Marine Tanguy, Founder, and CEO of MTArt Agency in London spent time speaking with me last week about everything from her art agency to discussing her new partnership with M&C Saatchi called “Visual Diet.” Visual Diet highlights the detrimental impact on mental health that images of a certain kind can have. As we exist in a world now that is fixated on an unreal perfection that is heavily edited with photo editors such as Facetune, we are forced to grapple as a society with the effects that this has more broadly.
Furthermore, young women are particularly affected by this imagery that is consumed on a daily basis on platforms such as Instagram. Influencers such as Kim Kardashian can become more cognizant of their social responsibility, and can use their platform in ways that generate positive social change in the world; women such as Malala should have every opportunity to have the same kind of influence as Kim Kardashian. This topic was covered in Marine’s TEDxLausanne speech last year.
Marine is on the Forbes 30 Under 30 List for 2018 in Arts & Culture; her art agency is a groundbreaking model that represents artists rather than the classic gallery model in the art industry that focuses on collecting art. Each month, a committee selects 200 artists to be represented by her agency. The work that Marine does to keep art alive should be scaled globally in my opinion as her agency is on the pulse of our contemporary artistic experiences. Our conversation spanned many topics, but a shared understanding was at its ethos: there is much work to be done with spreading awareness to the impact of images on the mind.
Bianca: I appreciate you chatting with me, when I saw a clip of you on France 24, I was incredibly impressed and think that your work is amazing. Thank you for speaking with me!
Marine: You’re very kind. I’ve been in the industry for about 10 years and I was a young gallery director when I was 21 in London, then later founded my own gallery in Los Angeles at age 23. This is when I got introduced to all of the top Hollywood agencies. Two-thirds of galleries are currently not profitable and many galleries were not seeing many people coming through their doors and on the other end, I just felt that the artists were not greatly supported through that system. I think the Hollywood agency model was a lot more 360, and it was really behind the artist more. We are still a very conservative industry, and the art agency model is very unique for the art industry, but I’m hoping that more people will be following the lead after us.
Bianca: You have so many different avenues to enter into creating this social change. The way that I perceived your Visual Diet partnership with Saatchi is being a part of a social movement that’s happening right now regarding how people perceive social media.
Marine: Yes, when I was in Hollywood, I was shocked by the Hollywood machines, like who is making people famous and that was really an eye-opener in terms of the influence that people have… I always pick on the example of Kim Kardashian, but it’s really the voices that we hear and there is such an opportunity for who people are giving a voice to that matters. Fast forward to when we started talking about the art agency, and it’s become political in my head: it’s becoming a battle of content and what content are people consuming? If a young girl spends five hours on social media every day, her visit to a museum every three months is irrelevant, it won’t impact her brain.
Bianca: I think we are looking at a situation that is the Wild West of imagery right now, and I really appreciate how you’re thinking about these systems and systems change, because that’s actually a lot of the work that we do where I’m at, we think about how philanthropy can dramatically change populations and communities. I’ve always been very visual, making collages and taking art classes, and I’m very invested in what you’re doing because I think you can make a big change in the world.
Marine: I think initially it was a personal belief and passion for art and the interesting thing is now considering the mental health perspective, considering who is harmless and who is not on your mental health. I think more and more people are seeing that it’s a lot more than me just being into art.
Bianca: Exactly. For me, working in philanthropy is really inspiring for similar reasons.
Marine: One idea that might be interesting to you is what does it mean to be visually inspiring? The idea that we had for Visual Diet with M&C Saatchi is if anyone takes on certain principles, they should be recognized, perhaps creating an award show for what is visually inspiring. We are looking for partnerships across industries to identify what’s most visually inspiring… You should not lose anything in business, but you’re also doing something that’s very nice and making a difference that way. We want to show that visual artists are the voices we should listen more to.
Bianca: I think you already are, Marine! I think it’s about spreading awareness and when people see that [inspiring visuals] can be rigorously applied across industries and how that goes past the art industry, I think many people will be behind you.
Marine: Thank you. I think women feel particularly touched by this. With the advertising world, we’ve been targeted much more than men. I think to feel empowered visually is a big change. As women, I think we feel even more passionately about it.