I was born in 1989
I live and works in Lyon (FR)
Post-Performance Future Research Program, Ensba Lyon (FR)
Fine Arts School (‘École nationale supérieure des beaux-arts’), Lyon (FR)
MFA (‘DNSEP’) – with high honors, 2016
BFA (‘DNAP’) – with high honors, 2014
Concordia University, Fine Arts, Montréal (CA)
Mathematics studies (FR)
Comme si tu ne faisais que passer, École d'Arts du Choletais, Cholet (FR)
D'autres états me font rêver, La BF15, Lyon (FR)
Songes d'artistes, bild, Digne-les-Bains (FR)
Drawing restrict, rosastern.space, Munich (DE)
Welcome into a land of needs and desires, La Vague de Saint-Paul, Saint-Paul-de-Vence (FR)
Like a desert mystery, Saison Video, online
Oblique strategies, galerie Martine Aboucaya, Paris (FR)
Artagon live, Cité internationale des arts − Site de Montmartre, Paris (FR)
Biennale Pact(e), Le Carreau du Temple, Paris (FR)
La percée des images, DomaineM, Cérilly (FR)
Dunkerque screening, UCA Project Space Brewery Tap, Folkestone (GB)
Lost in nature's library, galerie Odile Ouizeman, Paris (FR)
Strangelove Festival, La Plate-Forme, Dunkerque (FR)
Festival Extra ! MNAM – Centre Pompidou, Paris (FR)
The Map is the territory, Bregenz Biennale 2018, Bregenz (AT)
Talk Show Festival, La Panacée - MoCo, Montpellier
Jeune Création, galerie Mansart, Paris (FR)
220 km/s, Maison du livre, de l'image et du son, Villeurbanne (FR)
Imaginary Display(s), BNKR, Munich (DE)
Les Faits du hasard, biennale internationnale des arts numériques, Le Centquatre, Paris (FR)
7ème Prix de la Jeune Création de Saint-Rémy, Moulin des Arts, Saint-Rémy (FR)
Invitation without exhibition, galerie Martine Aboucaya, Paris (FR)
Ubique, les vacances immobiles, Glassbox, Paris (FR)
Double Trouble, Maison du livre, de l'image et du son, Villeurbanne (FR)
62ème Salon de Montrouge, Le Beffroi, Montrouge (FR)
Horizon (2016), MAGASIN – CNAC, Grenoble (FR)
I Am Not Tino Sehgal, galerie Nahmad Projects, London (GB)
Artagon II, Passage de Retz, Paris (FR)
Festival of Minimal Action, Paris (FR)
No Reading, No Cry ! Open Graphic Art Studio – Museum of the city of Skopje (MK)
Enjoy queer & poésie, online
Soirée performances, 65ème Salon de Montrouge, Le Beffroi, Montrouge (FR)
Soirée performances, Maison du livre, de l'image et du son, Villeurbanne (FR)
Panoramic, Tourisme Imaginaire, Anglès (FR)
Glassbox 20 ans, Fondation d’entreprise Ricard, Paris (FR)
Cbaret' What Not/Speak Easy, LAXART, Los Angeles (US)
Imaginary Display(s), halfway, Vienna (AT)
Les jours de pleine lune #19, La Tôlerie, Clermont-Ferrand (FR)
L'invitation aux musées, Centre national de la danse, Pantin (FR)
Parades for FIAC, Grand Palais, Paris (FR)
Ces discrets habitants, L'attrape-couleurs, Lyon (FR)
La radio *DUUU bout de la nuit, Printemps de septembre, IsdaT, Toulouse (FR)
L'artiste et le commissaire, Institut National d'Histoire de l'Art, Paris (FR)
Résurgence du solo show de Claire Morgan, Fondation Francès, Senlis (FR)
Playground Festival, Musée M, Leuven (BE)
Partitions (Performances) / Jeune Création, galerie Thaddaeus Ropac, Pantin (FR)
Festival Oodaaq, La Grande Passerelle, Saint-Malo (FR)
Initiales/La Revue, Fondation d’entreprise Ricard, Paris (FR)
Public Pool #3, FRAC Nord-Pas de Calais, Dunkerque (FR)
Salon Discret, MNAM – Centre Pompidou, Paris (FR)
Playground Festival, Musée M, Louvain (BE)
Do Disturb, Palais de Tokyo, Paris (FR)
Hacking festival, Le Lavoir Public, Lyon (FR)
Grants & Prizes
Ekphrasis Grant, ADAGP
Aide à la production, Fondation des Artistes
Françoise International Competition, Françoise pour l’œuvre contemporaine en société Association
Grant for Studio Installation, DRAC Occitanie – French Ministry of Culture
Moly-Sabata Prize, Salon de Montrouge
Partenaires Prize, Ensba Lyon
Création en cours, program by the Ateliers Médicis, Cazedarnes (FR)
L'attrape-couleurs, Lyon (FR)
Moly-Sabata, Sablons (FR)
Portes closes et œuvres invisibles, Denys Riout, Paris, Gallimard
Multiprise Magazine, n°33, Toulouse, TA Editions
62ème Salon de Montrouge (exhib. cat.), Montrouge, Ville de Montrouge
I Am Not Tino Sehgal (exhib. cat.), London, Nahmad Projects
Maison du livre, de l'image et du son, Villeurbanne
Fonds de dotation Marc Fassiaty pour l’Art Video
Association Françoise pour l'œuvre contemporaine
Frac Paca, fonds Livres, éditions et multiples d'artistes
Workshop Le monde est à toi et moi, Classe prépa, École d'Arts du Choletais, Cholet (FR)
Workshop De l'incroyable de la périphérie, with Axelle Pinot, Classe prépa, Ensba Lyon (FR)
Workshop Outside [Now], Les Brasseurs art contemporain, Liège (BE)
Workshop Trouver son chemin, Lycée Notre-Dame, Grenoble (FR)
January 14 - February 25, 2022: group show, Songes d'artistes, bild, Digne-les-Bains (FR)
January 17 - May 13, 2022: residency at Les Sources school as part of the Création en cours program by the Ateliers Médicis, Cazedarnes (FR)
Spring 2022: solo show, Skol, Montreal (CA)
Mojave desert, 2019
After science studies, Romain Gandolphe discovered art history in a fine arts school, through the narratives of others. Let us wager that this path left on mark on his artistic practice. Beginning with performances (hiding away inside a wall during a week, asking exhibition watchmen to keep certain of his works invisible, and going to California to look for the exact place of a historic performance of the 1960s), the artist began to recount actions and gradually perform his own narrative. Almost naturally, oral delivery thus became the main form of his work, taking the shape of narrated exhibitions, and narratives of forgotten works. Since then, have his words been the transmitter of an inaccessible experience, or rather has the experience itself merely been the pretext for a narrative? With Romain Gandolphe, nothing is really clear. Somewhere between a guided tour, a theater piece, a lecture, and a meta-performance, his art-loving narratives are like substitutes replacing their model, as one might describe a discourse that has become autonomous from its subject. For the 2017 Salon de Montrouge, true to his speculative and gambling nature, the artist proposes an early visit of the Salon, before the installation of the works. A narrative of anticipation in front of empty walls, with listeners only capable of verifying or invalidating its relevance later on. In so doing, Romain Gandolphe’s work is also a critical reflection about performance art, inherently paradoxical because based on an implacable “hic et nunc” (here and now) ,which de facto excludes most viewers. An art which, at the end of the day, exists solely through a clue, a trace and a narrative, and turns artists into storytellers… not to say hucksters. Is this what has happened? Not even sure. He thereby refers performance back to its problematic event-like essence “in the present,” and thus by nature elusive because always irrevocably missed. Barely sketched out, and already gone. A hollow practice—a default practice—which, through its multiple absences, would make desires and fantasies explode.
Guillaume Désanges, 62nd Salon de Montrouge catalog, 2017
Departing regularly on an expedition in the Mojave Desert, in California, Romain Gandolphe had taken it into his head to find the exact location of a conceptual performance by Robert Barry in 1969: gases released into the atmosphere, invisible to the naked eye. It was a perfect nod to his own practice of guided tours or lectures around invisible works, activated by the sheer power of storytelling and imagination. But when he sets out on an arctic journey, in the footsteps of an artistic expedition narrated by art historian Lucy R. Lippard in 1970, suddenly something strikes. What if, despite its formal and rational reputation, conceptual art was only a pretext for obsessive adventures, touching on romanticism? The other awakening, triggered in the artist as much by a major book of our time (King Kong Théorie by Virginie Despentes) as by the questioning of the structures of domination led by Béatrice Josse at the Magasin in Grenoble, would produce a upheaval. Do conceptual artists have a body? If their works are autonomous, and artists have no body, why are they almost all men? "Now I'm more interested in what is made invisible by the history of art, rather than in the invisible works. We only see what we decide to "see", he says. The debates initiated by the avant-garde of the 1960s have blind spots, whether it is about their relationship to affects, to the body, to gender. With the queer Lyon collective Les Enfants de Diane, Romain Gandolphe is now exploring new possibilities, like the title of one of his latest works: "Alors je redeviens plusieurs" ("So I become several again").
Pedro Morais, Le Quotidien de l'Art, 7 mai 2020
"L’atelier, c’est la parole : il est là, entre nous, et voilà, je le tiens, je ne le laisse pas s’échapper"
I depart somewhat from the implicit rule in this series.
Romain Gandolphe has never invited me to visit his studio, and for good reason: he doesn't have one. In fact, the first time I met him, he snuggled up in my arms. I would like this story to be false, to be accused of having invented it out of nothing, but it is rigorously correct. I had just disclosed my identity to him, and he happened to be one of the few people to have read one of my first articles ever published, on a great Icelandic artist but very little known, in a Canadian magazine moreover. I naively imagined that no one had read this article, which I was quite happy with. Still - flattered? intrigued? - all this was enough to make me want to see him again, and offer him an interview around this absence of studio.
After several meetings at the café, we agreed that the following words would be collected where Romain Gandolphe finds material for his works: in the midst of those of others. We took our places, as in the tearoom, on an uncomfortable bench in one of the rooms of the permanent collection on the 4th floor of the Center Pompidou, facing a canvas by Geta Brătescu and a video by Ion Grigorescu. Behind him I saw only white, the room looked empty, while it was the reverse side of Dream Passage with Four Corridors (1984) by Bruce Nauman.
We couldn't have imagined a more perfect cocoon.
Read the rest on thankyouforcoming.net
Camille Paulhan, thankyouforcoming.net, 2019
From Aporia to Love via Imaginaries
‘It’s a connection I’m making with imaginary numbers. In the sixteenth century, in order to resolve third-degree equations, Gerolamo Cardano invented the principle of numbers that, when multiplied by themselves, become negative. I’m not sure if you know this? But it’s impossible.’ While walking towards the peak of the Puy de la Vache, despite being inexhaustible, Romain Gandolphe eventually lost his breath. He nevertheless answered my question, all in one go, regarding the influence of his early scientific studies on his artistic work. I believe I effectively perceive a kind of quantum logic in it: when he decides to spend seven days hidden in an exhibition wall without revealing his presence (Une semaine dans une cimaise, 2013), is he, like Schrödinger’s cat, alive or dead? Are the secrets that he exchanges still secret when they are revealed (Every Secret Has A Holder, 2016)? Is it even possible to set out in search of the last tree planted by Joseph Beuys (A Kind of Tree, 2018)? In an equation of the third kind, the real number is calculated based on a chimera: the imagination enables a concrete problem to be solved. This special relationship to aporias has been maintained by the artist since his earliest work.
If a single cat can be dead and alive simultaneously, can a single artwork enjoy several states? During his DNSEP,(1) the artist decided to host the jury within a series of empty white cubes in which he related the works already completed, as well as those to come. Each room represented a precise temporality that merged as his discourse developed; the present has passed even before we can apprehend it, the past can be reactualized in speech, and the future escapes us (Du futur au passé, 2016). In the following years, Gandolphe did not choose between those who report their experiences and those who formulate what they’ve read or heard. Whereas he previously favoured the former position, he quickly detached himself from any systematism to demonstrate the extent to which artworks are primarily constructed through encounters and exchanges. So he described, facing the camera, the works destined for the walls of a collective exhibition even before it was mounted (À venir, 2017) or all the past performances of a festival, according to his memory (À celles que tu ne verras jamais, 2018). These stories offer an imperfect narration, brimming with errors, creating an obsolete and fragmentary temporary palimpsest. The spectators become receptors and, according to a very Duchampian logic, become storytellers in turn. They leave their mark on the story – like potters mark the clay vase with their hand.(2) ‘After the public has heard my story, they bear the artwork in themselves and can in turn tell it again, to the point of oblivion.’(3) Memory is as much the touchstone of his work as a tool for constituting it: none of his performances are learned by heart. L’exposition dans ma tête (2014) took a month to install, the time it took for the artist to establish the markers necessary for improvisation. Like Robert Filliou walking around with artwork-headgear, Gandolphe transports his exhibition with him. This occurs for as long as he remembers it. Forgetting thus also becomes a material: on the wall of La BF15, the artist reproduced a mural by Sol LeWitt based on his memory of it (Ce qui m’échappe, 2017). ‘Once the idea of the piece is established in the artist’s mind and the final form is decided, the process is carried out blindly. There are many side effects that the artist cannot imagine,’(4) declared LeWitt in 1969. Had he anticipated alterations from memory? In the same exhibition, Romain lays out his office within the space and becomes the scribe of the artworks that are related to him. He reconstitutes a totally subjective history of art in which the artist becomes a listener (D’autres voix que la mienne, 2017).(5) Alternative modes of existence are offered to the artworks whose properties and behaviours are thus modified. ‘What if . . . it was no longer us that talked about an artwork but the artwork itself that did the talking?’ ask the authors of des récits ordinaires.(6) Is the artist spurred into action by the artworks themselves? Certainly. They make him paint, dance, speak, and listen to the viewers.
‘Contemporary is he who, in the dark night, perceives the light of the stars retreating faster than the speed of light,’ cites Gandolphe from memory as we arrive at the summit of the Puy. According to Giorgio Agamben, what is contemporary is by nature inaccessible. ‘He who truly belongs to his time . . . is the one who does not coincide perfectly with it, nor is suited to its pretensions.’(7) The temporal dissociation of the artist’s work, his stories and reproductions of past works, do not form a mere repetition; they enable invention, opening up new temporalities with a view to grasping the present. In search of the place where Robert Barry liberated particles of gas (À la recherche, 2017, Toujours à la recherche, 2019), Romain spent more than a month in the Mojave Desert, spread over four years. Past experience becomes a potential future event, based on which history can be rewritten. Today ‘[he is] more interested in what the history of art has rendered invisible, rather than invisible artworks’.(8) So he set off on the trail of a project that he only knows through the text written by Lucy Lippard in 1970, in which she relates an artistic experience near the polar circle, in Inuvik – ‘a deplorable new city belonging to the government and the oil industry,’(9) where the natives of the region have been forced to settle. Gandolphe is gradually undertaking a more emotional and collective transition. With the group Les enfants de Diane, it is no longer in a white shirt that he relates forthcoming artworks, but in a flesh-coloured body suit and high heels [À venir (drag queen), 2019]. Displeased about being the heir of a patriarchal history, he lip synch’s the feminist song by Guerilla Poubelle, his favourite punk band since he was a teenager: ‘Nous sommes les fils et les filles des sorcières que vous n’avez pas brulées’ (We’re the sons and daughters of the witches you weren’t able to burn). Seeking to break out of the solitude of this 2020 year and ‘recover the collective’,(10) love becomes the impetus behind his reappropriation of Untitled (Go-Go Dancing Platform) (1991) by Félix Gonzáles Torres. Like Jean Cocteau’s Orpheus, he goes through the looking-glass and also dances in spangled shorts, but without a pedestal, projecting his shadow onto the video images of activations of the artwork [Untitled (To the man in the mirror), 2019]. The revelation of the body and emotions invites silence – as though keeping quiet was the most eloquent of speeches.
(1) Diplôme national supérieur d’art plastique.
(2) See the metaphor by Walter Benjamin, ‘Le Raconteur’ (1936), trans. M. Renouard, in Nikolaï Leskov, Le voyageur enchanté, trans. V. Derély, (Paris: Payot & Rivages, 2011), 12.
(3) Romain Gandolphe, interview with Sarah Fouassier, ‘Ne jouer rien d’autre que moi-même’, Le Petit Bulletin n° 899, 22–28 November 2017.
(4) Sol LeWitt, excerpt from ‘Sentences on conceptual art’, Art-language, vol 1 no. 1, May 1969, cited by Ghislain Mollet-Viéville, [http://www.conceptual-art.net/sl.html], page consulted on 17 October 2020.
(5) Which recalls the brilliant Inadequate History of Conceptual Art (1999) by Silvia Kolbowski.
(6) Gregory Castera, Yaël Kreplak, Franck Leibovici, des récits ordinaires (Dijon: Les Presses du réel, 2014).
(7) Giorgio Agamben, “What is an Apparatus?” and Other Essays (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2009). DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/9781503600041-004
(8) Romain Gandolphe interviewed by Pedro Morais, ‘Redevenir plusieurs’, Le Quotidien de l’art no. 1944, 7 May 2020.
(9) Lucy Lippard, ‘Art Within the Artic Circle’, The Hudson Review, winter 1970, vol. XXII, no. 4, 666.
(10) As the title of the performance indicates, in which he outlines the limits of his body.
Sophie Lapalu, Le Quotidien de l'Art, 2021
Translation: Anna Knight
I wrote the code of this website for the actual version in April 2020. The only font in use is Ortica (Light and Bold
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