Ambre Chambon grew up in the South of France, far from the Parisian life she dreamed about. With hard work and passion, she’s immersed herself in Paris and in the rich cultural life at 3537 specifically, where she works with communication and cultural projects. A path that suits her well as she is intent on fighting for her beliefs – putting culture before anything else, and always letting life surprise her.
Caroline Berner Kühl: We are at 3537 – tell me about what you do here?
Ambre Chambon: What we do, I always call it culture, but in the end, it's more like counter-culture. With underground alternative ways to showing culture before they become established. I like to say that we show this unseen scene of people who wants to have a voice and show their passions, but who often finds themselves outside of systems. It’s a space for emergent art and culture.
C: How did you end up here? Can you tell a bit about your journey?
A: I was born in Paris but I grew up in the south of France, on the French Riviera. I was always passionate about the arts, and my mum used to take me to museums. I was very curious about discovering new things. I knew from a very young age that I wanted to work somewhere between art, fashion and culture, so I worked very hard to achieve my dreams. I came to Paris to study fashion at École Duperré Paris, a public school. I graduated at 21, a little more than a year ago. I was always told that diplomas were the only way to achieve your dreams, but I’ve later realized that it is not the case. There are many ways to learn about your passions.
C: And how did you end up at 3537?
A: I was about to achieve my bachelor’s degree and someone from 3537 approached me about this new building in central Paris where they were about to launch a new cultural project and asked me to join. I fell in love with the energy, the people, the creativity and freedom. So, I first signed on as an intern, to work on communications. That was my first role, but the more you immerse yourself in this project, you get to do all sorts of different things. I signed my real contract in March 2022 as communication & cultural projects manager.
C: What’s it been like?
A: It makes sense with my background and the path that I am on. Even though I was not expecting to have this kind of job at 22, it feels like a sign from life saying that school is a thing, but you don’t have to follow the structures that you’ve been taught since you were very young. You can build your own path through your encounters. Everything can be inspiring. I don’t want to say that I am learning more here than at school, but I am learning in a different and powerful way in terms of vision, values and creativity.
C: Things you wouldn’t learn otherwise?
A: It feels like you learn how to live, how to live in a community and how to build a vision. To me, that’s much more interesting, I am really grateful for that. It’s only been a year and two months, and I get to build this strong communication around curation. I am mostly assigned to our cultural projects, helping give the building a life.
C: What I am hearing is also this link between this space showing things a little bit outside of the establishment, and you coming in having broken up with the preconceived idea of needing to go to school to make it?
A: Yeah, and I was given a chance. Even though I was nobody. I truly had to build my own path and connections from scratch in Paris, because I didn’t grow up here.
C: Where exactly did you grow up?
A: I grew up in a very small town in the South of France next to Toulon, between Marseille and Nice. I’ve always been dreaming about Parisian life. A few months ago, I realized that I am living a life more elevated that I have dreamed of. I will keep on pushing though because now my goals have evolved. I think I will always work on culture, explore how to do things differently, and how you can make connections and links. To me communication is finding a way to translate someone’s ideas to people. You've got to understand ideas to express them at a bigger scale. It is also about creating links between projects and people, which is essentially about curation too. That’s why I like this double connection in my job between communication and curation. Because in the end, I think we are all more or less brought to curate or communicate something in our lives.
C: It sounds like this space is giving you a lot of opportunities to expand?
A: Yes, and what drives a cultural project for me is the intention. What do you want to do? Is your exhibition going to be guided by your marketing discourse or by art, mediums and the atmosphere you want to convey? I always fight for culture, from A to Z. And even though in those times we have to consider marketing and financial aspects of a project, I think it’s still possible to lead a project with creative ambitions without always focusing on marketing, it can co-exist.
"When you don’t expect anything, you can be surprised by life. As long as you keep pushing for your values and ethics.
C: Personally, I like how you split things – between the commercial and the art for art’s sake. It is obvious when something has a commercial aspect, it is not covered up.
A: I think by now people have understood what 3537 is and how we are trying to lead the project. It is a cultural place in its own right with obvious links and connections either already given or that we’ve built.
C: You mentioned before or you touched upon your goals. What is your dream?
A: I’m a dreamer, and I've always been one, but I’ve also, completely changed my vision since being here. Before I was thinking very specifically about where I wanted to be next on a long-term projection. But now, because of 3537, I am thinking mostly from day to day. Every single day here is different, which is what I love about it. I don’t get bored. Daily, I am meeting different people, energies, projects and aesthetics. I am focused on the now.
C: Letting go of the fear of not being in control about what’s going to happen?
A: I am thinking about it, and I see it more as a key to my future. Still, I have some aspirations that are driving me. I would love to travel more with my work and implement these ideas of culture in other places. Personally, I am getting very interested in music and sound art, and I want to explore cities know for this kind of art form, like Berlin, Venice and London. I am no longer so determined about very specific goals, because every day is new and exciting.
C: Getting into the flow of life and seeing where it takes you?
A: I found out that expectations can be frustrating and quickly create sadness, and this energy doesn’t bring you anywhere. When you don’t expect anything, you can be surprised by life. As long as you keep pushing for your values and ethics.
C: You mentioned your age – you’re only 22. How has that affected your work?
A: I don’t like to be labeled with my age. People often expect me to be older. I want to prove who I am through my actions, through my thoughts, and not through a number. It is all about your actions and what you do in life. I learned everything myself because I am curious. In the end, it is all about curiosity…