CONVERSATION

JB Gambier & Hugo Béhérégaray: (De)costruetion

issue #34: (De)construction

The Diary of JB Gambier & Hugo Béhérégaray, Dutch designers and artists, reflect on the theme of (De)construction: how construction, destruction and reconstruction are part of a creative process free form formalism. The meeting is during the Vienna Design Week 2023. Welcome to Caleido, the Kaleidoscopic Observatory on the world of creativity / Read the Editor’s letter here.

JB Gambier & Hugo Béhérégaray: (De)costruetion
Ph. Pierre Castignola
1. In your experience, what is the most intriguing interaction or dialogue that has emerged between your art installations and the people who experience these?

JBG: I remember this interesting interaction when I designed a window display for @hermes last year on the theme of tape. To showcase their products, we made these little stands out of reclaimed wood with silk and leather tape. I was there during the set-up work and there was a construction site in front of it. The day we finished, I remember seeing the workers looking closely at the window and I could see the smiles on their faces. I was very happy to see that they liked my work through the window of a fashion brand. If I can inspire pleasure and enjoyment in people, whoever they are and whatever they do, then I am satisfied.

HB: It sounds a bit cheesy, but I think the most rewarding and surprising interaction the audience can have with the installations we make is to laugh out loud. For example, when people during @ViennaDesignWeek, watched their friends through the TV screen destroy the cardboard furniture in the DESTRUCTION ROOM, there was a very strong hype as if they were watching a comedy show. It’s a feeling I also felt when I walked with a giant self-portrait through the streets of Paris. Laughing is apparently a reaction to something strange and unexpected in so-called “reality,” and that’s what I want to elicit.

JB Gambier & Hugo Béhérégaray: (De)costruetion
Ph. Pierre Castignola
JB Gambier & Hugo Béhérégaray: (De)costruetion
Ph. Pierre Castignola
JB Gambier & Hugo Béhérégaray: (De)costruetion
Ph. Pierre Castignola
JB Gambier & Hugo Béhérégaray: (De)costruetion
Ph. Pierre Castignola
JB Gambier & Hugo Béhérégaray: (De)costruetion
Ph. Anniek Mol / Origin Story Studio
2. Can you share a project where you intentionally aimed to disrupt or deconstruct architectural norms, and what were the outcomes or reactions?

JBG: For @dutchdesignweek 2021, I challenged myself to build a shed out of wood and colored duct tape. It was an interesting way to scale up my duct tape techniques to a larger scale. Although I used screws in some important connections, the walls and roof were made with wood and duct tape. I made rough plans, but the construction was very intuitive, which is not the traditional way of doing architecture, I guess. This material helps me instinctively and playfully build strange structures that would be harder to make with other materials. During the construction, I would constantly update the audience on Instagram about the process and provide all the hints, tips, and advice for the construction, kind of like a DIY video.

HB: In 2019 I was invited by the Art Center @abbayedemaubuisson in Saint-Ouen-l’Aumône, France, for a residency. The art center is an old 13th-century agglomeration, and they had a lot of materials left over from their past exhibitions, so I proposed making a large shed with all these scraps in their garden. It was a way to respond to the activity of the art center through its recent and ancient history, creating an independent place to meet and play. The public was free to paint on the shed, to build it with me, and to propose events such as musical breaks or photo shoots. I feel it is important to provide structures in which people can project themselves and in which there is freedom of action.

JB Gambier & Hugo Béhérégaray: (De)costruetion
@persis_k @hugobeheregaray
JB Gambier & Hugo Béhérégaray: (De)costruetion
@persis_k @hugobeheregaray
3. What role do you believe art plays in shaping public perception and interaction with urban environments?

JBG: Art is a medium for conveying emotions and ideas and always seeks to challenge something. It offers the tools to experience the environment differently, change perceptions and beliefs. It can open a debate, tell a story and open people’s minds.

HB: Art is this place of creating possibilities between rules. We challenge what can be done with little. For example, when during design week where the rule for the public is “don’t touch,” the possibility of destroying furniture is offered instead, it extends the “viewer’s” capacity for interaction and perception. In urban environments it is somewhat the same: when art appears spontaneously in a public space, it intrigues and gives the opportunity to perceive “reality” in a different way. People stop, look, talk, and eventually have the feeling that the street they walk down every day can be something other than just a traffic route. I believe that in general in Western European cities there is a lack of use of public space, where functionality has taken over from time to relax together. Art could help combat this trend.

JB Gambier & Hugo Béhérégaray: (De)costruetion
Ph. Pierre Castignola
JB Gambier & Hugo Béhérégaray: (De)costruetion
@persis_k @hugobeheregaray
4. Collaborating within artists can be challenging due to differing visione. How do you find common ground to create cohesive and meaningful works together?

JBG: Although our approach to art and design is very similar, there are always topics of friction. In fact, I believe that conflicting aspects within a team can create very interesting contrasts and can generate something new and unique through collaboration. The key is to be open, flexible and accept that you are not the only one making decisions. If everyone in a team is exactly the same there is no surprise and the work is therefore less interesting.

HB: I think the key to collaboration is to agree to disagree on everything. When two strong artistic identities decide to work on the same project, the point is not to measure each other’s intensities, but to make them compare. It is not exactly a struggle, because in the end there should be no winner or loser, but rather a disposition to be challenged by another strong personality. Of course, this only works if there is good communication and esteem. For me, collaboration works when these two universes come into friction, like two stones hitting each other to create fire.

JB Gambier & Hugo Béhérégaray: (De)costruetion
Ph. Pierre Castignola
JB Gambier & Hugo Béhérégaray: (De)costruetion
Ph. Pierre Castignola
5. How do you approach the sustainability aspect of your art installations, considering the impact on the environment and architectural structures?

JBG: One thing we have in common is a love of material waste. We try to reuse as much as possible and use less new material. I think we already have so much stuff, it is better to reuse it. This idea is also suggested in the DESTRUCTION ROOM, where we have the same objects from start to finish that are constantly being broken and repaired. You try to keep something alive as long as possible by using duct tape. Throwing away is quick and easy, but repairing is more involved.

HB: We use a lot of waste: cardboard, wood, old furniture, etc. There is a bit of a feeling that what we do is destined to disappear, since we often create ephemeral structures. So it’s better to use waste materials that will be destroyed again anyway.

JB Gambier & Hugo Béhérégaray: (De)costruetion
Ph. Pierre Castignola
JB Gambier & Hugo Béhérégaray: (De)costruetion
Ph. Pierre Castignola
JB Gambier & Hugo Béhérégaray: (De)costruetion
@persis_k @hugobeheregaray
JB Gambier & Hugo Béhérégaray: (De)costruetion
@persis_k @hugobeheregaray
6. What is the most unexpected or unconventional material or medium you’ve used in your art, and what inspired that choice?

JBG: I am very interested in video games, an area that constantly inspires my work. Like digital art, these mediums have immersive dimensions that I really enjoy. At the moment, I am experimenting with 3D software and video game engines, hoping to make an interesting project that can become part of my profession sooner or later.

HB: Recently I used socks and old sunglasses. I combined them to create “sock glasses” and see the world differently.

JB Gambier & Hugo Béhérégaray: (De)costruetion
@persis_k @hugobeheregaray
JB Gambier & Hugo Béhérégaray: (De)costruetion
@persis_k @hugobeheregaray
JB Gambier & Hugo Béhérégaray: (De)costruetion
@persis_k @hugobeheregaray
7. Your art performance (during @ViennaDesignWeek) invites viewers to participate actively. How does audience engagement factor into your creative process? Which are the conclusions coming from this experimentation?

JBG: One of the key concepts when we created this project was to involve the audience to eventually create a collective artwork. This way the public felt more involved and actively participated! It is also a way to start interesting conversations by being on the same site, repairing objects together. I am very happy that most people really understood all the ideas and values behind this project.

HB: When you create something you have to accept that it will be perceived differently from your initial intentions. For me it was intriguing to see how people were destroying the cardboard furniture I had invested a month’s work in. It’s all still recent for now, so I don’t have any definitive conclusions about it, but I still believe that it’s also a way of perceiving art to offer the possibility of destroying rather than looking.

JB Gambier & Hugo Béhérégaray: (De)costruetion
@persis_k @hugobeheregaray
JB Gambier & Hugo Béhérégaray: (De)costruetion
Ph. Pierre Castignola
JB Gambier & Hugo Béhérégaray: (De)costruetion
Ph. Pierre Castignola
8. If you could collaborate with any architect or designer from history, who would it be, and what kind of project would you envision together?

JBG: I think I would do that with @tomsachs. I like the idea of mock up a space exploration program, and I would like to have a similar experience through a visual language that I can relate to: raw materials, visible seams and screws, the use of duct tape, and the constant reference to popular culture, while criticizing it.

HB: I think I would love to collaborate with @niki_de_saint_phalle on a project like the fascinating the Tarot Garden, creating labyrinths and fascinating explorations. I think I would also like to collaborate with Shigeru Ban, [@voluntary_architects_network] who was one of my first big architectural inspirations and who could teach me more about the art of cardboard as a building material.

JB Gambier & Hugo Béhérégaray: (De)costruetion
@persis_k @hugobeheregaray
JB Gambier & Hugo Béhérégaray: (De)costruetion
@persis_k @hugobeheregaray
JB Gambier & Hugo Béhérégaray: (De)costruetion
@persis_k @hugobeheregaray
9. Beyond traditional gallery settings, where would you like to see your art installations placed, and why?

JBG: Recently I have been interested in scenes and props, which would be very interesting to use for a film, a play or, why not, a video game. In fact, I would like to explore different mediums of storytelling.

HB: In the theaters for the “black box” experience, in the squares for the randomness of encounters, in the cab of a train for the sake of making art travel.

JB Gambier & Hugo Béhérégaray: (De)costruetion
@persis_k @hugobeheregaray
JB Gambier & Hugo Béhérégaray: (De)costruetion
@persis_k @hugobeheregaray
10. What is an object in your home that you would never give up? what is the memory attached to it? would you send us a photo taken by you?

JBG: The CD of this old video game called “Rayman 3” for PC. I spent countless hours on this game when I was young. To this day I am still very inspired by its crazy fantasy universe. Just looking at the cover brings me back to my childhood, influenced by this universe that I liked so much. I still play it now and then for the memories.

HB: My guitar. It’s a pretty crummy guitar, but my mother offered it to me when I was 10 years old, and I take it to all the places I’ve moved to. I painted eyes on it like the ukulele in the “kidding” series with Jim Carrey, and it carries a lot of good memories.

JB Gambier & Hugo Béhérégaray: (De)costruetion
JB Gambier & Hugo Béhérégaray: (De)costruetion

Diary of @persis_k @hugobeheregaray
Follow @caleidodiary.eu on Instagram

All images are taken from the interviewee’s Instagram account, and are an integral part of the interview’s editorial storytelling. See the interviewee’s Instagram account for full credits.

other contents of this issue:
JB Gambier & Hugo Béhérégaray: (De)costruetion
JB Gambier & Hugo Béhérégaray: (De)costruetion

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