How would you describe Deborah Bowmann?
Amaury: The idea of Deborah Bowmann is to create a hybrid project that is both an artistic identity and a space, and to play with what it could mean to be an artist and what it could mean to be a space.
The Roaring Twenties was a time of cultural prosperity. How do you see Deborah Bowmann flourishing in the 2020s?
A: The future of Deborah Bowmann is linked to a big decision we took, which is that we’re going to close our physical space. The whole idea is that we are not more a space than an artist. Before becoming too much ‘just’ a space, we need to close it and do more things abroad to rebalance.
It was also a time of mass consumerism. Your work seems to blur the distinctions between culture and commodity or commerce. Is this meant as a critique?
Victor: It’s an open critique.
A: You could look at it in a more political way, but it’s more an artistic challenge to play with things that we actually don’t like so much and that we try to make fun or interesting for us. Our work has a lot to do with things that we don’t like so much.
We were in the same art school and started playing music together in a band called France Frites
How did you decide to work together?
V: We were in the same art school in Bordeaux and started playing music together in a band called France Frites, which still exists and is based in Brussels. Then, we did several collaborations together.
Everywhere we go, we are interested in shop displays
Since Deborah Bowmann can be seen as a shop, I was wondering if you ever worked in retail?
V: After my studies, I was a – I don’t know the word in English – when you put articles on the shelves of a big supermarket at night. [Editor’s note: a shelf stacker]
A: The main thing we were interested in was the shop displays. Our work has a lot to do with the hierarchy between two objects. We wanted to play with this in the frame of a space that could play with the identity of the space itself: is it a shop or is it a gallery? Everywhere we go, we are interested in shop displays.
V: Displays in general, actually. When you go to a domestic place, you see the way the objects are arranged: the way the picture of someone goes on top of a table, how there are flowers on the side. This culture of arranging things – no matter if it’s in the public or private sphere – is something very interesting to us.
On your website you sell works as ‘products’. Do you have a favourite one?
V: Maybe the lemon cake. I really like it because I like it as a cake.
A: I quite like the ties on the website. They really make you wonder if someone could wear them or if they are supposed to hang on the wall like a sculpture or painting. It’s not the most beautiful object in the selection or the one we sold the most, but it has a lot to do with the idea of playing with a business character.
You mentioned your band. Is music something you incorporate in Deborah Bowmann?
A: Not with our band, but we’ve done a lot of shows with soundtracks. We thought it was fun to always have music in the space like in a shop.
Do you feel as if you can show more personality in your music?
A: It’s not more personality; it’s just another personality. We all have a lot of personalities. That’s why we wanted to work under the name Deborah Bowmann.