'9:00 AM' is a solo show by French artist Romain Sarrot and the 3rd quarter of his “conceptual creativity cycle corpus: the cycle of the Departure I”.
In response to the exhibition space, a window display covering sixteen meters in length, the artist proposes the theatrical installation, '9:00 AM'. It brings together a dozen quasi-fictional works that question the forms of transcendence. By its staging, the artist emphasizes that of the elevation.
The windows are covered with a veil. Behind the opaque windows, we can see fragments of roofs and masks. A porthole underlines the presence of ladders. An "exit"
symbol materializes a gateway on which is engraved 9:00 AM. Everything seems to signal an imminent departure... A sensation of lightness invades the visitor.
The exhibition, 9:00 AM, in allusion to the popular song "Rocket Man" by Elton John and the “Third" of religious monks, brings together spiritual traditions. It evokes both the descent and the ascent. It attempts to represent the feelings of fear and euphoria, the desires for adventure and peace that emanate from the unknown.
The installation questions the search for a mysterious kind of euphoria that accompanies the sensation of elevation. It puts us in this very particular state of weightlessness and suspension, as if our soul was leaving the body. For Romain Sarrot, the impossibility, for humans, to be satisfied with their finite condition is at the heart of the exhibition. He thus wants to represent the struggle between the desire for adventure and peace, between comfort and danger, the struggle between belief and experience.
The artist stages the porosity between heaven and earth, ascendent and descendent movements, the top and the bottom. The title-hour 9:00 AM brings together spiritual traditions. It evokes “the Third”, a prayer signifying both the descent and the ascent. The reference to 9:00 am is also present in popular culture, as in the song “Rocket Man” by Elton John. The song talks about an astronaut on a mission in space and whose family he misses. It is directly inspired by a science fiction short story by Ray Bardbury, the Rocket Man, told by Doug, a 14-year-old boy, whose father travels in space for three consecutive months, stays at home next to his grieving mother Lilly. In Bradbury's story, the rocket man is torn between his two lives as if was gravity pulling him back to the unknown adventure in the sky. Each time he returns, his wife experiences his living presence as a memory. The song highlights the feeling of fatality and loss on the part of the father. By means of a theatrical installation, 9:00 AM therefore deals with latency and with the feelings it engenders. Romain Sarrot stages the euphoria of losing ground and the exaltation of elevation by using an all encompassing mystical white light, opacified window, fragments of roof-tops and ladders. The spectator is situated at the level of experience. He lives the experience as if he was omniscient.
One way of approaching the exhibition is to see how it explores forms of transcendence. Ascension is one of them. The spectator is moving beyond the limits of the physical world. We are entering into a spiritual realm, evoking the feeling of rising above the earth when one starts to fly. There are faces in silicon in the exhibition. They are inspired by the Mostasu: “talking statues” that served as an outlet for the frustrations and complaints of the people. The reference to this popular form of confession,
coexisting with more traditional Christian confessions, introduces a more ambiguous take on transcendence and spirituality. The Mostasu is a hybrid sitting somewhere between the insect, the human and the animal. The use of silicon not only refers to human flesh but also to sexuality, as if we were looking at the repressed in religion.
Throughout the exhibition '9 AM’, we are facing the profound dissatisfaction that lies underneath our mystical quests of euphoria. In John Steinbeck's "The Winter of Our Discontent", Ethan experiences the feeling of Weltschmerz. This term, introduced by German romantic poet Jean Paul, refers to the pain one feels when one realizes that our spiritual desires will never be fulfilled because of the physical limitation of a finite world. One could say that it is this pain that the exhibition is trying to translate visually. It thus plunges us into melancholia when we realize that this world will never satisfy our deepest desires.
Written by Anissa Touati.
Romain Sarrot's solo show is presented in collaboration with HATCH, Paris, FR, and is curated by Anissa Touati. It is the second show in VITRINE Bermondsey’s gallery collaboration programme.
Collaboration with HATCH, Paris, FR
Curator Anissa Touati.
Romain Sarrot (b. 1986, FR) lives and works in Paris, FR. He has exhibited internationally at institutes, galleries and art fairs including: Dom Museum, Vienna, AT; Villa Belleville, Paris, FR; Sans titre, Paris, FR; Gallery Artbeat, Tbilisi, GE; NÉVÉ, Los Angeles, USA; Parcours Saint–Germain, FR; High Art, Paris, FR; M. LeBlanc, Chicago, USA; O’Flaherty’s, New York, USA; Karl Marx Studio, Paris, FR; Palazzo Monti, Brescia, IT; 35-37, Paris, FR; Galería Nueva, Madrid, ES; Galerie Charraudeau, Paris, FR; Ground Effect, Paris, FR; Galerie Bubenberg, Paris, FR; Thundercage, Paris, FR; Chez Mohamed, Paris, FR; Espace T, Paris, FR; Material Art Fair, Mexico City, MX; Paris Internationale, FR.
Anissa Touati is a French independent curator with an education background in archaeology. She is also the founding director of the cultural organization Octavia, which supports hybridity as a potential root of harmonious community life. She is the curator-at-large of Paris Internationale, curator-in-chief of the launch of the Thalie Foundation in Arles and curator of the Pavilion for a Mediterranean Nation at the Lagos Biennale, Nigeria (2022-2023). She is the former artistic director of the Contemporary Istanbul fair, for which she built a program of reflection on the question of Mediterraneanity, and the former associate director of the Chalet Society in Paris. She has organized or co-organized exhibitions in institutions and galleries around the world, including Turkey, Lebanon, Mexico, Argentina, the United States, Italy and France, including the launch of the BeMa museum in Lebanon in 2018, Cycles of collapsing progress. Since 2021, she has been a member of the committee of the MAH Geneva, a member of the acquisition committee of the FRAC Corse, a member of the jury of the Ecole Supérieure d'Architecture de Paris-Malaquais and nominator of the Sovereign African Art Prize, South Africa.
HATCH is a project space dedicated to support and promote international young and emerging artists, through fresh, vibrant and engaged exhibition programmes, located in Paris and operating across non-traditional settings. Founded in 2022 by Margot de Rochebouët and Giovanna Traversa. HATCH aims to cultivate a sense of community and embrace a collaborative approach.