LAC & S – Lavitrine is a surprising name. It is nevertheless on the shores of a very real lake, that of Vassivière, that this contemporary art association that manages an exhibition space on Rue Raspail in Limoges was born. That was back in 1983, and the Centre international d’art & du paysage of Vassivière Island didn’t yet exist. On the island, a symposium on sculpture was held, after which the Limousin art contemporain et sculptures – LAC & S was created, launched by a group of artists and Marc Sautivet, a mathematics teacher. Up until 2002, the association programmed exhibitions at the Château de Nedde every summer, not far from the famous Plateau de Millevaches. In 2003, everything changed: from the rural area that it had always been, LAC & S became urban, moving into downtown Limoges and assuming the name of Lavitrine.
Kristina Depaulis (artist and currently the association’s treasurer) describes this 50 km side step as “a big transformation. In Nedde, our activity came to a close: either we stopped or we had to find a new form for it. That was how, after searching for ages, we found a place to rent in downtown Limoges. It brought our team together; it really transformed our commitment.”
This remark strikes me all the more in the present context as I write this text – that of the long interprofessional strike against retirement reform, in which the Art en grève [Art on Strike] movement was notably formed – a call to focus on the material conditions of the work of artists and associations. LAC & S – Lavitrine is an association formed by an artists’ collective, all volunteers, besides one artist currently employed part-time, who organises seven exhibitions per year, within and beyond its walls. Dominique Thébault, the chair, was later joined – in addition to the above-mentioned Kristina – by Jean-Marc Berguel, Antoine Gatet, Aurélie Gatet, Lidia Lelong, Mathias Le Royer, and Martine Parcineau.
An artists’ collective does not work in the same way nor does it program the same exhibitions as an art centre directed by a curator. LAC & S has significantly – it seems to me – always paid its exhibiting artists, which was far from being the norm in the 1980s (and is still not systematic today).
“Even if the programming is multidisciplinary, we share a sensibility and provide a sustained focus on sculpture,” Kristina emphasises. “Many of us are sculptors ourselves within the collective. All of the programming decisions are made collectively. We come up with an idea, then we debate everything.” The majority of the exhibitions are collective: “We did a few monographic exhibitions early on, but we soon realised that what we were interested in was comparing practices.” Lavitrine is now considered a space open to young creation, which is fostered particularly through a partnership with the nearby École nationale supérieure d’art de Limoges whose pedagogy hopes to be attentive to the area’s historic specificity with respect to porcelain and ceramics. Since 2019, Lavitrine, equally as attentive to this aspect of creation, has developed Autres Multiples, a programme of production of serial sculptural artworks made by artists in association with porcelain businesses and workshops. The first edition has just ended at Lavitrine and brought artists Bernard Calet, Florent Lamouroux, Eloïse Le Gallo, and Bruno Peinado, as well as Kristina and Lidia, into contact with four businesses located in the Limousin region, resulting in the creation of thirty works by each artist.