Last time we caught up with Live Wild Collective, the seven visionary artists – who make up the all-female collective – spoke about the urgency of fighting for “education, for human intelligence, for genuine feelings”. Live Wild Collective has now transferred this fight for social justice to the Centre for Armenian Heritage in Valence, France, where two members of the art collective, Lucie Khahoutian and founder Camille Lévêque, have conceptualised, executed and curated an exhibition exploring Armenian identity, cultural heritage and collective memory.
“These are topics that we are very familiar with, in both our lives and works so it’s been wonderful developing this exhibition for an institution with which we share such a strong connection,” Camille says. “Most centres for heritage are taking the shape of memorials and are quite conservative and institutional. In this case, the director expressed very clearly her desire to introduce new narratives to their audience and head towards a much more contemporary approach so we feel extremely lucky to have had the chance to take part in this process.”
The exhibition is made up of an eclectic mix of archive and edited photographs, textiles and sculptures; Live Wild Collective’s strength lies in its ability to reimagine traditional artistic media and reinvent well-explored narratives. “The exhibition confronts works and research by Lucie Khahoutian and myself,” Camille tells us. “Her being an Armenian immigrant in France, and me being French of Armenian origin, granddaughter of a refugee, we orchestrate a discussion about what this cultural heritage is and if we share much in terms of identity. The show is thought of as a back-and-forth between both stories and both points of view.” Camille and Lucie’s innovative manipulation of photographs and artefacts allow them to meddle with the intersection between the past and the present. By adding to or detracting from images, the duo visually represents the passing of time and the construction of memory. This not only combines unexpected aesthetics, but also often takes on a personal dimension: Camille and Lucie often exhibit their family archive in order to explore the complex relationship between individual and national identity.
When asked how the latest art show builds on Live Wild Collective’s impressive and diverse portfolio of work, Camille replies: “All of our works are in a way ongoing, and take different shapes whether shown online, in an exhibition, or in a book. You don’t tell the same story in a book and on a wall, and each display has its own strength. But I believe we really are developing our works with three-dimensional display ideas in mind. We try to constantly change the presentation of the works to try new things, but also to develop a story and, even if the changes are minor, we are always switching something in each installation. For this particular show, we had the idea of an altar in mind, and organised most of the room to create this sense of remembrance. It’s not necessarily religious, but the show definitely reflects a strong sense of devotion.”