gardens of the Maison Nationale des Artistes in Nogent-sur-Marne. This estate, in the suburbs of Paris, was donated to the French Government by the artists and patrons Madeleine and Jeanne Smith. It was also here that Marie Vassilieff, as well as Sophie La Rosière, passed away soon after the Second World War.

In this moment, Iris Häussler is exhilarated by reconnecting with the intimacy of her Toronto studio, where her work always takes root. Since 2009, she has been creating the material evidence of a fictitious artist’s life and work: that of Sophie La Rosière. Sophie would have been an intimate childhood friend of Madeleine Smith.

On the same evening these very doors will hold a “Dîner de têtes” at Villa Vassilieff, gathering those - curators, students, historians, psychoanalysts and scientists - who have been collaborating with Iris Häussler to create and to bring to life the story and work of Sophie La Rosière.

Because Sophie was born in the mid-nineteenth century in the surroundings of Paris, we had to travel through time, rummage through heritage, memories and local histories, as well as the minds of Parisian experts, in order to locate possible traces of her life, her acquaintances and her passions. By bringing her to life through a process involving institutions and experimental spaces and situations, this artistic journey through time and between fiction and reality has taken shape(s).

Since 2013, this total work of art-in-progress has navigated the artistic, historical and scientific networks in Paris and Toronto. Bouncing back and forth, the work itself has changed in reaction to how participants have responded to it. It has become an artwork that has multiple forms and temporalities. At Villa Vassilieff, The Sophie La Rosière Project took the form of a dinner, a workshop, a contribution to the Other Gestures: Uses of Heritage #2 seminar and a presence in the Groupe Mobile exhibition.

Catherine Sicot

Collaborators of the project include: Catherine Sicot (Elegoa Cultural Productions), Philip Monk (Art Gallery of York University), Rui Mateus Amaral (Scrap Metal Gallery) and Daniel Faria (Daniel Faria Gallery), Mélanie Bouteloup and Virginie Bobin (Villa Vassilieff), former FNAGP (Fondation Nationale des Arts Graphiques et Plastiques) director Gérard Alaux and Caroline Cournède (adjunct director, Maison d’Art Bernard Anthonioz). Other collaborators include: the Centre de recherche et de restauration des musées de France (C2RMF), with Michel Menu, Head of the Research Department; Maison de Victor Hugo, with its director Gérard Audinet; the Giacometti Foundation, with former Director of Development Alexandre Colliex; the History Society of Aubervilliers, with Head of Projects Michel Sarnelli; and psychoanalysts Dominique de Liège and Yan Pelissier.
The workshop at Villa Vassilieff was developed with students and former students of Julie Morel (Ecole supérieure d’art de Bretagne, Lorient): Marie Cotonea, Clothilde Vacherias, Yoo Jean Kim, Ana-Catalina Escobar, Roxane Jean and Raphaëlle Peria.

Extract from: Iris Häussler, The Sophie La Rosière project / Résidence at La Villa Vassilieff, May 2016, published by La Villa Vassilieff and the Fondation des arts graphiques et plastiques, Paris.