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Meet Antoine Midant

Today we’d like to introduce you to Antoine Midant.

Every artist has a unique story. Can you briefly walk us through yours?
I did not plan to be an artist; actually like many young people, I did not even know that it was an option. I was 17 years old when I left France to study economics at Bard College on the East Coast. There, by chance, I stumbled upon a photography class and gave it a try. A few hours in the darkroom later, I was hooked and it became my primary focus. After graduating in 2016, I moved to Los Angeles. I thought it was the ideal playground for a photographer because of the city’s diverse landscapes and personalities. I had a rather unusual encounter with Los Angeles because my first project was about the oil industry and the agriculture: two of the founding industries of our metropolis. After one year, I was running out of time on my visa but felt a strong connection to my surroundings so I made the costly decision to go back to school and got an MFA from Calarts. I usually say that the faculty at Bard taught me how to see and at Calarts, they taught me how to think.

Please tell us about your art.
The most important thing I do as an artist is learn from making art. Of course, I make things, photographs, sculptures, paintings… but they are merely witnesses to the evolution of my thought process. The things will disappear but what I learn while making them remains and in turn informs the next project. Making art is a way for me to constantly question my surroundings and myself, often in order to appreciate them better. In a way, my art is so closely connected to my current environment and state of mind that those things blend until they become indissociable. That brings me to working in collaboration with my friends, my family, the people I share my thoughts with. I’m aware it’s a very idealist way to think about art in disconnect with the market. There was an incredible show at MOCA in 2018 called White Elephant Vs Termite Art, curated by Helen Molesworth. The term termite art, coined by Manny Farber, defines well my approach to art, “an art of both observing and being in the world”.

When I show my work, I like to have a lot of different media and an engaging environment. My exhibitions are generous with their audience, I stay away from the ubiquitous “contemporary art gallery looks and codes”, which I find cold and universalizing. In turn, I like to show found objects next to fancy photographic prints or one-minute sculptures next to time-consuming paintings. I give the audience room to make their own connections and observations, and ideally, these are the things they should take away from seeing my work. Some other things you should know about my work are that it is funny and/or playful, it is rooted in photography and I think a lot of it isn’t that good anymore. Finally, my next show will be about the day the dinosaurs died; maybe it’s my way of fulfilling my childhood dreams of paleontology.

Choosing a creative or artistic path comes with many financial challenges. Any advice for those struggling to focus on their artwork due to financial concerns?
Artists have to do a lot of problem-solving. How to pay the bills and maintain a practice is one of the greater challenges. For me, it became easier when I let go of the pressure of maintaining the image that people have of an artist. Not everyone needs a studio filled with expensive gear and materials, or gallery shows that will help you sell your work. All I need to exist as an artist is to be able to escape, even for the time of a neighborhood walk, the systems that make it so hard for artists to exist in the first place. I encourage everybody to notice the things that catch your eye, or your mind, it’s necessary to indulge in things that are considered unimportant. Share them with your friends and family.

How or where can people see your work? How can people support your work?
The best way to experiment my work is wherever the physical show takes place. Every show I work on incorporates site and audience-specific elements. Those can often get lost in the photographic translation. If you are interested in having a conversation or seeing my next show, I’m happy to discuss over email, antoinemidant@gmail.com. My website has all the documentation.

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