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The wait is almost over. The Real/Virtual Festival is about to start from the 22nd-25th of June in London, brought to life by one of the most promising art directors in the land, UK settled Parisienne Deen Atger.
Deen is the new art director at Ugly Duck, an inspiring social enterprise that revitalises empty and underused buildings opening them up for creative use, providing also unusual locations for filming, photo shoots and events. So far they’ve unlocked a Victorian Warehouse, post modern offices and a dusty museum in South-East London. They also display truly interesting and poignant work at the rooftop project, where sculptures and installations have the potential to be seen by an estimated 2 million people due to its proximity to the London Bridge rail tracks.
At the hands of Deen Atger, Ugly Duck brings now the Real/Virtual Festival, exploring alternative realities through Art and Technology. In an era where technology is fully assimilated into society, augmented and virtual reality have shifted notions of what constitutes the ‘real world’. Its launch marks the start of a five month programme of events that push the boundaries of reality and virtuality. The festival will take place at 47/49 Tanner Street in London, Ugly Duck’s flagship venue, and it is packed with exhibitions, installations and performances.
Since graduating from her MA in Cultural Management at the Paris Sorbonne University in 2013, Deen has worked between Paris and London as a production & tour manager for agencies specialised in new media art projects such as body>data>space in London and Art2M in Paris. From 2014 to 2016 Deen has been managing the production and bookings of the Waterlight Graffiti Project, an interactive installation developed by Antonin Fourneau. She has installed exhibitions in Chicago, London, New York, Paris, Singapore, Hong Kong and Moscow. Deen has a unique insight in the world of digital arts, and is particularly interested in the relationship between art and technology, and their social impact.
What brought you to London? how do you compare London creative landscape to other international cities?
People brought me to London and the diversity and the amount of creative initiatives made me stay!. I feel that London has a huge concentration of mind blowing artists, often pushing boundaries of what already exist. And these communities are very open; open to participation, to feedback and to interactions. More than in other places I’ve been.
Tell us about your work at UglyDuck. How is a process of putting together and running your pioneering arts programme?
I’m in charge of the Art direction of Ugly Duck since a year now, It’s such an interesting case as we are a platform for emerging artists as well as presenting the work of established artists in unusual spaces.
Every six months we release an open call for creatives; we are interested in projects that involve audiences in new and dynamic ways, work across disciplines, and educate and advocate for social, political and environmental change. For each season we select three guest curators who are helping us to curate the season. We recently worked with Ghislaine Boddington from body>data>space, Laurence Hill from Brighton Digital Festival, and Foteini Avarani from Museum of London. For the summer Season the theme was Real/Virtual, looking at the shifting notion of Reality since technology like V/R and A/R emerged.
Artists and curators can apply with a ” take over project” where they’ll occupy the whole location or they can apply with smaller project that we’ll pair with similar works.
You are a champion of arts and technology. Who are your favourite artists and artworks?Since the beginning of my career in the creative industries, I’ve been involved in amazing projects merging science, art and new technology, I immediately became very fond of it.
I don’t really have any favourite artists or artwork, I love new media art as a movement and I think all the artists I love make sense as a whole. But for example I really like the work of the artists collective Anti-Vj who create very poetic mapping and audio visual experiences, the work of Gregory Chatonsky a French / Canadian Artist who works with interactive installations, networked devices, photographs and sculpture, Hiroaki Umeda, Lab[au], Electronic Shadows and so many more I could continue for ever !
The Real/Virtual Festival is generating a lot of excitement already. What can visitors expect from it?
Real/Virtual is a result of the many amazing applications we received from artists through our last open call, It is curated but also I wanted to show the diversity of the responses we’ve got from one complex theme. We’ll be showcasing interactive installations, projections, light sculptures, V/R experiences and many more surprises. Expect to be taken on a journey exploring alternatives realities in an amazing Victorian Warehouse!
You support and nurture undiscovered creative talent. What are you looking for on them? How can new artists introduce you to their work?
New artists mostly get in touch with us via open calls or just send us a proposal directly. I also try to go to as many art shows as possible to also allow direct discovery!
I’m very conscious that aesthetic taste is very subjective so In general I’d say that we’re looking for passion and originality.
Being a young artist can be very complex, especially the moment at the end of Art School or just after so I think this support is a very important part of our work.
I know that is going to be very difficult for you to answer this question, but I am going to ask it anyway. Who are your favourite acts shown so far at UglyDuck?
It is hard ! Can I say 3?
I’m very lucky that I’m still super excited before each act that we put on or host in our venue, I really loved our small festival Perform Gender, a pluri-disciplinary event celebrating art, theatre, queer culture and gender equality that we’ve organised with Sweet’Art.
I really loved School of light by Lumen, an exhibition explore the relationship between astronomy and light.
And of course the Thin Veil, 10th anniversary of Kinetica Museum a huge show showcasing immersive and dynamic new media artworks
What’s the best way for the public and artists to keep up to date with events and opportunities at UglyDuck?
I’d say mostly social media we’re always posting about our next events on Facebook and Twitter. People can also register to our newsletter and check our website regularly.
What are your favourite food, music and hang around places?
I’m a very European person – I love Italian food, German Techno and French Cinema.
A goal for the future?
I’d like to organised an important international new media art festival.
If you want to volunteer at the Real/Virtual Festival, please contact Ugly Duck as there are still only a few opportunities for dynamic people would would like to get involved in a fun and very rewarding way. It’s a unique insight into running events, and a great way to network and gain industry contacts. Volunteers will act as invigilators, providing customer service, security of the works on display and a helping hand for the artists.