Interview with Coralie Ruiz and Anthony Stephinson, founder of Goswell Road
Goswell Road is a space run by Coralie Ruiz and Anthony Stephinson, two artists who opened up their atelier to other artists. Departing from the traditional concept of the gallery, Goswell Road aims to compensate for the lack of representation of many artists in Paris. In this interview they talk about moving their space over several places in Paris and even having a Goswell House in the countryside.
When did you open the space?
We opened Goswell Road in November 2016 in our atelier in Paris’ 10eme district just off the busy Rue du Faubourg Saint-Denis. The area is the heart of the Kurdish and Indian communities in Paris, and one of the most eclectic parts of the city. Its popular central location could be defined by the fact that you can still get a pint for 3.50€, so it attracts a vast array of people. Many artists, creatives, and musicians are drawn to the area, and it is constantly evolving.
Goswell Road itself has been nomadic for the past year, popping up in the Marais, and in Paris’ Belleville at the invitation of Balice Hertling gallery. Our upcoming show will return it to its base on Rue de l’Echiquier in the 10eme, though we don’t see it defined or restrained by this space. As its borrowed name suggests Goswell Road can be anywhere.
Your space is run by artists. Tell us more about this.
We are a Franco-Britannique art duo, Coralie Ruiz (FR) and Anthony Stephinson (UK), who work under the combined name Ruiz Stephinson (www.ruizstephinson.com). Invitation, communication, lifestyle and emotional contact runs throughout our practice. Since our beginning in Paris in 2012 we have moved around the city and had four different ateliers. The space that we occupy as Goswell Road is in a courtyard of a residential building, on a small street in a very busy area. We took a step back and realised that we were in a privileged position, being so centrally located, and decided to share this. We knew of a lot of artists in France, the UK, and all over the world that had little to no representation in Paris, and it was a way for us to give them visibility. Most of the shows we present are the first official presentations for the artists in Paris.
Each time we produce a show, we publish a book with the artist/curator and curate a bouquet of flowers. The books started out as limited edition monographs that gave the show an extended life, outside of the space, and have grown to include a second incarnation: A Goswell Reader. These are text-based books, which contain anything from poetry, artist literature, theory, critical thinking, or simply take the shape of a traditional reader format. The flowers are meant to speak of our relationship to the artist who is showing, and visualise our combined relationship. They reflect the work and the time, and are a gift to the artist. They are always at the entrance of the show and replace the traditional ‘gallery flowers’ that are usual in commercial galleries. They act as sculptural interventions.
Where does the name of your space come from?
Before relocating to Paris in 2012, we lived in London on Goswell Road (https://goo.gl/maps/YzdE1UcbiB92) for several years. The road is relatively unknown, but connects Britain’s most famous brutalist architectural icon The Barbican Centre to Labour stronghold neighborhood Angel Islington, in EC1 central London.
There is some dispute over the origins of the road’s name, though one of the most widely accepted is that it derives from God’s Well and the traditional pagan practice of Well-Worshipping. The subterranean New River runs underneath it, and helped provide safe drinking water to the area. Legend has it that many theatres were moved onto that side of London to stop the audience drinking alcohol, becoming inebriated, and throwing vegetables at the stage; they could instead have safe drinking water and subsequently watch the performances peacefully. We also enjoy the connotation of Goes Well implying that everything is going just great.
What brought you to contemporary art in the first place?
As a duo, it was very fluid. We met through mutual friends in 2009 and talked through the night about the way we saw things, and decided to collaborate soon after. We both studied art separately, though we didn’t explore our art practices singularly, it wasn’t until we started to make work together in 2012 that we grew a combined practice.
Is there someone who particularly influenced you?
In our art practice various artists, creatives and musicians constantly influence us, but with Goswell Road and the model it has taken and has become, it has been completely autonomous. We never defined a path for it, so we follow it and grow with it to see where it will take us.
Tell us about your program and the artists you show.
Due to the nature of the space, our program does not follow a regular schedule, as it is usually shared with our atelier. As we said, one of the main reasons we decided to open up our space to artists to show was the lack of representation for many artists in Paris. We have shown a wide range of practitioners, and some that could be considered ‘underground’: that is, if being underrepresented is being underground.
When we started Goswell Road, there was only After 8 Books, Goton, and Édouard Montassut nearby. The Community opened a few streets away at exactly the same time as us, and within a year Balice Hertling had opened in Saint Martin and Until Then Gallery on Boulevard Magenta. More recently, Sundogs has opened around the corner and there will surely be more to come. It’s an area that is full of art appreciation but very few gallery spaces, so to suddenly have more within walking distance, has really changed the dynamic.
What is one exhibition or project that you are especially proud of?
We are very proud of all of the exhibitions and projects that come from,and have grown out of Goswell Road.
How do you see your space in a decade?
We don’t think the space as it is, and where it is, now, will exist. It will move somewhere else, more likely several places at once. We think there will always be some sort of Goswell Road space in Paris, but have plans to expand as a much bigger project, Goswell House, in the countryside: a living project with ateliers, a library and a gallery.
Which artist are you going to show at Paris Internationale?
We will show a solo presentation by David West, an American artist who has lived and worked in Paris since 2002. The works shown will concentrate on intimate pencil drawings, and several paintings of friends and musicians of the avant-garde, and the people of the underground, in rehearsal rooms and bars including groups like Suicide, Throbbing Gristle, Blixa Bargeld, Wire, also Patti Smith and many others. West was an integral part of the New York underground scene in the 1980s and 90s. He exhibited and worked on projects, with Mark Flood, Mike Kelley and Tony Oursler, to name just a few.
Goswell Road takes part in the fourth edition of Paris art fair Paris Internationale, from October 17th to 21st, 2018.
18 rue de l’Echiquier
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