Discovery Series: COMPANY interviews the lovely Sarah Trouche
Rhoni Blankenhorn for COMPANY
(January 2, 2012) We found the wondrous Sarah Trouche while in Miami for an Art-V adventure, shuttling art-lovers all around town during one of the biggest art events of the year. Though mainly focused on performance, Sarah was exhibiting her photographs with the notoriously rowdy Fountain Art Fair, one of our favorite places to discover new artists. I must admit I haven't seen her "actions" in person - Sarah is extremely site-specific and travels all over the world for her work, creating socio-political works that sometimes take her to the edge of danger. Using a multi-platformed approach of performance, photography, and video, she complements her actions with striking photos and videos that continue the dialogue begun by her initial performance. Sarah lives and works in Paris, France, and can be seen at Fountain Art Fair NYC in March 2012.
COMPANY: Why are you drawn to performance art as opposed to other mediums? What was your first performance?
Sarah: Actually, I am originally a painter. I still paint; it helps me think through how to set up my actions. I started concentrating in performance ten years ago because I was drawn to the freedom it allows in medium, the immediate reaction and confrontation, and being face to face with my audience. I call my performances “actions” because of the active engagement performance instills in an audience – to me it is very different than looking at a painting or sculpture. I decided to do my first performance in the center of Paris, on a bridge in front of Notre Dame Cathedral. You can imagine it is usually packed with tourists. I jumped off the bridge, nude, in February – I’m sure I surprised a few people.
COMPANY: Who inspires you?
Sarah: Romeo Castellucci , Ana Mendieta , Gina Pane to name a few
COMPANY: What is your motivation? Is there a common thread across your actions?
Sarah: I travel a lot for my art. My work is a reaction to my immediate environment, particularly the social and political climate. For example, I will be in Japan for one month in February, and I’ve always imagined what I could do there. But I strive to be very site and time specific, very in the moment. I can brainstorm now, but the process really starts when I arrive on location, and imagine how I can position myself within the new context.
COMPANY: Some of your actions are reasonably dangerous, like climbing on top of buildings and hanging upside down from pretty high up. Do you find that an element of risk is necessary for truly impactful performance?
Sarah: I don’t think risk is necessary, but it can sometimes be very effective. It can heighten the feeling of spectacle, and can really stick in the mind of the viewer. That being said, I don’t think highly of artists who dangerous things purely to attract attention. The work should be strong in multiple ways, not just shock and awe. I never try and make an action risky but if the risk has to be taken in order to achieve the piece as I envision it, I am ready to take it on without hesitation!
COMPANY: I heard that after your last trip China you are not allowed back in the country! What was that performance about and how do you feel about the police response?
Sarah: I really hope to be allowed back in China I love the country! I am actually hoping to do a new exhibit in Shanghai for September 2012. I do my best to create a strong link between my performance and the site, and because I work often in public spaces, police response is definitely a concern. There is a huge difference to me between the reactions of my immediate audience and the public, and the government authorities. It is the public I am concerned with, the population. I never ask official permission to do my actions and I accept the consequences of that.
COMPANY: It seems that it is sometimes difficult for performance artists to connect with collectors, because the nature of the work is so fleeting. How do you handle this?
Sarah: I have my performances documented, and consider the photography and video as part of the performance. I don’t separate them, they are linked together. I am a performance artist who works with photography and videos, and I visualize the photographs and videos while I am in process of doing the action. So my work can actually be experienced in multiple ways, live, in photo or in video.
COMPANY: What are your relationships like with your collectors?
Sarah: I am a non represented artist, so I have pretty close relationships with my collectors. I have had the opportunity to be featured in several bigger art collections, but many of my collectors are younger, between 20 and 35 years old. In a sense, we are growing up together, learning and growing through art. I love opening up a dialogue with my collectors and others during my creative process, and I make a lot of effort to foster a community around art. I enjoy bringing my collectors together for drinks and socializing in different places, like the Hotel Particuliers Montmartre in Paris run by one of my collectors Morganne Rousseau. I am so thankful to my collectors for their support. For me, art is a sharing experience, and I think that is really what drives me to performance. I love that we all meet for a brief action and then it is over. What we keep is the memory of that collective moment.