Albertine Diaries

Céline Tricart: “I Want to Demystify Access to Culture”

Every month, France-Amérique talks to a resident at Villa Albertine, the cultural institution from the French Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs, which offers an annual program of 60 artistic and cultural residencies in the United States. The September issue features Céline Tricart, an author and director of immersive experiences and the founder of the Lucid Dreams production company in Los Angeles. With the help of the National Gallery of Art in Washington D.C. and the Musée des Beaux-Arts in Rouen, she is preparing a “narrative journey” to revamp the image of museums and culture.
© Alvaro Argueta

I grew up in rural parts of France, in the Moselle and Isère départements. The closest museum was more than an hour’s drive away, and no one among my family or friends was interested in culture. For many years, I was intimidated when walking into an art gallery. I felt like I wasn’t educated enough to form an intelligent opinion about the works on show, as though I was missing a secret key to unlock this mysterious world. I didn’t feel like I belonged there. I therefore avoided museums for most of my life.

When I got older, I specialized in storytelling. I started working in film and moved to Los Angeles nine years ago to become a director. I became an expert in new technologies, starting with 3D, then virtual reality, and my work today is based on a poetic, emotional approach to narration. When Villa Albertine offered me a chance to take part in its inaugural residency program, I decided to confront my nemesis: museums and art galleries.

The National Gallery of Art in Washington D.C. © AgnosticPreachersKid

This is how the Constellations project was born. My goal is to offer visitors a narrative journey using augmented reality to discover different works of art. As humans, we have always understood the world through narration, ever since we sat around fires telling tales. And by wearing connected glasses to layer digital features over the real world, the journey brings the story to life. Constellations is a first-person experience that tries to reconcile people like me with cultural spaces.

My other objective is to enable visitors to create positive memories by leaving a work of virtual art behind them. By seeing their own creations in a museum, I hope that they will develop self-confidence and stop doubting their legitimacy in the art world. I want to demystify and humanize access to culture. To do this, I spent three weeks in residence at the National Gallery of Art, where I was welcomed by Mary Morton, the curator in charge of French paintings.

My hope is now to generate enough interest to attract investors and launch a prototype of Constellations to share with visitors at the National Gallery of Art and the Musée des Beaux-Arts in Rouen, our partner institution in France. However, Constellations is not supposed to be a pop-up installation designed for a specific site or exhibition. I have a vision of a cost-effective tool that can be quickly adapted to new spaces and stories. A tool that can be used everywhere to help bridge the gap between museums and people like me, who feel like they don’t belong. A tool to make culture more accessible


Article published in the September 2022 issue of France-Amérique. Subscribe to the magazine.