I find Brussels very chaotic and I think that’s inspiring

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Alexis Gautier navigates between mediums, roles, and geographies. A true multi-hyphenate, whether he’s been a taxi driver, a museum attendant, or a tennis player, Gautier always weaves his own narrative into those of his collaborators and contributors. We met up to talk about his upcoming exhibition, and also to better understand his creative process.

When we were researching you, we found a lot of information about a tennis player named Alexis Gautier…  

I can imagine! A while ago a friend of mine sent me a screenshot of my face on a professional tennis website. It has a record of match points and statistics. The staff of the website had mistaken me for the other Alexis, the real tennis player, which I find an interesting starting point for something else.

To begin with, I invited him to have a match with me in the space of the museum. It will happen on the last day of the exhibition, l’Heure de la Soupe, at M Leuven. We’ll move away some of the works and pull a net through the exhibition space… I still have six months to learn how to play [Laughs].  

This sounds like a big event! Can you tell us something about the exhibition?  

The exhibition is conceived as fiction written collectively, with a diverse group of co-authors who are simultaneously protagonists of the show. I collaborated with each of them in various ways: a group of embroiderers provided me with a storyboard; artist Richard Tuttle contributed with floor work; a group of craftsmen made ceramic doors. 

The museum attendants are also involved… I was intrigued by their ability to navigate between the visible and the invisible, and the ways in which they absorb the visual regime of a museum. They are an important part of the context, so working with them is a way of thinking about the institution as a material.

Now that we’ve established that you’re not a professional tennis player, can you introduce yourself? 

I’m Alexis. I live in Brussels and in Brittany, where I grew up. I graduated from the Städelschule in Frankfurt and I miss the sea.

Why did you choose Brussels? How is it a match with you and your work? 

Choas. In the idea of chaos everything touches everything, as my friend Nico Dockx would say. I find Brussels very chaotic and I think that’s inspiring.

I also feel very comfortable with people from Belgium, they surprisingly have a similar character to people from Brittany. There’s somehow a friendly unpretentiousness and it’s inviting, it feels like an open field full of possibilities.

You work in various different mediums. Is there a specific reason for that?  

The medium that I use always depends on the context or the person that I’m working with. I try to keep it flexible and vulnerable. They can be textile makers, artists or neighbours…

Would you say that it sets fewer limits? 

Sure, it’s infinite. It’s defined by encounters. I’m fascinated by sculpture, image-making, and textiles, but I don't limit myself to them. When I decided to work with art it might have been a way of keeping doors open. 

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