June 5, 2023

The Institute of Jamais Vu

Hi Joe, thank you for agreeing to this interview.

No problemo.

Firstly could you talk a bit about how The Institute of Jamais Vu came into existence, and how all of the founding members met.

We as a group came together from a few different angles. Many of us are from Yorkshire and attended the Leeds College of Art foundation course, others are from London, Reading or Birmingham.

The thing we’ve all got in common though, what drew us all together I’d say, is that we all care a lot about art and that we’ve all broadly been involved in facilitating art, be it organising curatorial projects in our home towns, working within the commercial gallery system or being involved in arts publishing.

So yeah, there’s fifteen of us and we all met through art education basically.

Are there a range of disciplines amongst you all, or do your practices overlap in any way?

We’re a mix of artists with a light peppering of designers, writers & anthropologists and collaboration within the ranks does inevitably exist though I’d say, by and large, the Institute of Jamais Vu as a ‘thing’ is held quite separately from our individual practices.

And you all study in London art colleges?

We do all study at London institutions apart from one guy called Harlan.

How do you decide on the artists who show at Jamais Vu, do you discover them yourselves and do you travel to do this?

We come across artists in all manner of ways, exhibitions, the Internet, books and publications. I’d say I personally get a lot out of the Internet.

With regards to how we decide on artists, it sounds slightly unbelievable, even as I say it myself, but all we do is get together once every couple of months and spend a lovely afternoon talking about art we really care about.

As I’ve mentioned previously, we are all passionate about what we’re doing and about art as a whole, the fact that this thing of ours is sustained by having conversations about it, well, it’s something I’m proud to be a part of to be honest.

Could you tell me a little bit about the current show ‘TOWARDS A FREE SOCIETY NICK CROWE & IAN RAWLINSON, and the reasons for choosing the artists?

I know why I wanted to show Nick and Ian, though I’d be lying if I said I was the only one who’s idea it was to show them. Nick and Ian are genuinely amazing artists whose work I first came across during the 2009 Northern Art Prize. They didn’t win the prize (Pavel Buchler did but that’s OK because he’s really amazing too) though their ‘Four Horseman’ installation in the Ziff Room remains one of the most seductively unnerving things I’ve seen in my life.

For their show at IJV they showed a video they made during that time (but had never shown) and a sculpture made out of a safety blanket. There’s a good review of the show here – https://www.distorteduk.com/2012/07/ towards-free-society-institute-of.html.

Who interests you the most in the art world at the moment, is there a particular country or city that interests you in terms of the artists living there?

I’m quite interested in the decentralisation of the UK’s art scene. London’s always been the centre of the country with what seems to me like less and less of a justifiable mandate to be so.  I’ve always felt like Glasgow’s always been a bit of an ‘exception that proves the rule’ and places like Birmingham’s EASTSIDE PROJECTS, Sheffield’s BLOC or S1, Newcastle’s WORKSPACE GALLERY, Bristol’s SPIKE ISLAND and Leeds’ MEXICO PROJECT SPACE (I know I’ve missed lots of great spaces out) are not only fascinating but really, really exciting just to witness.

And yeah, I’m from Leeds (and so am perhaps almost certainly biased) but I feel like things are about to get very, very interesting there in the next few years. Yeah I’m definitely biased haha.

Do the founding members exhibit together or are you solely focused on curating shows?

We’ve been involved in shows together in the past and we do show together sometimes outside of the context of the IJV but we don’t show our own work in the Institute of Jamais Vu and that’s for a couple of reasons, I mean, there’s so many amazing artists out there that we’d never have enough time to show them all if we were open for a hundred years, plus the space is the perfect size for solo shows, plus it’d be more than a little nepotistic of us.

One thing I think that’s commonly shared between us all is that we run the gallery as professionally and respectfully as possible, we try to give the artists the best deal possible and all that really means is making it as easy as possible for them to show the work they need to show. I’d like to think of us as trying to be the organisation we’d like to see more of.

How do you see The Institute of Jamais Vu developing, are you planning on branching out, or staying in London?

These are highly guarded, super secret plans and all I am currently at liberty to say is that we will have a Booth at Art Platform 2012 as part of Art Platform Art Fair in Los Angeles, USA, (https://www.artplatform-losangeles.com/special-programs/colab) and that we will continue to put on good shows of artists we think are important.

Lastly, I’d be interested to hear your thoughts on what you see happening for the future of art education, do you think that artists views of art school has changed since the introduction of the new university fees?

It seems to me that what ‘art school is’ is something that’s never really been as constant or as fixed as the way people like to talk about it. With regards to the climate in which we now live, I am saddened by what can only be interpreted as an attack not only on our art schools but also upon our entire education system. What is also saddening is the somewhat misguided notion that our only hope is to weather the storm until a more sympathetic government comes into power. In strictly educational terms, I think there’s hope – or rather, I hope there’s hope – in independent art school initiatives.


To find out more about  The Institute of Jamais Vu visit their website at, https://www.theinstituteofjamaisvu.com.






1 Comment on The Institute of Jamais Vu

  1. p.s. the Institute of Jamais Vu is Isaac Clarke, Joshua Hart, Sarah Birtles, Elinor Cantrill, Harlan Whittingham,Tom Bennett, Jennifer Bull, Ashley Bailey, Benjamin Slinger, Kieren Hennessy, Patrick Beardmore, Emilie Spark Guillaume, Francis Lloyd-Jones, Leah Clements, Ingram Roeder & Joseph Buckley.

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