1) Stay Fresh
@bebi
 
Insight interview with YANNICK VAL GESTO
by QUINTESSA MATRANGA

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

01Stay Fresh, at bebi space, exhibition view, 2015

1. To start off, could you talk a little about the aesthetic you are after for this first show? You described it to me as a showcase of mature work that embodies teenage/underdog-aesthetics. Strong visual work. Duality in terms of style and content. Awareness of surroundings and digitalization. Non-conformitive.

It’s hard to talk about this underdog aesthetic without going into detail or working with examples. In general, I’m very attracted to a specific style of visual communication that’s borderline anti-aesthetic yet beautiful in its honesty – an aesthetic that can be found in everyday life but more frequently online. An aesthetic that serves a very direct purpose. For example: a gamer’s online signature (imbued with cheap CGI) or a 12 year old’s first attempt at doing graffiti, could fit this description quite nicely. For Bebi’s first show i wanted to make a statement and present works from different artists that consciously embody this type of ‘underdog aesthetic’, works that emit a playful naivety yet show a strong sense of control and craftsmanship.

The contrast between the technical aspect of this whole project and the selection of works is also something I find quite interesting; it’s a theme I also like to explore within my personal work. You could say that all the works in the show have been heavily sacralised, not only due to them being remade as geometry in a 3D space, but also due to Bebi’s clean, white nature and the realness of the lighting.

White.transp.bkg 02Stay Fresh, at bebi space, exhibition view, 2015

2. What originally prompted you to start Bebi?

I’ve had this idea in my head for quite a while but I never felt like it was the right time. Either my 3D editing skills weren’t on point or I was too engulfed with other ideas and projects. I also want to do things as good as possible, nothing half assed, so I guess that’s why it took me a few years before starting with a project like this, but I’m confident and think I’m ready now. To go even further back, it might have been my interest in custom level design for video games that got me over the edge as well. Like, for example, I still can’t get over how amazing the concept and existence of Counter-Strike custom surf_maps is.

Apart from that, Bebi allows me to collaborate with artists i value a lot, without dealing with the monetary restrictions a real life project-space brings. Although I should admit that I underestimated the amount of energy and time that’s required to organize and produce a project like this.

It just occurred to me that I did try something similar like this but more experimental, within Minecraft, a few years ago. I created this clean white museum, filled with silly installations that had stupid names (f.e. Daddy DJ please take me to Mordor). I managed to import some random images of actual art in the game, but this was on a shared server with friends so everything was chaotic and eclectic as hell, good times though, good times.

03Stay Fresh, at bebi space, exhibition view, 2015

3. What about the choice to make this a virtual experience? On the one hand you are streamlining the exhibition to just its rawest most agile self. The images end up being the most important part of exhibitions because they are in a sense, indestructible and the longest lasting most far-reaching part of a show.

Documentation is a key part of an artist’ practice. The rise of social media and digitalization of our (visual) culture have had a big impact on how we experience and look at art, documentation itself has become art. The latter statement might be a bit extreme but I think you understand my point. The whole concept behind Bebi is a direct result of our obsession with documentation and I’m very excited to see these architectural 3D renders of virtual art to be placed amongst or next to photographs of real, physical art. The latter explains why Bebi’s exhibitions need to be believable, they need to seem real, no gimmicks, no surreal events. This is one of the main reasons why Bebi is non-interactive, why Bebi focuses on documentation, stills – rather than providing an interactive 3D environment.

It’s exactly like you say, that documentation itself is everlasting, it is the most far reaching part of a show and that’s exactly why Bebi can exist in times like these. Also, I’m not trying to point out that anything about the current situation is bad or wrong though, it’s this obsession with the documentation of art that we have, that has gotten me in touch with so many wonderful artists out there.

04A bad year for Bordeaux, 2015, various dimensions, Quintessa Matranga

4. What’s the future programming going to be like for Bebi? Have you begun to plan your next few shows?

I’ve got a bit of a list (i couldn’t find it the other day though :-D) with very interesting artists, people whose work I’m passionate about, artists I’ve been following for quite a while. I’m figuring out how to put these individuals together and am planning to do a few shows each year, depending on my personal workload. I hope i can surprise people with some interesting matchups.

5. I’d like to ask you about your ideas around the architecture you choose to model Bebi off of? Was there a specific space you were looking at or is it a composite taken from multiple sources…?

I looked at several galleries and project spaces’ documentation and adapted their overall lighting and feel, also to make sure that the exhibition space i was creating would look believable and real. In short, Bebi’s architecture is pretty basic, it’s a two room space, with it’s main space being 16 x 8 meters. The main goal was to create a virtual copy of the perfect exhibiting space. (…) It’s important to add though, that i don’t want to keep this place clean, white and tidy forever. For the opening show i didn’t want to go all out in terms of transforming the space. In future shows some walls might be painted or added, just like they would in an actual ‘gallery’.

05Nightmare, 2015, 128 x 81 cm, Yannick Val Gesto

6. I have to ask you about the title, Bebi. Where does it come from and what is its significance to you?

It’s a nickname i started using a few years ago, it’s derived from Tactical Baby, a name i would use in some of the games i played online. Baby (ベビー, Bebī) is also a pretty interesting character in the Dragonball GT universe, he’s an extremely cute and powerful parasite alien.

7. How do you feel about selling artwork from Bebi, if it came up. Since it is a virtual (real) show. Are works for sale and if so how would Bebi take form in the physical world of objects?

It’s something i have to think about, the main goal for Bebi is to make a statement, to exhibit an artistic vision and collaborate with a wide range of artists. You have to see Bebi as an artist-run project space, albeit digitally. I’m open to the idea of people buying physical versions of some of the exhibited works, but that would have to be discussed with the artists themselves. (…) In terms of Bebi taking form physically, I’m interested in the idea of recreating these virtual shows in real life. But I don’t want to get ahead of myself.

06Untitled, 2015, various dimensions, Last Renaissance

07Crusty Old Weeds, 2015, 29 x 21 cm, Leon Sadler

8. What or where do you think is the ideal way to view art?

Not at openings. I like to be on my own when looking at work, in the company of my girlfriend or with a friend or two. I also enjoy looking at art online, when it’s isolated.

9. What are you favorite anime? What are your favorite video games?

That’s quite difficult to answer. I would probably pick Hunter x Hunter (2011) as my favorite anime of all time, for various reasons. Great Teacher Onizuka comes in close at second place, it’s just too funny. You must see ‘Faces of Onizuka’ on youtube! (…) In terms of video games I would have to namedrop the more recent Souls’ series, the atmosphere and gameplay is so intense. There is not much like it nowadays. My taste in games is quite eclectic and I could talk about games for hours so let’s just say that I’m a big Nintendo fan and that I’ve been enjoying me some MGSV recently.

08Stay Fresh, at bebi space, exhibition view,
central sculpture: Untitled, 2015, 193 x 100 x 151 cm, Last Renaissance

09Stay Fresh, at bebi space, exhibition view, 2015

10. What are some of your favorite past screen names? One of my first screen names was tigerlilly711 (even though it’s really embarrassing it still makes me feel something when I see it).

My first nickname was freak_doggie, I think I was 13 years old at the time. I used to have these stupid, uninspired names with symbols attached to them. Nowadays i use Tac_Bebi, Splat Bebi or simple male names such as James and Jason. Doing the latter puts a grin on my face, because you are messing around with the character you are playing as, you’re giving it this really specific yet generic name and it doesn’t mean anything at all, not to mention the fact that you are pulling a prank on something that doesn’t have a consciousness. Lol

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10ABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQUINTESSA, My foot fell asleep!, 2015, 90 x 75 cm Quintessa Matranga

11Real Witch Art, My First Cocoon, 2015, 180 x 135 cm, Leon Sadler

12International Incident, 2015, various dimensions, Quintessa Matranga

13Stay Fresh, at bebi space, exhibition view, 2015

14James, 2015, 165 x 135 cm, Yannick Val Gesto

15LEC2, 2015, 180 x 135 cm, Leon Sadler

1) Stay Fresh
@bebi

Bebi is a curatorial platform ran by Yannick Val Gesto launched in September 2015 together with its first group exhibition titled Stay Fresh, which features works by by Quintessa Matranga, Leon Sadler, Yannick Val Gesto, and Last Renaissance (Rafael Delacruz, Alex Moquist and Ian Maberley).

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www.bebispace.com

Interview made by Quintessa Matranga with Yannick Val Gesto for O Fluxo.
© These images and works are courtesy of Bebi and Its respective artists.
O Fluxo, September 2015