STARTUP 2 - Page 74

Translation by Timothy Barnard

Whether she is exploring the traces left by human activity in the places where she is carrying out one of her investigations or is trying to get close to the other by engaging them in what she calls an “act of unveiling,”(1) collaboration has a special role to play in the way Raphaëlle de Groot chooses to make works. The involvement of the other is a recurring fact of her artistic practice, one most often tied up with collections of the traces she discovers or solicits from individuals. Thus the fingerprints lifted from books at Montréal’s main public library for Collecte d’empreintes (Gathering Imprints, 1998) are those of readers who had handled the volumes in this collection; the names and addresses in Microcosme (2000) are those of the residents of Chicoutimi; and the identity cards used in Portraits de clients (2007) refer to the customers of a former bank in Ottawa. While these “incidental collaborators”(2) were placed in relation to the artist without their knowing it, the recording of their presence in the field of the investigation that de Groot selects are the primary material of a labour obsessed with the trace and turned towards the invisible. As Dominique Abensour remarks, the artworks that arise from this project constitute communities unaware of this fact.(3) In other projects, such as Dévoilements (Unveilings, 1998-2001), Colin-Maillard (1999-2001) and 8 x 5 x 363 + 1 (2004-6), Raphaëlle de Groot has undertaken long-term collaborations, in the course of which she sees “the other as a land to explore.”(4) Elaborated in the space opened by difference and guided by exchange, these projects in which she immerses herself in specific communities (religious communities, the vision-impaired, factory workers) set out to examine the relationship with the other in order to call into question the specificity of the figure of the artist. By inventing protocols for action and interaction which take the particularities of these milieux into account, de Groot generates quantities of materials (drawings, documents, information, images) which she organizes in such a way as to express the fragmentary and exploratory quality of the space established between the self and the other.

Raphaëlle de Groot, The Coat | Le Manteau, 2012. Photo: Idra Labrie, Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec