Skip to content

Michel Groisman


The Brazilian action artist Michel Groisman stages his own body in sculptural motion-pictures designed for art galleries and museums. With the machines he constructs, he relates the movements of parts of his body to one another in an extremely slow sequence of movements. In other projects, Groisman integrates visitors via games into mutual actions with their own arms, legs and feet.

Michel Groisman´s aim is to transcend the narrow limits of art languages. In his subtle performances the Brazilian action artist relates his own body to the public, making viewers willing participants.

´Tear Weaveair´ for instance is a performance in which Groisman lets a laser-beam, coming from his mouth, wander slowly along his body with the help of small mirrors, breath-protection masks and devices which he calls shoe-adds. Participants, too, are invited to work with these shoe-adds, according to Groisman´s adage: ´While I am weave-airing, you are feet-pairing”.[1]

During his life he has realized works for and staged many exhibitions around the world:

–          Le Case d’Arte, Milan, Italy

–          MAM – Museu de Arte Moderna Rio de Janeiro, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil;

–          Museo de Arte de São Paulo Assis Chateaubriand – MASP, São Paulo, Brazil;

–          Pyramida Center for Contemporary Art, Haifa, Israel;

–          MAM – Museu de Arte Moderna Rio de Janeiro, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

–          MAM, IVAM Institut d´Art Modern, Valencia, Spain;

–          MAC Museo de Arte Contemporáneo, Universidad de Chile, Santiago, Chile;

–          Ikon Gallery, Birmingham, Great Britain

–          El Museo del Barrio, New York City, USA

–          Galeria Luisa Strina, São Paulo, Brazil

–          and many others.

Vodpod videos no longer available.


Michel arrived. His wife had previously welcomed us. He had gone to buy the necessary instruments for the imminent performance, in which we would all be involved.

We all sat down around Michel and began talking with him about his work.

After about hald an hour, Michel said that words should give stage to action…

At that point we arranged ourselves in a circle in the centre of the tiled square inside of his garden. Michael grabbed a colorful bag, took  out of it many clear, rigid, platic cups,  and assigned one to each of us. Then he took a jug of water and filled his cup.

The performance began.

He approached one of us and poured all the contents of his cup into that person’s cup. Suddenly, the person who received the water from Michael decided to repeat the same act toward someone else. After a transition, someone decided not to put all the water in one cup, but chose to redistribute among several; someone else instead poured it on the ground. Michel stopped the performance and added some thoughts about what had just happened.

“Throughout the period of the performance it is possible to identify short phases. Every new phase introduces a small change, a little step ahead, compared to the previous one and is in turn the starting point of the next. ”

Here is a summary in outline of the stages of the performance:

1) Everyone has a glass. There is a single glass originally filled with water (Michel’s). This water is circulated in an entirely free way;

[…]…Some questions about…How discover flux, how do you use flux of the water?

Because we are playing with the water but normally we play without it…[…][2]

2) Who has the glass with water and can move about inside the circle, eyes closed, letting the water fall down, allowing others the choice to pick it up or not;

[…]…I don’t need to be afraid, to go with the water against the glass of someone, to choose where I am going to put the water. I just close my eyes and I make a slow movement to give the chance to someone coming to receive the water…You wouldn’t know who came…When we close eyes sometimes I thought maybe nobody comes and the water falls down, nobody likes me. With the eyes closed we don’t have the control of the situation and the more continuous is our movement, the more easy is for the others to receive our water…[…]

3) The focus passes from the water to the movement of passing the water;

[…]…The water is going out. You have the chance to let the water go out…The person who receives the water receives your movement. When I receive the water I receive your movement together. When I close my eyes I only prosecute with my body in that movement that I received. The movement changes, it’s not the same. I don’t need to control the movement…[…]

However, when Michael noticed something he wanted to stress, he stopped the performance and highlighted certain key concepts.

[…]…Normally we put attention more in the water because it’s substantial…But it’s very important to put the attention in the movement, to change our way to think and to put the attention in the movement and to think “I give the change to the water to go but I don’t need to put so much attention in the water”. Because if we put too much attention in the water we forget the movement and we only pass the water…It’s the movement that makes this water alive…and it’s this movement that helps the other person…[…]

4) Couples are formed. The focus here is on the duration of the movement;

[…]…When you are making your movement and you feel still a little bit water, don’t worry, continue your movement and maybe the water could go completely down…You can continue a little bit more your movement giving the other person more clear your movement to let her better receive it…This is very concrete…[…]

5) From the colored bag bands and other glasses are extracted. Now everyone can freely choose how many glasses “to wear” on her body and in which part of it to place them. The level of difficulty has highly increased.

[…]You have a lot of elastics. Take a lot of cups. You’ll have a lot of cups on your body…You could choose different part of your body…[…]

[1] Source (

[2] Excerpts from Michael’s speeches

by Matteo Zanetti

%d bloggers like this: