It was in 2014 that Romane Domas, a student at architecture school, and Bruno Silva, a young artist, decided to move in together. Their apartment, based in Clermont-Ferrand, had to respond to one essential criterion: the possibility of being used as an exhibition space. This search resulted mainly from a strong desire to cohabitate with artworks. The apartment, located at 6 Place Saint-Pierre, with its double lounge and two attics, would thus become the starting point of a protean and collective project. Romane and Bruno chose to offer the guest artists their own living space as a site of experimentation.
home alonE falls within this multitude of alternative projects that shuck off the stranglehold of the museum to experiment with domestic space as an exhibition venue. In 1986, in the city of Ghent, Belgian art historian and curator Jan Hoet devised, the manifesto exhibition Chambres d’Amis.1 Around fifty local residents welcomed artists and their artworks inside their homes. The contours of this curatorial project were used again during the Lyon Biennale in 2013, with the programme Chez moi launched by Veduta.2 Seventy apartments and houses opened their doors to the artists presented at this biennial event. Art lovers agreed to participate, cohabitating for several months with an artwork, and were invited to share their experiences. For these various initiatives, it was not a matter of reconstructing an exhibition hall but of preserving the original character of the place of residence, which thus served as a context and medium for the guest artists.
home alonE echoes the title of the film from 1990 starring Macaulay Culkin. No flights would be taken to any destination in the creation of this project: unlike certain graduate artists who move to cities like Paris or Marseille, Romane and Bruno wanted to settle in Clermont-Ferrand for the foreseeable. home alonE therefore belongs to a broader dynamic driven by an ecosystem of venues and projects in Clermont-Ferrand that have been created since the 2000s: the art space In extenso (2002), La Tôlerie (2003), La belle revue (2009), Artistes en Résidence (2011), or Les Ateliers (2012). It was in the midst of this contagious energy that the very essence of this experimental project was conceived: to give visibility to artists living on the territory.
Not wishing to have any predefined artistic line, the programming of home alonE intends to be free and evolutive. From the first year of activity, Romane and Bruno were organising eclectic events in their apartment, such as the ‘ciné-mystères’ then the ‘ciné-resto-mystères’. The films screened, along with their associated meals, were never announced in advance. home alonE once again thwarted the rules of traditional communication. The exhibitions and events were haphazardly programmed from one encounter to the next, as in 2015, when Bruno and Romane were contacted by Clawson & Ward, two English artists who wanted to exhibit at the space. Their discussions led to an apartment and studio swap. The artists came to occupy home alonE while Romane and Bruno flew to Bristol. From this experience came the desire to create KITE,3 a platform that aimed to connect artist-run spaces with a view to establishing exchanges between locations – a crafty way of cooperating, pooling resources, and fostering contact between artist-run spaces.
In 2018, artist Clara Puleio joined the project and opened the doors of her home on Rue du Port. Romane kept the apartment Place Saint-Pierre and Bruno moved into Rue Drelon, still in Clermont-Ferrand. More recently, the artist Hervé Bréhier established himself as a new home alonE ‘franchisee’ in his village of Saint-Pierre-le-Chastel. The concept of the ‘franchise’ is reappropriated here and adapted for the purposes developed by home alonE. It passes from hand to hand, with no one wishing to appropriate it, but everyone hoping to develop a communal project. Starting with a single apartment, the project now has four sites, facetiously providing four distinct logos: an upturned house, a porch, a pickle, and a pumpkin. This project is collective and yet each space has its own freedom and way of experimenting with the inhabited exhibition space. For instance, Bruno deliberately chose the hallway of his apartment – a thoroughfare – to invite Marion Chambinaud to exhibit her sculptures in July 2020. He also wanted to create new forms of archiving and has been motivated to draw and express his contextual relationship with the artworks.
Since its creation in 2014, thirty-nine exhibitions, events, or projects have already emerged. Romane, Bruno, Clara, and Hervé intend to systematically give carte blanche to artists who express the desire to experiment within their home exhibition spaces. home alonE is a great example of a multiform project that, by permeabilising public and private spheres, allows a plethora of encounters to emerge.
- Altshuler, Bruce, Biennials and Beyond - Exhibitions That Made Art History 1962-2002 (New York: Phaidon, 2013), 229–238.
- Veduta is a programme of the Biennale d’art contemporain de Lyon that is dedicated to cultural mediation within the various territories of the metropolitan area.
- The KITE platform is currently in the development phase but the members of home alonE hope to be able to take it online in the near future.