We had the pleasure of sitting down with the talented artist Laurent Segretier. Laurent has been a house hold name in Hong Kong for quite some time, cementing himself firmly amongst the top tier of international artists living in the city.
Self-described as part of the ‘new media generation’ in France (focusing on digital art and photographic manipulation), Hong Kong-based artist and photographer Laurent Segretier has continued from strength to strength every year.
Laurent’s work explores themes tourism, sex, flesh, and culture through the lens of a Guadeloupe-French artist. We recently caught up with him during Art Basel where he was showcasing his latest project with Beijing’s LEAP magazine.
Who are you?
Laurent Segretier. Tourist.
Tell us about your recent exhibition with LEAP magazine at Art Basel?
I met Robin Peckham (editor of LEAP magazine) a few years ago in Hong Kong when he had his gallery Saamlung. In my opinion, he was the first real curator in Hong Kong who really understood the post digital art world and that could relate with my medium.
He started following my works when I was doing media art on various series; porn, sneakers, cars, animé, robots, machines, and humans.
I showed him my work on a recent trip I did in Los Angeles. Then I also traveled to Bali, Thailand and around Asia with my wife when I first started this series on Tourists. The work started to become more personal and I could see clear associations with Chinese tourism, especially through my wife who is from Nanjing. Everywhere we went, I began to document objects, people, locations based from the culture of tourism.
He (Robin) picked three images from my trip in Bali to show within a group exhibiton at Fiac Paris. It was a group exhibition including emerging artists from Hong Kong. Caroline Bourgeois spotted the works (Pinault curator) and decided that they would like to showcase a solo exhibition of my work during Art Basel in Hong Kong.
What made you decide to print the art works on towels?
Good question. It goes back a long way and it has always been an old obsession of mine.
I wanted to connect with a medium that could be representative of China and tourism in general. I liked the idea of using something that could be an item to represent mass production.
Typically I have used clean, minimal museum-type art frames and production. This time I wanted to be more tactile and less precious.
The towel is also a symbol of hospitality when you are travelling. In China or in Asia it can be a symbol for cleanliness and comfort. The medium didn’t feel pretentious but felt fairly normal and welcoming – which is what I was trying to achieve.
How do you expect people to use the towel?
It’s up to the audience to re-appropriate the piece.
Question the function of an art piece whether decorative or functional. The art belongs to the eye of the observer in the same way I photography trivial subjects and make them conceptual.
I hope they travel and can be used for all types of situations; in the kitchen, at the beach, on the floor, on the wall, where ever you like. It’s better that than holding on to a photograph in a photo diary, like most people who take photo’s when they are on vacation.
Who was your inspiration for this series?
A love letter to my wife. My wife, my friends, room mates i travel with, and family. I noticed there was a big change recently when I went to LA to photograph for Memory Lane.
What happened in LA?
I had the opportunity to photograph Porn Stars London Keyes and Dana DeArmond. The culture of Hollywood (the machine of dreams) telling us what the future will look like. Yet some way, being so stuck in the past.
LA was a huge trigger for me. It gave me freedom to explore culture, the streets with no permit needed. Meeting personalities like London Keyes and Dana DeArmond really confirmed my thoughts of those post modern gladiators, fighting with their flesh , blood and body liquids with no armour.
What is it like to be an artist in Hong Kong?
Like anywhere it is a challenge. There seems to be less institutions to promote emerging art and more commercial brands who want to show their support. It’s a balance and something that I have always been familiar with here.
I feel like I’m Chinese in the heart. I have lived in Asia for 15 years and feel connected here, through the people and my interactions. My permanent life is between Paris and Hong Kong but I’m constantly travelling.
Follow Laurent on instagram for his latest updates @laurentsegretier