Numa Hambursin, “We have set up a psychological unit”

What was your first reaction when you learned of the disappearance of Vincent Honoré, the director of exhibitions at Mo.Co, who died on November 29?
Numa Hambursin: This horrible news shocked all of us, the team and myself. Faced with such a tragedy, I was overwhelmed by many emotions: astonishment, disbelief, pain, incomprehension, sadness. I thought of the team and their plight. We have canceled events and closed both art centers for two days. We set up a psychological unit the next day for his closest colleagues, then for all staff the following week. A tribute will be organized soon.

The press is talking about a suicide, do you confirm the information? Has a police investigation been launched?
NH : Emergency services dispatched to his home explained that he had ended his life. For the moment, I have no other official information.

Vincent Honoré.


What was Vincent Honoré’s journey before joining Mo.Co?
NH : Vincent Honoré began his career in contemporary art at the Palais de Tokyo in Paris (2001-2004) before leaving for London where he worked at the Tate Modern, the David Robert Art Foundation (DRAF) then at the center of art at the Hayward Gallery as senior curator. At the same time, he worked as an independent curator and was notably responsible for the 13th Baltic Triennal in 2017 and the Kosovo pavilion at the 58th Venice Biennale. Recently, he organized an exhibition by Zoe Williams for the Panorama de la Friche in Marseille. He was particularly interested in post-colonial issues, gender and identity, with particular attention to young artists.

When did he join Mo.Co and with what responsibilities? Was his employment contract modified when you took over?
NH : In 2019, a few months before the opening of Mo.Co, Vincent Honoré was recruited by Nicolas Bourriaud [le prédécesseur de Numa Hambursin, ndlr] to direct the “curatorial” service. Beyond a classic mission at the head of the exhibitions department, it was also a question of inventing the functioning of an original model. His job description has not been modified since 2019. When I arrived in 2021, I renewed his contract with a salary increase. I absolutely wanted him to stay. Vincent Honoré was one of the designers of the institution as it exists today, linking the school of fine arts and the two art centers. He was curator or co-curator of numerous exhibitions, such as that of Ana Mendieta this summer or “Museums in Exile” last year.

Beyond its mission, what was its contribution to Mo.Co?
NH : I am happy to be able to pay tribute to Vincent Honoré in your pages. He was a pillar of Mo.Co and an essential member of the management committee. Vincent Honoré was invested in his profession of which he was proud. He had just signed the magnificent exhibition of the American-Pakistani artist Huma Bhabha, which was praised by all. He had spoken to me enthusiastically about the catalog he had just overseen and we were working together on the spring exhibitions. By October he had selected an important artist for a major exhibition in 2025 and was looking forward to starting work.

It seems that Vincent Honoré tried to leave Mo.Co – without success – what about it?
NH : Vincent Honoré had been a finalist for the position of director at the Lambert Collection in Avignon. He spoke to me about it in complete transparency. I supported him in this project because it was natural that he aspired to lead a great institution. It was a few months ago already and it had in no way affected the quality of his involvement at Mo.Co. It would be simplistic to consider hypothetical unsuccessful candidacies from him. He was much more than that. He was a brilliant, complex and ambitious character for himself and our institution. He was committed to the influence of Mo.Co at the territorial, national and international level.
I admired his clairvoyant intelligence, his knowledge of hanging and the quality of his written interviews with the artists. He taught the whole team a lot. He was a true professional, always present and committed. It is this image of a passionate intellectual that I wish to preserve.

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