What is the relationship between Hammerson and art, and how is it being expressed today? (In the shopping malls, but perhaps also beyond these)
Jean-Philippe Mouton: Our shopping malls are more than just places to go shopping. They are also living environments - somewhere to meet people and to spend free time - where culture has its rightful place. Through both temporary and permanent installations, we have set up numerous initiatives aimed at promoting culture and art inside our centres.
So, for example, at the Terrasses du Port, the centre we opened in May 2014 in Marseilles, art and culture are everywhere - in the food court on the ground floor the walls are decorated with an enormous fresco in black and white, by the artist Cyprien Chabert, representing Mediterranean flora; under the centre’s magnificent glass roof an installation by Loris Cecchini called ‘Nuages de la mer et de l’air, symphonie des flux’ reflects the light of the sky. Also, in the corridors there are animal sculptures illustrating wildlife from the different continents and on the terraces when we host Festijazz.
Among the most recent initiatives there was the opening, in September 2017, of The 13th Art inside our centre Italie Deux in the 13th district of Paris - a concert hall able to hold 1000 people and which is the largest to be opened in Paris for 80 years. That same month we hosted, in our O’Parinor shopping centre in Aulnay-sous-Bois, a temporary exhibition from the Louvre Museum, aimed at allowing our visitors, who are not always able to visit the museum, to see a few of the Louvre’s major works of art. And of course, at our NICETOILE centre in Nice we are currently hosting a three month exhibition dedicated to Yves Klein, in a way never before seen in a shopping mall, which will allow visitors to fully immerse themselves in the work of this iconic Nice-born artist.
What is your vision for the cultural role shopping malls can play in the coming years?
Jean-Philippe Mouton: Our shopping centres are all located in the heart of their towns and are fully part of the local environment, playing a key role in its economic and social dynamism. Offering a wide range of shops is not enough. Our visitors also want to be surprised, to experience something different when they decide to cross the threshold of one of our centres. It is imperative to offer a different experience to the one to be had from simply making purchases on the internet.
This is why, according to me, culture and art will have an increasingly important place in shopping malls in the future - concert halls, exhibition spaces, launch pads for young artists just starting out, etc. Each year we welcome 100 million visitors in our French malls, we have something to offer for all tastes and all ages! And speaking of all ages, we are working with the Mom’Arte network in several of our malls (Terrasses du Port and shortly Italie Deux), who combine childminding and introduction to artistic practices for the very young. There is no age at which to start appreciating art and through the kind of introduction we are offering we can also play an instructional role.
What attracted you to the Yves Klein EXPO Augmentée project?
Jean-Philippe Mouton: Opening the doors of NICETOILE for 3 months to the most iconic of Nice’s artists - Yves Klein - is a great honour. But we are also very happy to be the first to try this new concept of ‘enhanced’ exhibiting, which combines art and new technology to offer a unique immersive and interactive experience. An exhibition of this scale and which employs such diverse technologies has never been attempted before in a shopping mall. In a way we are pioneers, which is exactly what we set out to be through the experiences we offer our visitors.
In what way can a partner like the Artcurial Culture Agency help you in this venture?
Jean-Philippe Mouton: We can’t escape the fact that although we want to establish a cultural role, this isn’t our field of expertise! We need experts and professionals who can work with us and guide us in our endeavours, advising us in how to organise and run our cultural and artistic activities; Artcurial Culture Agency is clearly the standard-bearer - so their help will be vital. Our malls offer us thousands of square metres of potential artistic expression, so we still have literally an enormous opportunity to work together!
Speaking personally, which are your favourite artists/movements or which exhibition has impressed you the most (and when and where it took place, if possible)?
Jean-Philippe Mouton: I was particularly impressed by a recent show at the Carrières de Lumières in Baux de Provence, showcasing the work of Jérôme Bosch. I was moved by the power of this painter, which is frightening and fascinating in equal measure, and I understood why, 500 years later, he continues to inspire contemporary artists.
Interview by Artcurial.
Jean-Philippe Mouton is the CEO of Hammerson.
Yves Klein - The Vibration of Colour.
Exhibition runs until 30th September 2018 – Nicetoile shopping mall.