Catching up with Curated by Girls

Laetitia Duveau, 2020 © Philippe Rocks
Laetitia Duveau, 2020 © Philippe Rocks

Coeur et art loves storytelling and so we naturally wanted to catch up with curated by girls (CBG) founder Laetitia Duveau, who after three successful and intense years in Berlin recently moved to a mystical little village called Sintra near the Portuguese capital. Over the last years CBG has become a worldwide household name for supporting emerging artists and female-identifying talents by following their strong mission to promote diversity and equality.

New Femininity Exhibition at Melkweg Amsterdam - photo by Francoise Bolechowski
New Femininity Exhibition at Melkweg Amsterdam – photo by Francoise Bolechowski

This orientation has become far more common and accepted, even mainstream, today than it was just a few years ago. We well remember CBG’s first big group show at Blender in Neukölln, Berlin, and our first interview with Laetitia, who has proven not only to be a force to be reckoned with but as someone who is passionate and dedicated to the artists she works with. Whats new with Laetitia Duveau? Read on!

Laetitia Duveau, 2020 © Philippe Rocks
Laetitia Duveau, 2020 © Philippe Rocks

Catching up with Mademoiselle Duveau

A lot has happened since our first interview after you had founded curated by girls and put on its first big group show. If you look back, what have you learned and how would you describe these past three years?

Yes, three years have passed. It seems a long time ago and also like yesterday, all at the same time. What have I learned? Everything! From building up a show to running a website… everything.
Little by little I have become more confident about my work and I have learned to trust my instincts. I used to have a fear of speaking in public but now I feel more comfortable about it.
I have learned to say “no”. It is important to not feel constrained. I cannot please everybody, but that’s ok.

There is actually no single day in which I don’t learn something. I never planned on becoming a curator and I am thankful to Berlin for giving me the opportunity!

Before, I didn’t realize how open you have to be – and how open you CAN be – and ready to seize what life brings you naturally.

Many artists say good things happen to them when they are least expecting them. I have learned the important lesson is to be open to what surrounds you.

You are the only prisoner in your own prison.

These past three years have been hard work, every day. I’ve been running CBG mostly on my own. Of course, Berlin brought me great collaborations and for almost a year now my team has been growing with contributors in London and Berlin. I have brought together my little family, including my sister Igliona Duveau, as well as Florentine Schlueter & Soul Suleiman, all amazing girls with a good heart and spirit.

To me, it matters who surrounds you;

I don’t want too much ego around me – it brings pain and confusion.

Working as a team is damn inspiring and powerful. And I am planning to expand my crew even more in my new home near Lisbon. Yes, I have moved. A big change!

‘Berlin, the greatest cultural extravaganza that one could imagine.’*

*David Bowie, Singer, 1970s

© Lolla Rossi
© Lolla Rossi

What are your feelings about Berlin? I myself am in a constant love/hate relationship with the city; is it the same for you?

Berlin is an amazing bubble with its own pace. Creatively it is very rich, and offers one of the best standards of living for artists. I am forever grateful and forever connected to this city. It literally changed my life.
But of course, there is no perfect dream place. Berlin is really party-oriented and you can easily end up in the party spiral and not create any art, or anything else really.

It’s hard to find a good balance.

But I was able to organize exhibitions in Berlin without any money, with the help of great people. That’s priceless.

New Femininity - Blender Berlin
New Femininity exhibition, 2016 – Blender Berlin

There really is a sense of community in Berlin, like nowhere else in the world. Struggling is good in a way as it helps you work harder for something.

And in Berlin it is possible to develop your dreams.

But after four years I was a bit tired … mostly of the grey skies, German rudeness at the post office, the coldness of neighbours.

But I miss my friends, the Späti convenience shops, the wide open spaces of Tempelhof and the unique vibe.

Warming up; the growing CBG Community

Catching up with Curated by Girls 9

Curated by girls has been at the forefront when it comes to gender equality, celebrating femininity in all its forms and providing a platform for art and artists who wouldn’t necessarily have one otherwise. There “seem” to be a lot more acceptance these days when it comes to not blending into stereotypes. How do you feel about these things now compared to when you started out?

CBG has become a community. I’m in shock that we have reached 100k Instagram followers. I honestly can’t believe it. I’m very thankful to everyone who has contributed, taken part, provided support, and naturally all the artists!

We are a BIG community now!

And everywhere where I’ve put on CBG group shows I’ve sensed the same spirit.

There is a very peaceful and harmonious vibe in our exhibitions, whether in Berlin, Barcelona, Amsterdam

© Venus Libido

Catching up with Curated by Girls 10

But I don’t think things were really different three years ago to how they are today; we are still fighting against gender-based discrimination, the violations and violence that women endure; we are still fighting for equal rights and for more diversity.

We still live in a male-dominated society that dictates when, who, how and what.

It’s small steps we are taking. There is still a lot of work to do for more justice and acceptance in our society in order to reach a world where men and women are equal.

We are just warming up!
It is true that more and more platforms that promote equality are popping up, which is great.

Feminism is playing a greater part in the cultural conversation than ever before.

YES, it has become a trend.

The message is reaching more people and everyone must hear about the issues that women are facing and the importance of inclusivity.

But we have to be aware that many corporations use feminism to sell products.

Here it’s the lack of honesty that’s the problem.

© Ashley Skinner

Words are not enough. We need action. We need more inclusivity in the workplace, more diverse decision-makers in the art world, in museums, in media and cultural sectors. Don’t just invite women to the party, ask them to actually dance. Woop Woop!

Ashley Armitage
© Ashley Armitage

Harmony ala Duveau

Let’s talk about you. Is there a particular artwork, person or situation that inspired you to become an artist and musician?

I guess I always needed a place to escape reality and music was it – it made my heart vibrate. I started with dance, contemporary & hip-hop at a pro-level, but I realized the atmosphere in the dance groups was not what I was looking for: too competitive and not really a “team” like you might think. So for me it was obvious to switch to music, which enabled me to create whenever, wherever.

All I wanted was to express myself.

Catching up with Curated by Girls 11
Laetitia Duveau © Philippe Rocks

I got a guitar, quickly learned three chords and wrote my first songs. Don’t tell anyone but I was a fan of Avril Lavigne, I kind of looked like her…
At 18 I was signed to Universal as an upcoming talent. It was a dream come true but then it all went crazy with my manager, an abusive manipulative liar. If I had known how difficult the music business would be, I think I would have gone for another career.

Ha ha! No regrets. You live and sometimes you learn.

Which of these elements (space, air, fire, water, earth) would you choose about yourself, and why?

Is this related to astrology? I don’t know much about it but I am pretty intuitive. I guess air would represent me best. I have my head in the clouds. For example, I have a driving license but refuse to drive – when I day dream I’m a danger on the road. I’m Gemini so obviously I’m full of contrasts. I’m very shy but I can also go wild. And my rising sign is Scorpio…oh la la! I can be extremely focused and organized but I’m also an artist, and it’s never easy to explain my style, why I do it.

It’s a bit like being an airstream, going where the inspiration takes you.

Very airy, I guess. But it’s maybe not just that, it is a whole. It’s harmony. The best recipe would be the perfect balance between all those five elements you mentioned.

Laetitia Duveau © Philippe Rocks
Laetitia Duveau © Philippe Rocks

Do you consider yourself spiritual and how does this feed into your work?

I’ve never really asked myself this question but I am definitely NOT ‘someone NOT spiritual’. I don’t have much time to think about my own state that’s for sure. I put a lot of myself into giving to others. It’s primordial for me.
And I believe in energies! I’m very sensitive to the vibrations in a room and the energy people release. I feel people immediately, and it kind of helps me avoid toxic people.

I hope so.

I love poems, quotes, words, lyrics…they can be magic, and are totally present in my world. Maybe I am spiritual but I’m not religious. My only “religion” is HUMOUR. I cannot live without jokes and laughing.

I really don’t see the point of existence if it is 100% serious.

© Núria Estremera
© Núria Estremera

Is there a book or author you are currently reading you want to share with us?

I wish I had more time for books.

They smell so good!

I love the comics artist Liv Strömquist, she writes about taboo subjects, menstruation and the vulva in society.

© Sara Lorusso
© Sara Lorusso

I’m also a big Krishnamurti fan, and I’m casually reading The Power of Now by Eckart Tolle. I find it very stimulating. But as I said, I need more time. Being able to be here and now, that’s the next step for me, I guess. I have to unplug more often.

I just took two months to break from my personal IG account to avoid burnout.

It felt good, and during that time I read the French book On ne nait pas soumise, on le devient by Manon Garcia. Her first book, very interesting … in the ‘Simone de Beauvoir’ style.

Olá Sintra!

Catching up with Curated by Girls 27

You recently moved to Portugal. Tell us about your new situation and location and what is coming up next in your universe.

Moving to Portugal was a big step and definitely not an easy one. It took almost a year to finally settle in Sintra. It is far from what I excepted!

I was going for an apartment in the city of Lisbon, and I ended up in a small house in a fairy-tale village!

How weird can life be? Ahaha! But that’s the magic of life, not expecting, just being open to your surroundings. I am very happy I made that move. I love it here, the nature, the people, the products. It is much simpler and less sophisticated! I am secluded in my little mystical village but still very connected to the world!

How fantastic! AND INSPIRING!

Some very exciting projects with CBG are coming up.

And I am finalizing some new songs with my music project free free dom dom.

Stay tuned!

Self Portrait © Laetitia Duveau

Read all about Curated by Girls here!

Author: Esther Harrison