Olivier de Sagazan in Three Key “Living Performance Art” videos

Originally trained as a biologist, the Congo-born, France-based painter and sculptor Olivier de Sagazan has since turned to a practice of "Living Performance Art" with the ever-present idea of questioning organic life. He performs 'Transfiguration' on Sunday 18 June as part of the Conflux Festival's closing concert at WORM.

“Having studied biology, I understand to what extent we are controlled by our genes and all these urges which push us towards survival and the maintenance of our species. How do we avoid falling into the same behavioural pattern, to not keep painting the same thing? ‘Blind’ painting set something free within me. Before I was too involved in this idea of the artist who slaves away to make a pretty picture. But what counts isn’t beauty in the classical sense, but what we can call the question of a presence.”

Transfiguration, 1998

“Lenfermoi is all about destabilising what constitutes an individual’s identity, questioning your presence, your identity; all in all, about selfhood. In Transfiguration, in fact, it looks like I’m not my face, but that I am actually far beyond that. In Lenfermoi, if I am what I say, then I am not my own source, since the words that I’m saying in the performance are ones which are coming to me completely improvised. They’re words and sentences that I’m discovering at the same time as the audience.”

Lenfermoi, 2017

“I was very religious until I was about 20, and then after studying biology and philosophy, it all kind of fell apart. After a year suffering from depression, I had a thought that saved me: yes, life is meaningless, but I’m going to make my life a quest for meaning. From that moment onwards, I transformed what was causing me so much despair into a pure, independent source of energy. Anxiety about life became an infinite source of possibility, and something to celebrate.”

il nous est arrivé quelque chose, 2023

After a long series of performances around clay, including his seminal work Transfiguration, for his latest performance piece Olivier de Sagazan returns to his origins as a biologist to explore the body as a Living Machine.

Quotes from a 2015 interview for Artkhade. Read a recent interview with Olivier de Sagazan for DTF Magazine.

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