romain dumesnil romain dumesnil

Texts

The Animal That Therefore I Am

How do we see ourselves and other beings in this world? The propositions of Romain
Dumesnil construct, inhabit and conceive the artistic practices and the exhibition space as a
living operative, a working site. Here, the artist is an operator of passages through the boundaries
of domestication.

In the maneuvers of transposition from the ‘outer’ – the locus of living objects - towards the
‘inner’ – the confined space of the gallery – supposed opposites are confronted. By questioning
the modernist dichotomies - nature / culture; animality / humanity - the perspective is directed
towards a hybrid unity, configured through the diversity of all things that are interconnected.
There, viewpoints are inverted.

In the encounter with the naked passivity of the animal or with active chemical processes
in the exhibit, we are observed, while we observe. When we view the other’s view, it is in turn,
aimed at us. We are all alive and seen; a naked animal facing another animal, a dressed man
(enveloped in clothes). With the nakedness of the non-human, we are the ones who are exposed
in the exhibit. It is possible to feel a sort of animal-being in being with the animal.

Would that which afflicts us be some sort of shame against the indecency of the things
we domesticate, while also being domesticated ourselves? Who, then, is the animal?

The white cube of the gallery forces the institution into another dichotomy ‘outer / inner’:
it isolates, limits, restricts, detains, with its enclosure of walls, ceiling, floor, all which confine, here,
animals. White cube, cage. The operations proposed by Romain Dumesnil, of transposing from
one supposedly ‘outer’ to another supposedly ‘inner’ triggers the processes of domestication, of
the other and of itself, between subjection and submission – of the artistic practices included.

Derrida (1997) evokes limitrophy, to designate not only that which is born and grows at the
limit, around the limit, by maintaining the limit, but also what feeds the limit, generates it, raises it,
and complicates it. But what if, instead of asking whether or not there is a discontinuous limit, we
could shift our focus to that which becomes a limit when the boundary no longer forms a single
indivisible line. This laboratory exhibit is an artistic exercise in this direction.

On this earth, under this sky - where the gallery lies - we are contaminated; in pluralities
that do not allow themselves to be united into a single figure of animality as opposed to humanity,
of that which is natural as opposed to artificial, of domestication as opposed to that which is wild.
A hybrid emerges, also, through the power of art, which expands the boundaries that grow and
multiply by feeding on the limits. These limits, unknown, are not where things end, but rather
where other things begin; for a future, hybrid and plural. To follow.

by Michelle Sommer
(Originally written in portuguese under the title 'O animal que logo sou')
* The title of the exhibition is a poetic allusion to Jacques Derrida’s text ‘L’animal que donc je suis (suivre)’, 1997. See: DERRIDA, Jacques. The Animal That Therefore I Am (More To Follow). São Paulo: UNESP Publishing House, 2002. 


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«J’imagine une quête ambitieuse qui, loin de se contenter d’objets de rencontre, s’efforcerait de réunir les plus remarquables manifestations des forces élémentaires, anonymes, irresponsables qui, enchevêtrées, composent la nature.» Artiste et chercheur, Romain Dumesnil semble avoir fait sienne cette phrase de Roger Caillois (Roger Caillois, Pierres, 1966). Vivant et travaillant entre la France et le Brésil où il a fondé l’espace de résidence et d’exposition Átomos en 2015, il puise son inspiration autant dans les phénomènes naturels que dans la recherche scientifique, dans les outils anthropologiques que dans les croyances chamaniques pour questionner notre rapport au monde et à l’environnement.

Convoquant dans ses sculptures et installations les plus primaires des éléments (argile crue, minéraux, sève de pin, pierres, paille tressée, lumière) parfois mêlés à des dispositifs technologiques, l’artiste fait émerger le potentiel plastique intrinsèque de la matière. Il laisse les différents éléments agir par eux-mêmes, révélant cette sorte de « talent naturel » des choses comme dans sa série Labyrinthe (2016-2017) où il redessine avec l’argile crue des motifs labyrinthiques générés par un algorithme. En séchant, l’argile crée des traces aléatoires à l’intérieur du parcours contraint par le dessin initial généré par l’ordinateur.

Les notions d’interconnexion et d’hybridation sont fondamentales dans la démarche de Romain Dumesnil. Pour son projet O animal que logo sou (2017), il conçoit un écosystème autour du cycle du carbone, élément de base de toutes les formes de vie connues. Le lieu d’exposition, la galerie Zipper à São Paulo, se transforme ainsi en un espace vivant dans lequel co-évoluent différentes composantes et organismes, sous le regard attentif et curieux des visiteurs qui participent avec leur présence aux mutations de l’œuvre-biotype.

Cette notion d’interdépendance est poussée à l’extrême dans Lapso, œuvre présentée pour le prix SciencesPo pour l’art contemporain, composée par deux pierres volcaniques suspendues dans l’espace. Maintenues en lévitation à quelques millimètres l’une de l’autre, ces roches se soutiennent réciproquement grâce à leur force d’attraction magnétique naturelle que l’artiste utilise et amplifie pour créer une installation discrètement subversive, minimale et énigmatique, qui joue avec la perception du spectateur. C’est comme si ces deux rochers avaient un pouvoir mystique et une action sculpturale propre sur la perception de l’espace qui les entoure, capable d’inverser les références spatiales traditionnelles. La force électromagnétique qui lie ces deux éléments agit entre chaque paire d’objets dans l’univers. Cette œuvre nous plonges ainsi dans une dimension atemporelle, à la lisière entre réalité et fiction, visible et invisible, croyance et science et nous indique qu’une indifférence absolue est physiquement impossible.


Par Martina Sabbadini

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The burial of a surface is a pictorial resource, and as the rough material covers it, it is in turn altered
in its appearance, taking the shape of the prior surface.
By doing so, Romain Dumesnil creates a piece of precise cuts and fixes it to the wall vertically.
Testing the usual functioning of a painting, he presents it as an expanded decorative element, but
which was desertified by a gross crust of dry and crackled earth.
The artist lets us see his resources, leaving some parts uncovered, as if here and there we could
understand how the structures establish themselves, the layers of fibers, of clay. Also, it seems
there is a risk of them breaking into pieces, the dry material, cracks, a shape repeats itself in an
altered colour at each repetition and thus subtly indicates the passage of time.

By Danillo Villa
(Extract from 'É tudo bicho', 2017, original version in portuguese)

O soterramento de uma superfície é um recurso pictórico, e enquanto a matéria grosseira a cobre
também é alterada em sua aparência, tomando a forma prévia da superfície.

Romain Dumesnil cria assim uma peça de cortes precisos e a prende à parede verticalmente.
Testando o funcionamento habitual de uma tela de pintura, ele a apresenta como um elemento
decorativo ampliado, mas que foi desertificado por uma grossa crosta de terra argilosa seca e
craquelada.

O artista nos deixa conhecer seus recursos, deixando partes descobertas, como se aqui e ali
pudéssemos entender como as estruturas se estabelecem, as camadas de fibras, de terra argilosa.
Também parece haver risco de se desfazerem, a matéria seca, craquela, uma forma se repete com
cor alterada a cada repetição e assim sutilmente indica a passagem do tempo.

By Danillo Villa


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