Article: Rero X Stéphane Parain: cross-interview
Rero X Stéphane Parain: cross-interview
On the occasion of the release of the bust "Error 404" by Stéphane Parain and Rero, published by Fluctuart, we offer you an interview with the two artists who provide here some keys to presenting this work at the crossroads of worlds.
What is your relationship to writing and more precisely to words, an essential component of your works?
Rero (R): It's my way of digesting the world and interacting with it. My interventions using words allow me to question the ills of our society in different contexts and to take part in public debate.
Have you ever wanted to use other alphabets (Chinese, Russian, Arabic, etc.) in your works?
A: I really like Sanskrit since my last intervention in India in Mumbai in which the letters are connected (or crossed out) together also at 2/3 and more recently the Arecibo code to communicate with extraterrestrials which I find very aesthetic and oddly super poetic too...
Do we consider an installation in a gallery, a canvas or a 3-dimensional sculpture in the same way?
A: I like to take the image of the Klein bottle... It symbolizes for me this connection between the inner and outer environment and can help us to see more clearly on this question. It is impossible to differentiate the inside from the outside in this geometric shape and I think that it somewhat symbolizes the work of every artist, whereas we would like to lock ourselves into a single practice of interior or exterior. However, I think that we must do both without repression, but paying close attention to adapting our practice to each context, which is why I extend my research initiated outdoors on indoor supports and vice versa, as for example on a butterfly which symbolizes the Imago, transformation, but also on burnt wood, books under resin, sculptures or even canvases.
Do you see yourself more as a visual artist or as an author?
A: I would say that in a capitalist society, the fact of being an artist or at least considered as such by society, allows me to remain connected to my humanity and therefore to remain a social and pragmatic animal.
You recently carried out a communication campaign for the (formidable) city of Rouen for its candidacy to become capital of culture. Was this an opportunity that presented itself and was taken or does this city have a particular value in your eyes?
A: Following an exhibition at Hangar 107 in 2018, I was invited to collaborate with RNI to support Rouen's candidacy as European Capital of Culture in 2028... Unfortunately, this was not the decision of the jury, but I think that with climate change and Paris becoming more concentrated and the dynamism of Rouen, a migration to Normandy seems to me to be a very good idea, but be careful, you shouldn't share it too much either if you don't want to all meet there in a few years. I go there regularly to set up projects in collaboration with Hangar 107, which I particularly like, and I even considered opening a workshop there soon, but life has decided otherwise, for the moment at least...
Your original bust error 404 was gigantic, this statuette is 28 cm high, does the scale ratio change the perception of the work and its message?
A: It allows everyone to keep a piece or a trace of our interventions in public space and to appropriate a small piece of the adventure without compromising on the quality of the execution and the finishes! Collectors are often even surprised by the weight of this miniature and the finishes. It’s great fun!
Let's start with a question that's probably a bit stupid, but how do you become a sculptor?
Stéphane Parain (SP): There are as many learning paths for sculpture as there are materials to sculpt. Sculpture is a fascinating discipline in this regard, the variations of the profession seem endless. For my part, I started by sculpting clay with artists, then stone with meeting fellow sculptors, I continue to be curious and explore other techniques, other materials, I have the feeling that one has never finished becoming a sculptor.
Your work relies a lot on textures, where does this fascination come from?
SP: My inspiration comes a lot from the sensory, I am fascinated and amazed by the complexity of shapes, colors and textures found in nature. Each shape, each texture expresses something, it is for me like a large parchment to decipher. And I try to use this language in my work.
In several of your works there is a desire for “trompe l'oeil”, I am thinking for example of the plaster pillow in your APOPHENIE exhibition. Do you consider your art playful?
SP: I see a work of art as the possibility of an inner discussion. To be able to start this conversation, I find it important that art is playful and can provoke questions.
You must choose a material to work on, which one?
SP: I would choose clay, I love its texture, its smell and all the artistic applications it offers. I also like the fact that it is a very common, discreet material, but which has such stability over time that it allows us to go back to the beginnings of art history.
Is it easier to sculpt abstraction or concrete?
SP: I am obliged to go through the concrete, sculpting what I see allows me to get closer to it and anchor an abstraction there.
In the “UPDATE” project, you take up the codes of classical sculpture, did this require a particular effort from you to stick to the manufacturing methods of an era?
SP: In the UPDATE project, we had to apply modern manufacturing methods to produce the busts on this monumental scale. The challenge was above all, to respect the “fact” of an ancient sculpture, while respecting the codes of classical sculpture, to maintain a requirement from start to finish, until the final texture which reproduces the stone.
Can you tell us about your meeting?
SP: Our first meeting was in Buttes-Chaumont at the beginning of summer through mutual friends, we quickly began a discussion on art, which ultimately lasted a few years.
R: We met through friends/family before imagining a collaboration. It's often stronger when projects are born this way. And it immediately stuck, firstly on a human level and then on an artistic level. Now, we preserve this beautiful balance and Stéphane is above all a friend for me before being a collaborator.
Where did this desire to collaborate come from?
SP: The desire and the idea came without much warning, during the discussion. A first bust was conceptualized very quickly and in 30 minutes, we had done the first tests and then an object that seemed sexy to us was there.
R: In 2012, we were in his apartment in the 18th arrondissement and we wanted to bring together and/or short-circuit the classic codes of sculpture which belonged more to Stéphane's universe, to computer and contemporary codes that we find in my “textual” interventions.
We were able to present our first 3 versions during my EIDOLON exhibition at the BACKSLASH gallery in May 2012 and which immediately met with great success and then made us want to develop the project by making new variants.
As part of your collaboration, there is a desire to bring together tradition and modernity, how do we conceptualize such a project?
R: We did some experiments, but we quickly agreed on the final result that we can still appreciate 12 years later. The change of scale was also experimented in 2018 during the beautify Paris project with the base and support of Djeff, Paris City Hall and FLUCTUART and we were able to reactivate it more recently under the leadership of Nicolas Couturieux and the help from Gilles Treuil around the Madeleine and Faubourg Saint-Honoré in the heart of Paris last October, going from a first LOADING sculpture to 4 new ones; namely LOW RESOLUTION, SHIFT, ERROR 404 and LOCKED. I invite you to see the video by Jules Hidrot which allowed us to preserve a magnificent trace of the project!!
When Fluctuart offered to produce your works in miniature and limited versions, how did you receive the proposal?
SP: The idea of being able to offer a more affordable version to the public appealed to us.
R: We loved the idea even if technically, we had to wait a few years to find the right process and the right production line so as not to compromise on quality while being able to offer a relatively accessible and democratic price, and this , thanks to Artoyz.
Error 404 by fluctuart is a carbon copy of the original or were there adjustments due to size, change of material etc?
SP: We wanted a carbon copy of the plaster original, to the point of reproducing the “accidents” or “manufacturing defects”. In order to offer an object as close as possible to the original.
R: True copy!! Just a change of scale!! It was important for us to keep the little imperfections and glitches that existed on the first version. It makes the piece even more unique and delicate for us when we have it in front of us and even more so in our hands. This is the advantage of the change of scale which also allows a “carnal” relationship with the work by taking it in the hands. Something you can't do in the museum or even in the street...
From your joint work “UPDATE”, there were 4 busts. Was this always planned like this or were there choices to be made regarding what you wanted/could do?
SP: We selected the busts that we thought were the most relevant for this event, with considerations in terms of symbolism in relation to the history of the proposed places, composition in relation to the architecture and also in terms of technical achievement.
R: Let's say that like any project in the public space, there are always unforeseen events and hazards that must be faced and that was the case this time too!! We had initially planned 5 busts with Niclas Couturieux with 5 locations offered by the Town Hall but our planning was a little disrupted by the rugby fan zone which whistled at us for a location at Place de la Concorde, which forced us to present only one 4 out of 5 and therefore to make a choice, it is therefore the LOCKED which remained in the workshop but you can always go visit it in Evreux at the Joséphine gardens and I hope that we will be able to represent them in other cities or contexts in the coming months... It is already in planning, but as it is still in the planning stage, I prefer to surprise you with the return of this summer's festivals and biennials...
Is a new collaboration envisaged in the more or less near future?
SP: The adventure of the busts continues and keeps us very busy. We are very instinctive when we collaborate, we are never safe from a good idea that might arise.
R: For my part, I would very much like to edit the miniature version of SHIFT or LOW RESOLUTION soon!! Maybe for 2025?? What do you think, Stéphane?
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