We'd like to be mysterious but we like to talk too much (...)

Ethan Assouline

  • U+0053-001

    Latin Capital Letter S

  • S


  • w.n.

    Black felt-tip pen, 4 × 1,5 cm

  • Lycée Jean-Pierre Timbaud, Brétigny-sur-Orge


“We’d like to be mysterious but we enjoy talking too much [...]”

Curator: Thomas Maestro

During his time as artist-in-residence, Ethan Assouline will observe the ways in which teenagers construct themselves and develop their language for themselves, between themselves and in relation to the world. While childhood is often idealised and perceived as a playful bubble protected from the world, this conceals its complexities and violence. Adolescence, for its part, plunges individuals into a period of internal and external struggle, against their peers, their family, society… It is seen as a continuation of the journey towards autonomy and a first step into the adult world where we must face the choices on offer or imposed upon us. Teenagers find themselves at a crucial point in the construction of their identity, which takes place within different groups: the family, friendship circles, romantic relationships, school and first work experiences. Intimacy can therefore be a place to express inner uneasiness, like a space for self-construction and self-reflection, a refuge that allows us to decide what we keep to ourselves and what we share with others.

The artist will offer teenagers from the organisation Repères the opportunity to imagine and create diaries. They will create objects, receptacles allowing the participants to conceal or reveal their intimate thoughts. These diaries will be a place for secret or shared stories written during the writing workshops that will punctuate the residency. These workshops will encourage the young people to develop a personal relationship with writing and attempt to overcome any inhibitions they may have when it comes to their written work. They will be able to see the “quality” of a text as a moveable concept, which changes depending on the viewpoint of its author and its potential readers. From time to time, other artists will come to share with the participants different ways of expressing and sharing intimate things, through drawing, sewing or group readings, for example.

The participants will also have the opportunity to travel the surrounding areas of the city. The changes that affect us on an individual level at certain times in our lives can be related to observations of the city, that constantly evolving communal space. Together, the participants will talk about what has changed, what has been destroyed, what has been built. They will be able to look for the reasons behind these changes and understand who benefits from them.

Through visual works, writing and conversations, the artist and the participants will discuss together the role of speech and the idea of having a voice: how we construct our voice; how we take the floor; the usefulness of speech and voice in moments of self-transformation and affirmation; how this is shared to create and find common spaces; the political role of speech; and the sometimes necessary role of silence. The artist will document the discussions, individual experiences and shared attempts throughout the residency. Editorial work, which could be collective, will aim to build an archive. A fanzine will also bring together traces of the project in its multiple forms, to render it accessible to the public without divulging any secrets.

it’s hard to imagine
a world without you
because you’ve forced your way
into our gaze

so our words
rest a while
in a small corner
that we built
at the heart of your horror
and then emerge

we stay alert
we document
we close neither our eyes
nor our mouths
because to close them
would be to leave the world
in your hands

[1] Ethan Assouline, extract from que faut-il vous dire ? (text in progress), 2023.


After studying at different art schools (ESADHaR Le Havre and Rouen), Thomas Maestro chose to bring a curatorial dimension into his artistic practice. He trained through a master’s degree in exhibition curation (Sorbonne Université) and is a member of the collective Champs magnétiques. With this group, he co-constructed the cycles of exhibitions “Des soleils encore verts” (2021) and “Le reseau des murmures” (2023-2024). He has also worked as an associate curator and project manager at Cneai (Centre National Édition Art Image) and was artistic and curatorial assistant to Daniel Purroy in Vitry-sur-Seine (artist and former artistic director of the Galerie Municipale Jean-Collet). He is also a member of the artistic and curatorial duo Éléments partout, co-founded in 2020 with his collaborator Agathe Schneider. He is interested in secrets, shifts in reality, ruins and shacks, in what is barely visible but very much present. Transmission, as a vector for collective movements, is at the heart of his aspirations.

Ethan Assouline (born 1994) lives and works in the Paris region. Through sculpture, installation, writing, publishing, drawing and the organisation of collective events around reading and writing, he tries and takes a critical look at the modern city and its language in his architectural, economic and political dimensions. His work was presented at the art and research centre Macao in Milan in 2019, at Crédac in Ivry-sur-Seine in 2022 and at Le Grand Café in Saint-Nazaire in 2023. He is a member of Treize, a non-profit organisation for production, exhibitions, and editions.

This project is part of the “Contrat d'Éducation Artistique et Culturelle” (CTEAC) of Coeur d'Essonne Agglomération with the DRAC Île de France and the Academy of Versailles.