Lab’Bel is a laboratory of ideas and innovation that aims to support and contribute to the development of contemporary artistic creation.
Reflecting the values upheld by the Bel Group and its host company Unibel, under whose initiative Lab’Bel was created in the spring of 2010.The laboratory’s activities consist of two main poles: the development of a contemporary art collection and the production of exhibitions and artistic events both in France and abroad.
About The Lab’
Lab’Bel, the artistic laboratory of the Bel Group, was born in the spring of 2010 based on a firm desire on behalf of the industrial group to develop a policy committed to the support and promotion of contemporary art, open and accessible to the general public. Directed by Laurent Fiévet and Silvia Guerra, Lab’Bel accompanies artists and creatives work. They focus on humour, eclecticism and impertinence, the three thematic areas around which Lab’Bel structures its identity.
Through this distinctive identity and its association with a company of brands that are both accessible and popular, Lab’Bel occupies a unique position in the field of French corporate philanthropy. Reflecting the policy of innovation and conviviality that the Group has implemented over the years, Lab’Bel aims to address a wide audience, placing a particular emphasis on the different tools and resources accompanying each exhibition and/or event.
With no specific site dedicated to its activities, Lab’Bel produces exhibitions and artistic events every year both in France and abroad. Since its inception, Lab’Bel has privileged transversal projects that foster cross-fertilization or intertextuality between the visual arts and other artistic disciplines (architecture, literature, music, theatre, etc.).
Lab’Bel has also instituted a collection of contemporary art. New acquisitions are added annually and the collection is currently on long-term loan to the Musée des Beaux-Arts de Dôle in the Jura Region, where the Bel Group was established more than 150 years ago.
In parallel to these activities, Lab’Bel is also responsible for a series of publications and artistic editions, some of which, like The Laughing Cow® Collector’s Edition Boxes, are created on an annual basis by leading contemporary artists and distributed in most major supermarket chains, making art accessible to a wide public. Projects such as these are conducted in close collaboration with the Bel Group.
Lab’Bel is at the source of a series of publications and films that document some of the group’s major projects. In close collaboration with the Bel Group, Lab’Bel is also responsible for the conception of some remarkable artistic editions, such as The Laughing Cow® Collector’s Edition Boxes. Produced annually by renowned contemporary artists, and intended for a wide audience—art lovers and the general public alike—they are offered at very affordable prices in most major supermarket chains.
Lab’Bel’s contemporary art collection does not privilege any one specific media or medium, and imposes no particular requirements in terms of age or nationality for the artists it presents. Instead, the values of humour, impertinence and eclecticism form the cornerstone of the collection and determine its tone.
On long-term loan to the Musée des Beaux-Arts de Dôle, the collection consists exclusively of works created after the 2000s, reflecting Lab’Bel’s mission to better support and promote current artists.
With no specific site dedicated to its actions, Lab’Bel is free to carry out its activities at various locations throughout France and Europe. Its history therefore is punctuated by a wide range of collaborations, in particular with the structures and/or institutions where its events and activities are hosted.
Lab’Bel Meetings (Rencontres Lab’Bel)
Since 2012, the team of Lab’Bel, the artistic laboratory of the Bel Group, has developed a programme of visits and contemporary art discovery sessions targeting the employees of the Bel Group. Seasoned enthusiasts or simply the curious-minded are all welcome to participate in these convivial get-togethers, which take place during lunch time. On the programme each month: exhibition visits, the presentation of new works from the collection, as well as meetings with guests, artists and art professionals who are there to share their passion for art with the audience. Programme scheduling takes into account major events in the Parisian calendar, as well as Lab’Bel’s own artistic activities and commitments.
The permanent team at Lab’Bel includes Laurent Fiévet, the director and Silvia Guerra, the artistic director.
They work along with a committee composed of contemporary art professionals who advice and collaborate in the projects.
This versatile team includes Gilles Baume, Laure Confavreux-Colliex, Philippe Fouchard-Philippi, Audrey Illouz, Inês Moreira, François Prodromidès, Michael Staab and Séverine Waelchli.
Born in 1969, Laurent Fiévet is the great-grandson of Léon Bel, creator of the Bel Creamery. After having earned his doctorate in film and audiovisual studies, he taught film aesthetics and criticism for ten years at the University of the Sorbonne Nouvelle and Paris University 7. His artistic work has been shown in over fifty solo and group exhibitions, in France and abroad, in such institutions as the Vermelho Gallery in São Paulo (Silêncio! 2008), the Munch Museum in Oslo (In/Out, 2007) and the Kiasma, the Contemporary Art Museum of Helsinki (Suites hitchcockiennes in 2003). He also participated twice in Art Video Night, which was shown at the Centfd Georges Pompidou, the Toulouse Film Library and the Gaité Lyrique in Paris.
After having earned his doctorate in film and audiovisual studies, he taught film aesthetics and criticism for ten years at the University of the Sorbonne Nouvelle and Paris 7 University. Laurent Fiévet created exhibitions using moving images, integrating them into spaces and reworking them through video montage. These works draw theirs meaning from the fields of painting, cinema, and photography, in order to question our perception of the emblematic images of our collective cultural memory and to critically examine our contemporary societies. These installations are organized into thematic series centered around a body of preselected images: each piece has its own interior logic, but also functions as part of a more complex body of works which draws on interconnections between the different individual elements.
Laurent Fiévet’s artistic approach reflects on the referential qualities of the image. He develops thematic series – such as Suites hitchcockiennes, Essences de L’image/Portraits olfactifs, Les Larmes de Lora, and most recently They Shoot Horses, Don’t They?, Fêlures du Paysage, and Ice – and anchors them in the worlds of painting, cinema, and photography, in order to investigate certain emblematic images from collective memory as well as original and unusual interconnections.
The crux of these installations moves away from providing a perspective for these images, or displacing the traditional gaze of the public, and instead exploits the memories they conjure as well as the more or less unconscious reactions to them. They raise a series of questions concerning the image, its aesthetic, and the way it works, evolves, is consumed, and how it’s seen – all of which draws on elements of socio, historical and political criticism.
The use of emblematic images – often heavy with historically importance – responds to the public’s willingness to be conditioned. These images create in the public a system of expectations that are exploited and manipulated during the installations. The visitors’ memories, knowledge, and sensations, are therefore directly solicited by this installation, which is often interactive.
Having also participated in the production of many performances, Laurent Fiévet has lately collaborated with the stage director, Ludovic Kerfendal (S.Ø.RS, 2008, 59’59’’, 2009-2010, and Fratres, 2011), the composers Olivier Innocenti (Deconstructing Lora, 2010, and Faith et Decade – A Neverending Limbo, 2011) and Hélios Azoulay (Ceci n’est pas un concert, and Je n’en finirai pas de soulever tous ces visages, 2011), the actor Jean-Pierre Pancrazi, as well as the dancer Johanna Zwaig (Hers, 2006, and In/Out 2007).
Laurent Fiévet, along with Silvia Guerra, curated the exhibition REWIND and Art for Life / Art for Living, organized by Lab’Bel in 2010 and 2011, as well as the artistic interventions of Laboratoire artistique during the Nuits Blanches in Metz in 2009, 2010 and 2011, and at the Mies van der Rohe Pavilion in Barcelona in 2011.
Art critic and exhibition curator, Silvia Guerra studied History of Art at Coimbra (Portugal) and the Università di Ca’ Foscari in Venice (Italy) where she presented her bilingual dissertation on the foundations of contemporary art: A Arte Contemporanea contada por duas fundaçoes culturais europeias: a Fundação de Serralves no Porto e a Fondazione Querini Stampalia em Veneza. (Contemporary Art as Seen through two European Cultural Foundations: the Foundation of Serralves in Porto and Foundation Querini Stampalia in Venice).
She began her professional activity in 2001 managing the German Pavilion team with the artist Gregor Schneider for his golden lion award work “Totes Haus Ur” at the Venice Biennial.
For three years Silvia Guerra was the Representative of Contemporary Art for the Department of International Relations at the Arts Institute of the Ministry of Portuguese Culture. Then in 2006, she transitioned into the role of curator for the exhibitions Under Hitchcock (Solar, Vila do Conde, 2007), The ones without name (os Sem Nome) (Trafico, Lisbon, 2009) and Readings during Crisis ( Leituras em tempo de crise)(Porto, Loulé, Lisbon, Paris, 2009/ 2010). In this final project, Silvia Guerra raises the question of how ideas rather then artworks are displayed, replacing theoretical references from the beginning of the century with new ones, like those articulated by Boris Groys or Giorgio Agamben. Readings during Crisis were presented at petit Cabanon in Oporto, Mobile Home (curated by Nuno Faria) in Loulé, and Bétonsalon (The Public School) in Paris.
In her work, Silvia Guerra investigates the curator’s artistic creativity and uses new media to experiment new exhibition display forms: social networks (FlickR) and USB supports that allow for the mobility of exhibitions, (The ones without name), etc.
Showing art works on screen using a cinematic narrative or exploring the space of an art show as a “medium” to develop our conception on reality and fiction, on literality and transe are some of her research themes;
Silvia Guerra co-curated the exhibitions at Lab’Bel (REWIND and Art for Life / Art for Living) with Laurent Fiévet in 2010 and 2011, respectively.
Gilles Baume studied art history and specialized in contemporary art at Ecole du Louvre. He then participated in several professional projects concerning the general public and contemporary art in several different Fracilienne institutions, including the Centre Pompidou and Jeu de Paume. His professional experience includes but is not limited to the conception and production of conferences, studios, training, and guide development. As an art critic at the Standard revue, he has also developed a personal artistic practice regarding video. Since 2006, he has been head of the cultural program at the Plateau / Frac Île-de-France à Paris. Since 2010, he has been in charge of developing public awareness of contemporary art for the Bel group’s artistic laboratory. In 2011, he was the exhibition curator of Même pas vieille ! (at La Maison de La vache qui rit, Lons-le-saunier, France).
After having double majored in British literature and art history at the Sorbonne, she completed several internships in different contemporary art centers, both public (Ferme du Buisson art center) and private (Fondation Cartier pour l’Art Contemporain). For four years (2006-2010), she coordinated exhibitions at the Centre Photographique d’Ile-de-France and has since been in charge of their exhibition production, residency programs, and publishing center.
Today, she is an independent art critic and curator. She regularly collaborates with contemporary art revues, such as art press, Flash Art International, and 02. She most notably produced the exhibitions Silêncio ! (2008-2009) at Vermelho Gallery, in Sao Paulo and Chambres Sourdes at Rentilly Cultural Park (Spring 2011).
She earned her degree in art history at Munich University (LMU) in Germany and then completed an internship at Haus der Kunst in Munich as well as working for seven years at the Sprüth Magers Gallery. Séverine Waelchli has worked for five years as director of the Yvon Lambert Gallery in Paris. She has worked with different artists and is responsible for public relations with collectors, foundations, and museums.
LAURE CONFRAVEUX COLLIEX
A member of Lab’Bel from the very beginning, Laure has shared her long-term vision for developing this project.
Laure is also LordCulture has managed the development of a touring exhibition on the theme of climate change for the United Nations Environment Program; the positioning and business plan for the Wine Cultural Center in Bordeaux; the operation business plans for the project “MétaLmorphoses” for the Paris Mint; the feasibility study for the creation of a foundation of public interest for Magnum in Paris; the strategic cultural positioning, cultural program, business model and partnership strategy for Europacity (Immochan Group); and the pre-opening operations for the Heydar Aliyev Center in Baku, Azerbaijan. She is currently working on the Poznan, Poland cultural program application for the 2016 European Capital of Culture and the master plan for the interpretation centre for Lascaux, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
JACQUES HEINRICH TOUSSAINT
Born in Bielefeld (D), Jacques Heinrich Toussaint studies Art History and Philology of Romance Languages in Münster (D). During his studies in Germany, he makes internships in different institutions like Haus der Kunst in Munich (2009), Museum Ludwig in Cologne (2011) and dOCUMENTA (13) in Cassel (2012). Driven by the necessity to live in a center of artistic creation, he begins a master 1 in History of Contemporary Art at Paris-Sorbonne (Paris IV) and pursuit his career with a master 2 in Curatorial studies in the same institution.
Since 2014 he regularly assists the artistic director on the of Laboratoire artistique du groupe Bel in exhibition such as “Haroon Mirza – The Light Hours” at the Villa Savoye by Le Corbusier in Poissy, “La collection mise a nue par ses artistes, même …” (Musée des Beaux Arts in Dole) and “Concertino Unisono“ by Michael Staab (Venice, Piazza San Marco).
Currently he is a Ph.D candidate at the University Paris VIII and at the Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster with a dissertation on public art in Europe.
He is curator and founding member of the collective Curate It Yourself.