French artist Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster was among the first collaborators of Purple magazine, when it was founded in 1992. She’s best known for her films and installation projects, which draw people into a psychically quiet space as much like reading as looking, and always engaging the associated memories of contemporary living. She works with every kind of medium and situation, from architecture to books — lots of books — which she displays in rows and piles as enticing as Hansel’s breadcrumbs to pick up. She’s also designed a house, boutiques for Balenciaga, stage sets for French musician Alain Bashung, has co-written a science fiction book, and thrives in an ever-expanding field of interests and endeavours. Because we’ve known her for so long, we asked her to lead us through her panoramic view of art and life. She’s worked in Europe, the US, and Asia and divides her time equally between Rio de Janeiro and Paris.
interview by OLIVIER ZAHM
OLIVIER ZAHM — To start, let’s take a panoramic look at your experience in the world and in the world of art, since they run together and are always running into each other in your work. Where shall we begin?
DOMINIQUE GONZALEZ-FOERSTER — I’d like to begin far, far away, out in space with the stars, where we will all certainly be going one day.
OLIVIER ZAHM — What is space for you?
DOMINIQUE GONZALEZ-FOERSTER — For me it is the beginning and end of the world. I have often imagined that one of the ways of not dying — the dream of eternity — would be to leave Earth. In Mission to Mars, there’s one great shot where one of the cosmonauts gets lost in space, giving the impression that he will never really die, just continue to orbit forever. When I’m 90, I wouldn’t mind getting on a flight to Mars or experimenting with a trip into the galaxy or an unending spatial migration!
OLIVIER ZAHM — Is this a scientific hypothesis for you or an artist’s vision?
DOMINIQUE GONZALEZ-FOERSTER — There is a recent scientific development that I am interested in: the discovery of an exoplanet [an extra-solar planet located outside our solar system]. Astronomers are looking for them and they’re finding them! One of the domains of astronomy consists of looking for planets that may resemble Earth as “reserve” planets for us...