The Body in Exercise

I produced my earliest performances before a video camera, during a residency at Cittadellarte-Fondazione Pistoletto (2002, Biella, Italy). I called these experimentations filmed exercises. In the first one, I wrapped my head in paper and attached a weighted brush to one of my fingers; from this uncomfortable position, I formulated a sort of creative test. I performed this action exactly as it is shown – that is, without seeing what I was doing, motivated solely by the need to put an intuitive question into practice: to exert myself concretely against constraints and wonder what this situation would be likely to produce. As I repeated the gesture – depriving myself of sight, divesting myself of my abilities, disappearing under the encumbrance and the mask that it created – a figure began to emerge.

I had already produced a number of projects in contact with different human realities: in a religious community (Dévoilements), with blind people (Colin-maillard), with women working in private homes (Beyond the Call of Duty) – and I was starting a new one with workers in a textile factory (8 x 5 x 363 + 1). Up to then, I had regarded my work as an exploration focusing on the world of the other. But my “foreign” presence as an artist aroused a mutual curiosity. “How can my job and my life be sources of inspiration for you?” they asked. I realized that the other was me – or, rather, through the figure that I represented, the other was art, as an undefined and unknown space, particularly in contexts in which the art project emerged from encounters and their reciprocity, and from what they could produce that was unexpected. So, what did art then become? And creation? What was their field?

Performance enabled me to articulate this reflection in a different way by materializing conditions of creation and the work that underlies it: leaving one’s self, shifting focus, groping, experiencing foreignness/otherness, listening, abandonment, solitude, risk, commitment, beginning again, openness.

 

 

The Wait — Experimenting Expectation

Performance ; installation ; video

 

Presented in the exhibition 

Flesh of the World at the Justine M. Barnicke Gallery

Curator: Amanda Cachia

2015

 

Toronto, Ontario

Sitting blindfolded, I waited for interaction with the exhibition visitors to begin. Materials were set out on tables; most had been picked up from the city’s sidewalks and streets, and I had brought others from my personal reserve with me. I affixed to my body things that were placed in my hand, and then asked participants to sign their names on a sheet of paper. I performed at the opening of the exhibition and for two five-hour periods during the gallery’s regular hours. The remains of the action were then exhibited as they were, with this video document.

 
 

 

Off

Performance ; installation ; video

 

Presented in the exhibition

The Art of the Lived Experiment

as part of DISART Festival at the

Urban Institute of Contemporary Arts

Curators: Aaron Williamson and

Amanda Cachia

 2015

Grand Rapids, MI, United States

I produced three performances using objects, props, and materials found on site in the storage spaces at the Urban Institute of Contemporary Arts, as well as a few elements brought with me (false limbs, netting). The action developed around challenges that were improvised and encountered in the moment. I assembled the gathered materials on my body and meandered around the exhibition space. This produced different situations of interaction with the site and the public. The props and remains of the actions were then exhibited as they were, with video documentation of the performances.

 

Video study ; scanned performance leftovers

 

Produced for Curated Space, Arts & Disability Ireland as part of the online exhibition Marking Blind

Curator: Amanda Cachia

 2015

 

Study 5.

A New Place

 

 

En exercice

à Venise

Performance 

 

Presented during the opening days of the 55th Venice Biennale by the Galerie de l’UQAM and the Conseil des arts et des lettres du Québec in collaboration with the Délégation du Québec à Rome.

 

Curator: Louise Déry

May, 30, 2013

Venice, Italie

 

“This exceptional opportunity  underlines the artist’s presence in a different fashion, in a complex and stunning context where visibility – to see and be seen – imposes a test and new challenges. This relation to visibility, or rather how it works and transforms the artist’s figure, is the main preoccupation here.”

“It will be the first time that I will engage in such a long performance and that I will do it outside, in a context where there are many unknowns. The performance will develop in three phases of an hour each.  I don’t know how people will react and if they will try to interact with me, and I don’t know how disoriented I will be in my movements.”

—Raphaëlle de Groot, press releases, February 13 and May 21 2013, Galerie de l’UQAM.

 
 

Performance ; drawing ; installation

Produced as part of the exhibition Making Real|Rendre réel in the context of the festival Scène Québec

.

Curator: Marie Frase

April 19 to May 5 2007

Ottawa, Ontario

From behind the counter of an old bank, I invited visitors to join me in making portraits based on ID descriptions. The visitor selected a file that provided the vital statistics of one of the bank’s former clients: name, age, size, weight, hair and eye colour, occupation — all real information found among the papers abandoned on the site. I then created the portraits following both these descriptions and the directions given by my partner-spectator, who also chose the appropriate pencils and markers and a wig from the collection of “ready-to-wear” hairpieces constructed for the occasion. Visitors then each took two Polaroid shots, keeping one for themselves while I used the other in the exhibition.

 

Portraits de

clients

 
 

 

Il volto

interiore

Performance ; drawing ; installation

Z2O Galleria – Sara Zanin

November 6 to December 29 2007

Rome, Italy

Gallery visitors were invited to take an appointment with me to do the portrait of a person of their choice. They described the features of the face they had in mind and, according to their indications, I drew the portrait “blindly” on a sheet of paper that covered my face as a mask. Visitors then each took two Polaroid shots, keeping one for themselves while I used the other in the exhibition.

 

En exercice

Performance ; installation ; video

Galerie de l’UQAM

Curator: Louise Déry

 

February 24 to April 1 2006

Montreal, Quebec

In the middle of the gallery, I set up a space for experimentation and study: a wooden stage, and above it, a system of ropes, pulleys, and counterweights that held and suspended a human body. Tables, tools, and various materials and accessories were scattered about like prosthetic contraptions that I put together to limit and condition my movements. During the exhibition, I came over regularly to try out different actions in the installation, often working blind in the presence of spectators, or during workshop sessions with groups of students. It was essential that visitors witness my actions during these sessions to allow me to progress and explore new possibilities. To this effect, a video camera was made available to those who wished to participate in my work and leave a trace of their observations.

 

The schedule included 22 performances, each lasting from 1h15 min. to 2h. Of these 22 performances, a dozen involved the participation of groups of students of different levels and fields of study.

 

Installation: plywood platform, system of ropes, pulleys and counterweight, swing, exercise mat and balloon, tables, work tools and accessories, various materials, video camera, 2 projectors and dvd players.

 

Projections showed images filmed by visitors during the performances and short video segments taken with a wireless camera attached to my body during certain actions.

 

Guided Tours,

Life Class,

and Open Rehearsal

Actions 

Presented by Artist House center as part of the event Negotiating Us, Here and Now at  the Leeds City Art Gallery

Curators: Byan Davies

and Nigel Walsh

2005

Leeds, United Kingdom

Visitors of the Leeds City Art Gallery were called upon to negotiate a variety of situations caused by my unusual presence in the museum while I was wrapping my head in various materials that blinded my sight: Guided Tours, during which I wandered in the museum with a collaborator who described me the environment and the works, a drawing session (Life Class) and a public rehearsal (Open Rehearsal).

 

 

Drawing Session

Performance ; drawing ; video ; installation

Produced as part of a residency at the University of Western Ontario organized for the exhibition Just my Imagination at the John Labatt Visual Arts Centre and the Museum London

Curator: MMB Collective

2004

London, Ontario

I proposed a life drawing session to students enrolled at the University of Western Ontario. Set up on a podium, I wrapped my head in various materials and, blind under the layers, created a succession of figures, the one transforming into the other. Students’ sketches and a video camera documented the action. Both the sketches and the recording were then shown in the installation.