Interview with Juliette Dominati
Juliette Dominati (1990, Paris) is a visual artist, a performer, and a film/theater director. Graduated from the National Art School of Paris in 2017, she develops her work in the field of installation, that include paintings, videos, performances, and all kind of fragments. Her productions play with the overlap zones between raw reality and fiction. The artist develops her work in the field of theatre, film and fiction with the same aesthetic of collage. She records stories, memories, small gestures in her everyday life and reenacts them with actors, mixing them and building a corpus of stories.
Interview by Justin Archer, Co-Founder of FOA for Volume 10
Justin: Can you tell us a little about yourself and what led you to becoming an artist?
Juliette: I grew up in Paris in the 90s, a busy city full of visual content, where I have been surrounded by images, objects, information, representations. I had already seen the representation of most of the things I would get to experience growing up. To the point that my every day life could also get a taste of fiction. Playing with what is around or questioning it, became a habit that I see now at as an attempt to relate it. Producing images, objects or narrative was a natural way to respond and connect to my environment, as this production was already my surroundings.
Justin: The installations you create have an incredible use of found objects and contemporary painting methods. Can you talk about how you create a work and how the found objects play a role in your process?
Juliette: I glean all kinds of images and objects that I find in my environment. I collect scraps of materials, postcards, pieces of objects, fabrics, and photography or film what surrounds me. Then, I invest these disparate pieces by covering them with paint and finally, I assemble them. The forms it produces are more a corpus of experiments. In each case, the main focus is to start from the given, from the object, from its formal qualities. Presented as an evolutionary and open process, I approach painting through sensitive environments. I feel that when you paint, you engage yourself into a discussion with the History of Paint. Because painting always refers to its own history. You find yourself in a flow of images, attempts, choices that were made, lines, techniques, etc., systems of representation and gestures, a wide circuit navigating from the most ancient times to now. Coming from that discipline, it has always been quite clear to me that the forms we produce do not belong to us. It is always a matter of looking, sampling, reorganizing.
Justin: What was the first moment you realized that these everyday objects could be used so effectively in your work?
Juliette: When I discovered that all surfaces were available for painting and not just paper or canvas, I started to collect objects and used them as a support. Soon after, I realized that I could also use those objects for their shapes and colors qualities -as if they were already paintings. Seeking to produce a body of works that would have its own logic, I could paint without using paint. What is paint? A liquid applied to a surface. Etymologically, to apply means to join, to attach to. I am now interested in creating bounds within different objects and different medias. I practice painting through covering-up objects, I coat them, using ready-mades as to redeem them, I attach them one to another, trying to reveal their presence /or some presence. Some of them could be domestic artworks, others could go back on being leftovers. I try to nullify hierarchy between the pieces, between materials, durable and fragile, or between mediums.
Justin: Are you always on the look-out for unique objects that draw your attention? Do you make specific trips to places in hopes of finding things?
Juliette: I am always looking-out for objects to take -maybe as a photographer would always look-out for a picture to take. I travel a lot in hopes of being surprised. I don’t have anything specific in mind before going somewhere. I am mostly attracted to common objects.
Justin: You talk about how deeply connected art and everyday life are to one another. I’d love to hear more of your thoughts on this? Any small gestures, any wall, every table and lemon, have tremendous qualities and could be transformed into art just by displacing them from their original context. The most normal gesture becomes fictional as soon as it is rehearsed. We can look at a lemon and think « it’s a still-life painting », or look at nature and see landscapes. Turning the most common things into art pieces enables to pay attention to details in the every day life and can make the world less uncanny. It also makes art pieces less weighty and sacred. I think art enables to create a bound with reality. To fictionalize things around makes them feel more familiar, less serious, and more interesting.
Justin: You’re currently doing a Residency in Iceland, which sounds like an incredible opportunity! Can you share what you have been working on and how the environment has been influencing you?
Juliette: I have been collecting stones for years now. Big heavy and beautiful non-precious stones. One of my first idea being here was to find one for my collection. But there is a strong Icelandic belief implying that elves elect stones as their homes. If a stone got displaced, the world would get upside-down. I find this beautiful. I am working on a docu/fiction with the inhabitants of Seydisfjordur, a village of 600 persons. In the film, a rumor says that a tourist has stolen a rock which could have been the house of an elf.
Justin: What would be your dream project if there were no limitations?
Juliette: I would love to create a theme park. A huge immersive theater where several scenes would be displayed simultaneously. The whole would functions as a world in which the viewer would only has to walk around. It would combine installation, theater, film and visual arts.