“Live Wild” is both the collective name for seven Dada-mad women and possibly the world’s shortest manifesto, neatly laying out the intentions of the group in two syllables. The seven members of the all-female collective currently live and work between France, Russia, the US, Georgia and Canada but come together near daily online via their shared page on Instagram, the Live Wild Collective.
Begun by Camille Lévêque in 2014 in response to the isolation she felt when working alone, in the four years since, the Live Wild Collective has stretched to hold the work of seven artists whose practises cover everything from traditional photography and collage to gifs and digital imagery with influences as diverse as family archives and vapour wave but with one crucial collective obsession; the satire-laden Dada movement. Anti-war, anti-bourgeois, pro-left, the Dada movement questioned the foundations of the Western art canon, the role of the artist, and laid the groundwork for Surrealism and Fluxus along the way. “Nowadays, more than ever we have multiples battles to fight: global warning, oppressive politics, increasing social inequalities, lack of education, racism,” Camille tells It’s Nice That. “Our website is, for us, the ultimate platform, on which we have full freedom of exhibition, to a worldwide audience, for free.”
We fired over some questions to Camille, who introduced us to the group and told us what Dada means to them now, in 2018.
Introduce yourselves individually, and tell us where each of you lives and about your working practice.
The collective gathers together seven artists. Anna Hahoutoff who lives between Russia, France and the United States. She works exclusively with photography, mostly digital, colour and using flash. Marguerite Horay is based in Brussels, her practice includes collage and gifs and she is very much influenced by the Belgium Surrealists. Camille Lévêque is based between France and the United States she works mostly with vernacular photography, especially family archive. Lucie Khahoutian is based in Tbilisi (Georgia) and does both photography and collage works. She is rather influenced by Caucasian traditional imagery and blends it with contemporary visuals. Ina Lounguine is originally from Ukraine but is based in France. Her practice goes from photography to video works and she discusses social and racial issues. Lila Khosrovian is a Los Angeles based Armenian. All her practice is evolving around the idea of artificial and natural encounters. Finally, Charlotte Fos is based in Canada and is focussing her practice on digital imageries such as post-internet and vapour wave.
When and why did you start the Live Wild Collective?
The collective was founded by Camille Lévêque in the summer of 2014 after long discussions with Lila Khosrovian and Anna Hahoutoff about art networks, visibility, and the difficulty of working alone. For some of us, who were just coming out of education, we were entering the working world without extensive experience, strong portfolios or good professional connections. By working through this together, we grew into a strong and united team. Even when our work differs, our approach, analysis and taste are usually in tune with one another. Sharing a platform allows us to show our work to a broader audience and the dynamic of the group also helps us to try out new mediums. We all have different strengths, so we are able to help each other with writing, editing, translation, Photoshop, and other technicalities. It was important for us to create a platform where artists from very different backgrounds can produce works that communicate smoothly and shed some light on countries that are under-represented, such as Armenia, Russia and Ukraine. We have big ambitions as a collective but hope to grow individually too, thanks to the group dynamic.
Tell us about your individual and collective connection to the Dada movement.
Dada was a European avant-garde art movement in the early 20th century. The movement was aiming to break every academic rule (including the one to be defined as a movement – there is no such thing as “Dadaism”) and was spreading via public gatherings, publications, demonstrations and through a wide variety of media. The movement later influenced groups including Surrealism and Fluxus (among others) to which we also feel very related. Whether it is in its multidisciplinary aspect or the fight the movement was fighting, we all feel very close to their manifesto(s) and feel like it has not aged and is still very relevant. We know repressive politics in Ukraine, in Armenia, in Russia, even in the United-States. That being said, Dada, The Surrealism or Fluxus were known for their capacity to mock everything, themselves especially. We are very attached to this angle and want to keep a playful tone in our work. These movements made us realise how much sense it would make to gather forces and thoughts, and we created our platform as an exquisite cadaver. We work blindly and then gather works and see what we have as a group.
Dada (and then Fluxus) is an anti-art movement, an interaction between activism and art production, an encounter between various forms of expression. Its production is meant to be extravagant to point fingers on life’s absurdities and mock conventions and fetters as well as questioning the role of the artist and his place in society. Nowadays, more than ever we have multiples battles to fight: global warning, oppressive politics, increasing social inequalities, lack of education, racism. Our website is, for us, the ultimate platform, on which we have full freedom of exhibition, to a worldwide audience, for free. Just like artists during Dada or Fluxus were pushing back galleries and museum to focus on alternative options of exhibitions, through random spaces and new forms (happenings, performances…)
We believe art is due another revolution. It’s hard to conceive its scale as the number of artists or mediums are clearly larger than decades ago and with the presence of digital content and space maybe we don’t have enough distance to fully comprehend what we’re living. We believe we are living the biggest revolution yet, we’re completely submerged by the technological revolution and can’t seem to fully realise what’s happening to us. More than ever we need to fight, for education, for human intelligence, for genuine feelings. The world has changed so much it’s overwhelming and scary but the fights, strangely enough, remain the same, we just have new ones to fight on top of the old ones. Maybe the new art revolution comes through a move backwards for once. Maybe we need to move more slowly, to think thoroughly about what we are doing, and art definitely needs to be used to raise awareness of the state of our planet.
How did you all meet? Online or IRL?
Marguerite and Ina are my cousins, Anna my closest friend, and Charlotte, Lila and Lucie, good friends from years ago. We all have a lot in common whether it is in our aesthetic tastes or in our personal history. We all have multicultural backgrounds and share the fact that our families had to migrate to other countries so this aspect of our life and education is rather important in our works. We see each other rather often and communicate on daily basis for some of us. Ideally, we’d like to have to a workspace to share, one in the United States and one in Europe, most likely in France.
Do you collaborate in person or purely online?
We work together in person very often actually. For some of us on daily basis. As a group we are used to communicating via the internet as we are all spread out across the globe, we constantly keep in touch and manage to work side by side, even sometimes on specific collaborative projects. Though we are very playful with internet and it is our main and favourite platform, we remain very low key online. Most of us don’t have social networks accounts and the ones that do are under pseudonyms. We try to centralise everything we produce and all our communication at the same place to have more impact on each other. The Internet is a wonderful and limitless platform, often neglected by photographers. People seem to be shy about it and fear to be stigmatised or discredited I think. The internet is so much more interesting than any gallery in terms of a showcase. It’s free, timeless, worldwide. How much better can it get?
How has Instagram played into the work you create as a collective?
Instagram is an important part of our collective work, it’s a platform where all our images appear in the exact same format and a silver lining is created between all our works. All the pieces are on the same page, with the same background, answering to one another. Instagram is definitely a valuable tool for creatives and we receive commissions through it which quickly brought us to take it a bit more seriously. It is by choice our only social media platform as we thought it was the most relevant one to represent our work.
Who, or what, what inspires you?
In terms of art movements, Dada, The Surrealism or Fluxus especially. But our references are rather varied and obviously come from very different backgrounds. Magritte, Sergueï Paradjanov, Andreï Tarkovski, Joseph Beuys, Henri Rousseau, Niko Pirosmani, Pier Paolo Pasolini, Toiletpaper, Tristan Tzara, Pierre et Gilles, Martin Parr, Yves Tanguy, Man Ray, Joseph Cornell, Takeshi Kitano, Sophie Calle, Ai Weiwei are (among others) solid influences, the kind that shape your work forever. These are the cornerstone of our inspiration. But we’re very excited about a lot of young contemporary artists too and find the new scene very stimulating and inspiring.
What has the Live Wild Collective got planned for 2018?
We have a few exhibitions planned for 2018 already and we are currently working on adding a shop section to our website to sell limited edition artworks. Also most importantly, we are preparing a couple of book dummies.