Name Olivier de Sagazan
Olivier de Sagazan is a French artist who uses his body as a canvas in his riveting, sometimes disturbing performance art videos. He doesn’t speak English, but we managed to communicate via the internet and here are his answers to some of my questions. Visit his website and youtube for more videos like this one:
Please do not publish this interview without permission. Copyright 2012 Diana Quinn All rights reserved.
1. Tell us a bit about yourself
I was born in Congo, and conceived on a ship travelling between Bordeaux and Brazzaville. All of my life I have felt the tension between Africa and the West, the emotions vs. the intellect, the tangible vs. the visible, nature vs. technology.
2. Where do you live? Do you support yourself by your art?
I live in St. Nazaire, a small seaside town near Nantes, and yes, I make my living by my art.
3. Were you interested in art from your childhood? When did you realize that you were an artist?
When I was little, I just played and invented stories and I still do that today. I was deeply religious until I was about 20 years old, when I discovered philosophy and biology, and realized that we live in a hyper-reality that our ancestors developed to protect themselves.
4. Could you describe your work? You prefer to work through what medium? How? Why?
My work is essentially a hymn to life, an attempt to understand what it means to be alive.
5. What are your most important influences? I see some evidence of Soutine and Francis Bacon.
Rembrandt is my main inspiration, and after him, Bacon.
6. What are your inspirations?
I dreamed of being a dancer, using my own body as an essential element to express my anguish and my fascination with being alive. My performances are another way of channeling this urge. My main inspiration is in looking at nature with the eyes of the biologist I was and the philosopher I am trying to be.
7. What are your greatest challenges?
I work every day and for me it is a way of staying in touch with the world and this "thing" which speaks to me.
8. Do you have any special techniques or tools? What materials do you use?
I use all media, because each of them is a source of inspiration - earth, iron, paint, wood etc.
9. What you are trying to convey through your work? What emotions do you want to provoke in your audience?
I hope people who see my work will say, “Yes I like that, and this is extraordinary.” I'm looking for my art to wake me up, not to numb me to the tragic nature of life – which is often rendered banal by daily routines. We must remain alert and lucid, aware of this amazing thing happening to us. I live in a body, I am a body and soon I will be food for the earthworm.
10. Would you say your work is moving? What do you feel on a personal level, when you create your art?
I try to make it emotional, that is, to provoke us to think and to feel more deeply about the mystery of life.
11. Should art be shocking? Is that a desirable quality?
Art must awaken our senses and our thoughts. But then everything, everyday life, should do that anyway.
12. Could you describe your creative process?
In my Transfiguration performance, where I transform my face, my purpose is to descend into the depths of my being, to bring out what is buried deep inside me. The masks or images that emerge are not merely seen, but felt in a visceral way, and so they create emotion.
14. Do you have a relationship with a gallery? How do you deal with the business of art?
I work with about a dozen galleries and I am always looking for more opportunities to expand further afield.
15. What kind of people connect with your art?
Optimists who know that to understand life one must come to terms with death, uncovering many corpses along the way.
16. Do you work every day?
Yes; vacations are crap.
17. What do you do for fun?
I always work.
18 Could you describe your / your studio / s? Are you orderly and methodical?
It’s a bit of a mess.
19. How do you do to motivate you? What do you do when you collapse?
Every day I motivate myself by saying, “The end of today means makes one day nearer to death.” At the end of the day I am exhausted by what I have achieved during the day, but in the morning I am full of energy because I think, ‘Today I will do something extraordinary!’
20. In 5 or 10 years, where will you be in live?
I have no idea -- probably in the same place and you can ask me the same questions.