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Step Inside The Temple: Interview with Head of Visual Content and Artistic Programming at Koko, Julien Plante

Beginning his career as a film programmer at the Ciné Lumière, Julien Plante has worked with some of the most exciting and established stars of the film and cultural world, launching the first TV channel entirely dedicated to French Cinema, Cinémoi in 2008. He went on to work as a producer and curator with some of the loftiest institutions and organisations in the country including the Royal Institution and Central Hall, Westminster where he co-curated The Convention on Brexit & the Political Crash with The Observer and Open Democracy as media partners, and over 100 speakers including Ian McEwan, Jarvis Cocker, Nick Clegg, Alastair Campbell and Gina Miller.

On behalf of his work as Head of Visual Content and Artistic Programming at KOKO, he has now programmed an exciting piece of new work as part of this year’s Frieze Art Fair. Visitors to Frieze London will have a chance to step inside the virtual-reality imagining of esteemed Swedish artist and mystic Hilma af Klint’s Temple, a vast spiralling gallery space the artist envisioned to showcase her work. We spoke to Julien to find out more. 


Ralph Barker:  Hi Julien, great to speak to you. First of all, I’d love to know more about the decision to translate the vision of Hilma af Klint into the medium of virtual reality. What type of experience can viewers expect? 

Julien Plante: The Hilma af Klint VR experience - The Temple, has been commissioned by Stolpe Publishing, Swedish publisher specialising in high quality non-fiction books on art, history and culture, and produced by Acute Art, world-leaders in art production in VR and AR. They have shown original works by today’s most compelling artists including Marina Abramovic, Jeff Koons, Anish Kapoor, Natalie Djurberg and more.

af Klint (1862 - 1944) is one of Sweden’s most prolific artists, known for her large-scale abstract botanical and occult paintings.  She is widely regarded as a major artistic innovator and visionary. Her 2019 exhibition ‘Paintings For The Future’ was the Guggenheim’s highest ever attended exhibition in the museum’s history.

A devotee of esoteric Christinanity and member of several spiritual and occult movements, af Klint dreamt of a spiral shaped building to house her most important works. Inspired by the teachings of legendary German mystic Christian Rosenkreuz, she wished it to be built on an island in Sweden but the idea never materialised, and the temple remained an imaginary creation – until now.

The VR experience gives the opportunity to discover Hilma af Klint’s body of work.  It is also an interpretation of her dream, for her work to be presented inside a “Temple”.


Ralph: Do you think that the fluidity and immersion of this medium adds to the freedom of af Klint’s work?

Julien: Definitely. It is fascinating to see that a century later, af Klint’s vision has been brought alive through the power of technology in the form of an immersive 360º VR experience. It will take visitors on a cosmic journey from the milky way, through enigmatic spirals in nature and into the artist’s most important paintings. 

Thanks to VR headsets, visitors will be taken on an immersive journey through Hilma af Klint's world of art and will be transported into an interpretation of the temple af Klint wanted to build for her paintings.


Ralph: Tell me about the spiral. To me, there’s certainly an element of ‘falling’ into the artwork present here. To what extent does this shape inform the spirituality and cosmic reflection present in af Klint’s work? 

Julien: You will have to come to see it by yourself but the spiral is the most effective way to appreciate Hilma af Klint’s body of work in a dynamic way, through the medium of Virtual Reality. You don’t have the sensation of falling and I doubt you will get any of the motion sickness that people can sometimes experience with those VR headsets. But you will have a 360º in movement and you are guided into a soft experience. Like her art, it’s a bit like a cosmic trip! 

Ralph: Why do you consider the work of af Klint to be so important to showcase in today’s society?

Julien: She has taken the art world by storm – many decades after her death. Today, she is one of the world’s most beloved artists. Born in Stockholm, Hilma af Klint studied at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts. She established herself as a respected artist, exhibiting figurative paintings. Originally a devout Christian she later became involved in spiritualism, and later followed a keen interest in the ideas of Rudolf Steiner’s Rosicrucian theosophy and anthroposophy. These modes of spiritual engagement were popular across Europe – especially in artistic and literary circles. In recent years, the interest in af Klint’s esoteric paintings has grown, and in 2018 a large survey at the Guggenheim Museum in New York became the best-attended exhibition in the history of the institution. 

What we are doing by presenting the Hilma af Klint VR experience as a world premiere during Frieze is exciting for culture: it’s a way to present all the important works of Hilma af Klint, many of which have never been exhibited. 


Ralph: There have been a number of exhibitions recently utilising VR to ‘step inside’ an artwork within the Metaverse. Do you think this is a trend that we’ll see more of?

Julien: Yes, for sure. I went to Venice VR several times during the Venice Film Festival. I believe that Digital Art, Art in VR and NFTs are here to stay, and they will get bigger and better.  It’s not a trend, it’s a revolution. I see this development as a very democratic way to enjoy and appreciate art. The possibilities are endless. We are not watching a painting on wall, or even a screen or a smartphone anymore. It goes beyond that, it’s an immersive experience. In Virtual Reality, the main word is Reality. 


Ralph: Can you tell us a little about some of the other art involvements we can expect to see coming up at KOKO? 

Julien: We have a lot in our programme for members, for example, we are hosting the likes of: the Frieze Music event with Self-Esteem in our theatre, Gagosian Gallery’s Frieze party; Timothy Taylor’s Sahara Lounge party, and the 1-54’s ten-year anniversary.  Additionally, revered British artist and sculptor Conrad Shawcross will also present a unique light installation in the venue’s famous dome cocktail bar.  

Art runs through the fabric of the new KOKO. The House Of KOKO members floors house a private art collection featuring the work of emerging, mid-career and established contemporary artists such as: Frank Auerbach, Sahara Longe, David Shrigley, France-Lise McGurn, Wilhelm Sasnal, James Barnor, Rachel Whitread, Yoko Ono, Matt Collishaw, Hannah Quinlan & Rosie Hastings and more.

You can enquire about becoming a member via The House of KOKO website:

Ralph: Lastly, I’ve seen reports of an exciting Crypto/Music collaboration between Luno and KOKO. Are you able to tell our readers a bit more about what they can expect from this?

Julien: The Luno is a beautifully designed new space within KOKO’s Grade II listed Victorian theatre which houses a state of the art, digital art gallery. The new space has its own entrance and hosts late night DJ shows, digital art exhibitions, and immersive events. Together with Luno we are creating informative talks and workshops for the public, focusing on decentralising technology, cryptocurrencies and how they are revolutionising the relationship between music, artists and fans. 

We host a regular monthly digital art exhibition for the public in The Luno, with NFT drops in partnership with ground-breaking digital art incubators, Daata. We have so far held exhibitions of work by Orfeo Tagiuri, award-winning artist Rachel MacLean, and audio-visual artist Damian Roach. Every time, unique merchandise featuring the artist’s work is also sold in KOKO’s new shop. The next exhibition on Nov 5th is by Mat Collishaw, a key figure in the important generation of British artists known as YBA’s (Young British Artists) who emerged from Goldsmiths’ College in the late 1980s. He participated in Freeze (1988) organised by Damien Hirst and since his first solo exhibition in 1990 has exhibited widely internationally.  On Saturday 5th November he will be releasing his latest NFT collection Heterosis at The Luno.

Beyond this, Luno have partnered with KOKO to create a new programme that supports new musicians, called Luno Eclipse. You can check out the exclusive content on KOKO’s YouTube channel.  


To find out more and book tickets for The Hilma af Klint VR experience - The Temple head to

Hilma af Klint’s Temple in Virtual Reality will premiere at KOKO in Camden on October 12 before showing at the Swedenborg House from October 14-16. An AR version will also be installed in Regent’s Park. After Frieze, it will travel to Paris, showing at the Swedish Cultural Institute on October 19-23 to coincide with the new art fair Paris+.

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