A woman is walking barefoot;her head covered with paper, her body with long fabrics, plastic feet stuck to her arms. Who is she?
She is Raphaëlle de Groot, a Montreal-based artist and guest studio arts professor at Concordia University. As part of the Artist’s Talk series, de Groot gave a public lecture last Wednesday in the VA building.
Eliza Griffiths, painter and assistant professor at Concordia, introduced de Groot’s practice as “interdisciplinary and polymorphous, maybe rooted in drawing. It includes performance, installation and curating projects.”
The talk started with a video of a performance done in the Venice Biennale earlier this year. It was a two-hour and forty-minute performance that took place in a public garden. As the artist explains: “I wrap my head in a piece of paper with tape which blinds me completely.”
All the actions executed after are guided only by her “hands and [her] sense of touch [to find] some points of reference that [she] memorized before.”
In all her works, de Groot takes risks, constantly reinventing herself. By displacing her body, she questions the role of the artist and their place in the creation of art.
In earlier works, de Groot operated using her experiences with groups of people that were outside of the realm of art. From there she drew inspiration, established connections and would invite them to contribute with their own creations, with their own signatures—whether it be through drawing, writing or photography.
“Her work always develops through projects or strategies involving her alone or with others within social groupings including: blinds, nuns, factory workers, putting herself in that environment,” Griffiths explained.
For example, between 1999 and 2001, de Groot started a project with blind people titled Colin-maillard. She drew them while they were drawing objects as they were touching them. She saw blind people as “experts of a different perception of the world that we can’t have, because we have our eyes.” There is always an interest for the space outside the vision and for the notion of construction of the self.
Her process first begins with the accumulation of a wealth of information and the collection of different objects. After which, de Groot becomes “a kind of curator of the body that the research has generated.”
She explained that in her work, “there is intuition at first and consciousness and awareness comes through process and often after.”
de Groot is interested in history, and in creating dialogue and conversations. There is always a “sensitivity to materials and aesthetics even when [she] is doing documentary work,” said Griffiths.
Artist’s Talk series is held by the department of studio arts periodically. For more information on their upcoming lectures, visit: studio-arts.concordia.ca . For more information about de Groot’s work visit: raphaelledegroot.net