Selected Works, 1990–2006

Philippe Ramette


The work of French artist Philippe Ramette, installed across from that of Erwin Wurm in the St. Patrick subway station, relates to Wurm’s in its preoccupations with sculptural construction, performance and the photograph as document.

His Magrittean images of a man in a suit walking up a tree trunk, standing on a balcony built into a wall of water and sitting on a chimney with the horizon rotated 90 degrees are not the trompe l’oeil images they seem to be, nor are they digitally constructed; they are scenes Ramette choreographs and actually enacts himself.

Ramette began his career as a sculptor. The specialized prostheses and devices that he makes, worn hidden under his black suit, allow him to put himself into what he calls “irrational postures,” gravity-defying situations that enable his body to experience what should have otherwise been left to the imagination. Marc Domage, his collaborator, makes the photographs. These, as records, attest to the usability of the devices and to Ramette’s altered relationship to his surroundings.

While Ramette’s obstinately analogue craft eludes gravity, it does not elude gravitas. He presents a universe where human beings oscillate between moral baseness and spiritual grandeur, between the desire for damage and the desire for freedom. His sculptural objects amplify the potential of the body under special, paradoxical conditions while at the same time engaging ideas about how it is that we gather knowledge about the world.

Born in 1961, Ramette lives and works in Paris. His work has been featured in numerous solo and group exhibitions, most notably Mutations I (2006), which toured to seven venues as part of the European Month of Photography, and La force de l’art (2006) at the Grand Palais in Paris. His work can be found in important public collections including Paris’s Maison européenne de la photographie and its Fonds National d’Art Contemporain. This is Ramette’s first exhibition in Canada.

This installation is proudly sponsored by Concord Adex Developments Corporation as part of their Private Developer Public Art Program.

Installation co-presented with the Art Gallery of Ontario.

Curated by Sophie Hackett and Bonnie Rubenstein