Fred Nicolau / Tradition Moderne

Union Libre

For this new 2024 season, Les Abattoirs, Musée - Frac Occitanie Toulouse have been invited by MEMENTO, Espace Départemental d'art contemporain, to join forces through an associated curatorial project, to which independent curator Jean-François Sanz has been invited.

The exhibition, which has been conceived collectively, is an opportunity for Les Abattoirs to showcase new acquisitions for the first time in the region, including one by Venezuelan artist Sol Caléro, who is currently exhibiting at the Venice Biennale.

Karine Mathieu, the general curator, describes this new artistic collaboration in the following terms:

"MEMENTO, a departmental space for contemporary art, has been working since it opened to forge a unique link between contemporary art, the spirit of the place and its visitors. This encounter is now a long-term one. It is experienced and developed through a sensitive approach that engages us intimately, sharpens our perceptions and cultivates the pleasure of emotions.

In our constant desire to share fruitful artistic adventures, we are keen to develop real experiences. They are as much about imagination as they are about illuminating our understanding of the world, offering a physical journey through the senses.

In this sometimes oppressive reality, we keep a firm distance from the temptation to turn in on ourselves and reject what we don't recognise. We prefer the adventure of doubt and surprise to the seductive norms that social media massively convey, so that we can reach out to our feelings and make room for the generosity of our creative powers.
The UNION LIBRE exhibition was born of this desire to move the reassuring security of normative thinking to the margins, to welcome into its heart the lands of the unexpected and delight.

MEMENTO lives in this former Carmelite convent, dedicated to the communal life of reclusive women. It opens up the fences to reconnect the inner world with the outer world. In so doing, MEMENTO infuses as much as it diffuses to become a palpable material offered to artistic creation, conducive to building new relationships with the imaginary.
This winter, in the soul of the walls, this edition has been developed with the imperative need to rethink the exhibition as a common ground for sharing the human and artistic values that cement our fervent belief in art. Here, pleasure, know-how and interpersonal skills come together in a collective adventure that is as generous as the venue itself. The story is built on the certainties of the artists and the works, and the magic of the obvious that I love so much is created.

To experience this momentum from the inside could not be fully achieved without inviting other exhibition thinkers who work alongside the artists and whose vision intersects with my convictions in a shared sensibility. UNION LIBRE took shape as a result of these shared explorations, in which our singularities were expressed as factors of synergy and emulation.

That's how Jean-Francois Sanz, author and independent curator, and William Gourdin, exhibition manager at Les Abattoirs, musée-Frac Occitanie Toulouse, responded to this invitation to create a shared imagination. To the questions already raised was added the most fascinating: that of the possibility of creating a mutual affinity in a distinct relationship to works and art. We came together at the crossroads of our sensibilities to embody together a score of the sensitive in a hand-to-hand encounter with the site.

Over the last twenty years or so, Jean-François Sanz has been developing projects that combine high artistic standards with an openness to others. His projects reflect his interest in the margins, counter-cultures and avant-gardes, where popular culture, literature and music merge. Having become virtually blind as a result of a degenerative genetic disease, he has been forced to adapt his practice and reorientate the very conception of exhibitions. At the heart of MEMENTO is a new experience that shifts the physical and mental relationship we have with the simple act of seeing.

At the heart of the Musée des Abattoirs, in unsuspected lands where history and humanity meet, William Gourdin is developing exhibitions with works and artists from the public collection of the Fonds Régional d'Art Contemporain. For the last fifteen years or so, he has been challenging the idea of "making an exhibition" in places as unusual as they are steeped in history, in order to build new bridges with the public.

Drawing on the memory of MEMENTO, the beautiful community spirit of our junctions has taken on the character and personality of the exhibition spaces. Together, we have put all our faith in this attention to artists and works of art, in the hope of nurturing the seeds of an artistic and human communion open to all.

This exhibition, presented in spaces as unusual as they are bewitching, reveals this UNION LIBRE founded on the enrichment of relationships through the love of art. Here, the body, movement, perception and feelings come together to create a micro-society of the senses."