A few months ago, Pia and I had ourselves a little road trip to the other, much quieter side of New York living in the little upstate town of Narrowsberg. Safe to say, we needed to let our superhuman NYC reflexes rest for a minute (in NYC you need to be ready at any moment of any day to be inches away from death by taxi, drenched by dingy puddles, and trampled by the overcrowded sidewalks filled with pedestrians who “have somewhere important to be.”)
Upstate is the exact opposite. Every person we visited was not in a rush, they were gentle and kind, and were planted where it was important to be. Their daily journey did not involve getting 9 things done before 9am. Their home, their neighborhood, and their community was where they needed and wanted to be and that was it.
In honor of July 4th and all of us escaping the city, we’re so excited to take you on a tour of this Americana community over the next few days…
First up, Juliette! I left our day with Juliette feeling like a new woman. I don’t know how to describe it, but I felt like my most true and creative self. It’s rare that people can do that to you in a matter of four hours of being with them. Her whole life is art. Everything she does is completely captivating. She is free and forthright, whimsical and calculated. I’m so excited for you to see a peek into her home and store, Maison Bergogne, below. Meet darling, Juliette!
Describe your style in 3 words.
French in the Catskills // Old-World function & elegance.
Most valued thing in your closet?
My antique panamas.
What’s most important when it comes to style: comfort, beauty, or innovation?
The silhouette for the expressive lines it creates of someone in the world. Like a parfum.
I perceive clothes to be a shield protecting and yet showcasing unique beings in the world. It’s a strength of my character and it always reflects my emotions. Antique and vintage clothing foster my sensitivity to details and mostly the hidden ones—the proportion of a hand stitch, buttons, the discoloration of a natural dye color, the repairs and patches… the history of a piece and how it reminds me of the care & presence we owe one another, and to the Earth.
Are there things you don’t wear and why?
Tee shirts…they are utterly un-elegant and machine made :).
The way you live your life is a work of art. From your style down to the tea cups you served us as we walked in the door, everything feels beautifully curated in the most natural way, which is the most intriguing part. When did your fascination with beautiful things begin and what draws you to antiques? I’d love some insight into how you culminate the magical world of Juliette.
I live life as a conscient choice since I made that decision in my early childhood, which drives me to create opposed to feeling passive. Beauty is subjective, but the energy of caring presence is the strong under current. As I manifest objects to surround my utilitarian lifestyle in America and compose sustainably Maison Bergogne’s installations, I invite local objects and salvage material from attics and barns & currates with local flora from the fields and forests. Objects catalysing my awareness of the natural surrounding and a map to the tradition of craftsmanship.
Choosing objects is each time a key instants where I feel a sense of engagement & responsibility for the piece. Influenced by my sense of duty to pass on genuine sustainable values and the knowledge. I believe it to be my responsibility as artist. I further provide it to the community through Fish & Bicycle – who’s mission is to pass on genuine skills & knowledge through workshops and setting up feasts reflecting our care to protect local farms, fields and forests.
During our time with you, you mentioned that as an artist, it’s not about the medium or technique, but rather the feeling the art invokes. Can you explain this a bit more and how it affects your creative process?
Mastering a medium is a skill, I use my skills to express my emotions, exploring their layers throughout the work. I enjoy the variety of mediums I can use in my social practice work. From an initial emotion intended to be shared to the process of it’s rendering as a experience; it takes all the layers including research, mental mapping, civic and/or legal organization, to sourcing material & executing the physical installation. All aspect of the works are necessary to create a social interactive piece, some people may only interact with part of it but it truly takes it all to produce the experiential piece… my scenes installation or permaculture garden works are an example of that.
You are originally from France – how has living in Upstate changed you as a person in regards to your style and creative influences?
Making life in another country is a lift from my French culture expectations and a deliberate choice to recreate.
The upstate hamlet of Narrowsburg NY is a wonderful place to produce work out of the studio, as Main Street America needs our commitment to revitalize it’s spirit & individuality.
The surrounding mountains, forest & waters simultaneously deeply nourishes me & grounds me by its rhythm. I love the intensity of the seasons change.
Speaking of creative influences, you are very adamant on intertwining nature into everything you do. This goes hand in hand with your fascination to make old things new and beautiful again. What is the purpose or inspiration behind Maison Bergogne and what is the message you would like your world to share with the people who visit?
Nature is a profound source of inspiration as I tap into it’s wisness to developpe permaculture system. An acknowledgment of interconnectivity, weaved in my instalation scene & the needs for permaculture ethics to be at the core of our daily choices. Care of the Earth, Care of People & Returning of surplus to Earth and its People.