Paris from an Artist’s Perspective: an Interview with Romina de Novellis

by Carla Ingrasciotta
October 6, 2016
Carla Ingrasciotta
de Novellis Romina

On the occasion of our Focus on Fiac and Paris Art Week 2016, I interviewed Romina de Novellis, represented by Galerie Alberta Pane in Paris.
Romina is an Italian performer and currently resides in Paris. Her artistic work addresses the concept of the body in a public space, and deals with the vulnerability that comes along with subjecting oneself to the gaze of the public.

Carla Ingrasciotta: Your art has a lot in common with dance and theatre, disciplines to which you dedicated years of study. Could you tell us something about the development of your artistic career?

Romina de Novellis: I was a dancer, I studied as a classical dancer and as a contemporary dancer. But after a serious accident in 2006, and an operation which kept me in bed for a few months, I created my first performance in 2006/2007 in a very instinctive way, as soon I was well enough in body and mind… In 2008 I arrived in Paris. Since then I have worked with galleries, museums, art centres and art foundations in France and abroad (Musée de la Chasse et de la Nature, Fiac hors les murs, Jardins des plantes, Palais de Tokyo, Espace Louis Vuitton). In Paris, Galerie Alberta Pane represents my work. I think my work has nothing in common with dance and theatre. In any case, these have nothing in common with the final construction of my work and my creative process. By the way, I do not love performances using the language of dance and theatre to make “a performance”… The difference between dance, theatre and performance is in how the viewer sees it. In a performance, the spectator becomes an actor, they are in an awkward position, they become as vulnerable as the performer, their body is as exposed as mine.

C.I.: As a performer, your body is always the core of your art. How would you describe the relationship between your body and the public space where you perform?

R.D.N.:  I have always thought that the body in general, all bodies, lives in space. I have always thought that the body takes up space. I have always thought that the body moves in a space. I have never thought of the body only as “a carcass”: a skeleton to dress up and to transport from point A to point B. My work is inspired by the surrounding space and replenishes the body in a space that belongs to it forever. The human being forgets the body, covers it and dresses it up according to social constraints: clothes, jewellery, professions, family relationships and forgets the body “simply in a space”. The greatest form of human freedom is to simply feel oneself in a space. When I perform, “I am simply myself in a space” that belongs to me or that greets me. The viewer is recognised as an actor with me sharing the same space at the same time.

C.I.: Talking about your practice, you define your performances as site-specific installations. Could you tell us more about your creative process?

R.D.N.: My work questions human beings’ place in contemporary society. The body in the space of human and professional relationships. Through the installation of my body in space, through time (my performances are always very long and can last several hours), and through the repetition of gestures, the space around me, even the largest space, becomes a cage, becomes a claustrophobic feeling of human being. From my idea of a cage, in which the human being builds its identity, family and work, my performances become very cathartic. The repetition of gestures becomes cathartic for the viewer. Time, infinity, become a wake for human reflection and common liberation. The space around me, in the beginning is a large common cage, and it then becomes an output of salvation both for me and for the viewer. My body, installed in public space (as a site-specific installation), becomes the greatest form of freedom that I wish every human being to experience, at least once, in their lifetime

C.I.: . This year you presented the performance “La Gabbia”, on the occasion of The Armory Show and Sp Arte. Could you tell us something about your collaboration with Raphael Castoriano and Kreëmart?

R.D.N.:  I met Raphael Castoriano three years ago. He has collected my work since 2013. From our first meeting in Paris, we immediately became friends. Then he asked me to do a performance at the Palais de Tokyo in 2015. With Kreëmart he organized the dinner for “les amis du Palais de Tokyo”. When I started working with Alberta Pane, in 2016, she took part in the Armory Show exhibition in NY. I immediately put Alberta in touch with Raphael, who lives and works in NY, and all three of us worked together to present La Gabbia, a live performance, on the occasion of the Armory Show VIP opening. Working with Raphael Castoriano is a real pleasure, he is an extraordinary person and a great professional. He is helping me immensely to distribute my work. Kreëmart has already presented my work: at the Palais de Tokyo in Paris, the Armory Show in New York, Sao Paulo SP-Arte, in Geneva for the main auction on behalf of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and we have many future projects.
On the occasion of “La Gabbia” in NY and Sao Paulo, Raphael Castoriano created a “Kreëmart“ with rose sugar and perfume

C.I.: . What about your upcoming and current projects, such as the performance “Mamma mia” which you’re presenting during the Fundamental Mediations Biennale Poznan in Poland?

R.D.N.: Currently: Fundamental Biennale, Poznan until October 30.
“La Gabbia”: video projection, curator Giulia Casalini at Video Art, Verona from October 13 to November 7.
“La Veglia”: live performance and group show, Alberta Pane Gallery booth, Artissima Art Fair, Torino, November 3.
“La Veglia”: live performance, Geneva, private collectors, Bugnano’ house, presented by Kreëmart, in collaboration with Alberta Pane and Dafna Gallery, Naples, November 18/19.
“DAN/AND”: a new project for the Musée des Arts en Metiers, in collaboration with La Sorbonne, Paris / ESPAS, December, Paris.
“Bella ciao”: a new project for a performing arts festival in Sardinia, December.
Armory Show in March 2017 presented by Alberta Pane Gallery.
“Gradiva l’Arrotin”o: a very big project in collaboration with Dafna Gallery, Naples, curated by Léa Bismuth, for a new performance work in Pompeii and a group exhibition in Bethune, France, at Labanque

C.I.: Why did you choose to move to Paris? Does the city itself inspire your work?

R.D.N.:  I wanted to get away from Rome in 2008. In Rome it’s impossible to have a contemporary and future perspective for art in general and for my work as a woman. Also, I am passionate about anthropology, and here in Paris I can deepen my passion for anthropology studies at the EHESS where I am a PhD student. When I left Rome I was very poor. Paris seemed to be a Latin city to me, so I did not feel so vulnerable. Then, however, I discovered a very different Paris from what I expected… I owe much to Paris: here, I was able to develop my work, I met my husband, Mauro Bordin, a fantastic artist, painter and my personal photographer, our daughter was born in Paris, I have met so many great people. But Paris is also now beginning to be small for my artistic projects… Maybe it’s time to change!

C.I.: Could you tell us five places in Paris you would suggest to someone who loves art? Would you recommend something not to be missed during Fiac art week?

R.D.N.: Maison Rouge, Palais de Tokyo, On site projects Fiac at the Petit Palais, Fondation Cartier, Jeu de Paume.
During Fiac 2016 I recommend you: Paris Internationale Art Fair and also VIP/VIG during the night of galleries of Fiac.

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