One day, in her home country of France, singer-songwriter Laetitia Duveau was wearing a purple coat, when a girl approached her just to say, “What's this jacket you’re wearing? It's disgusting!” This, and many other daily interactions wrought with malice and competition, instilled in Duveau a longing for a city where she could feel free. That's when she found Berlin.
Originally visiting on tour with her band, Duveau says she fell in love with the vibe, feeling unfettered to be inspired, create, and express herself without pressure for commercial success. After a few months, she came across an article which perfectly encapsulated her feelings: written by Keith Telfeyan for I Heart Berlin, "Arriving at the Berlin State of Mind" discusses the city's particular sense of liberation. With Telfeyan’s words and the city’s open creative energy as her inspiration, Duveau settled on the of her first gallery show: Freer in Berlin.
Having co-founded the online art platform Curated by GIRLS earlier this year, Duveau has taken the feeling of freedom Berlin has given her, and used every inch of it to create both a challenge for herself, and a community for others. In a world where people are often defined and organized by their race, sexual orientation, and gender, Duveau seeks to create a corner of the internet where who you are is irrelevant, but what you’re trying to say is paramount. “When I receive a submission, or when I like an artist, I’m not really thinking about who it is. I’m not like, 'Are you a guy? Are you a girl? Are you trans?'" she tells The Creators Project. For Duveau, the focus is on the work, and in her experience, diversity breeds quality. “Of course there are a lot of females represented," she says, "but that’s only because I think the work is amazing. What I like is when there is something behind the work, a message that is strong. And if a straight male has something to say that fits in that line, I will not exclude him. I don’t care about the gender, I want everybody to be represented."
Having existed online for the past five months, Curated by Girls is now branching out to put on their first gallery show, the aforementioned Freer in Berlin. The exhibition features 26 artists from all over Europe and the Americas, each one exploring the subject of “New Femininity,” which looks to create a new vision of what femininity is today (excluding the constrictive stereotypes women have fought so hard to be released from).
“I think we’re all partly female, partly male. Depending on your personality, it’s different. I know a lot of straight men who are maybe more feminine than me. It really depends,” says Deveau, “A woman can be sexy if she wants, but she can also be not so sexy, she can be hairy, skinny, or voluptuous, I’m trying to show that beauty is in everyone.” Moving forward Duveau hopes to continue her work online, as well as curate an “IRL exhibition” every season. For now, she's content to marvel in the vibrant community her platform has drawn to her. “Curated by Girls has taught me to be less focused on myself. It’s good for you, to be open to others, share works of others, and help others. It’s generous, you know, but it feels good,” she explains. These days, Duveau can be found behind her computer or unrolling prints in a gallery somewhere, wearing that purple jacket, and not hearing a damn thing about it.