Tell me a little bit about who you are and what you do.
I live in France, a self-taught handyman and I make sculptures from recycled matter and waste. I invent and make unusual constructions. I work only with recovered metal parts. All the assemblies are done with screws or bolts. Metal is ideal, I like the material, it is easy to work with particular reflections, differently patinated, which are harmonized easily.
Why metal? Because more and more products of our daily life are made of plastic, these assemblages actually use objects from an earlier era that mark our memories, that encourage a slight nostalgia.
What, to you, is integral to the work of an artist?
My creative engine is really to have fun and tell beautiful stories to people who come and discover my robots. There is a lot of humor in my creations. I’ve kept a child’s soul.
How has your practice changed over time?
The story begins with a simple flat key lock. I had found that the form lent itself well to becoming a small skull. So I sawed it, filed it, and pierced it. Then, equipped with 2 rivets, the “skull” was created ! The latter is now my signature and my trademark. This key diversion, very simple to achieve, within reach of anyone, finally—and very symbolically—opened new doors! Later I made bigger death heads with kitchen lids and utensils.
Why skulls made with cooking utensils? It is a raw material that is easy to find and work with. The symbolism of these skulls is, for me, a contemporary retelling of the vanities of the seventeenth century often represented by skulls. The message was ‘remember that you will die’, memento mori, emphasizing the lightness of life in the face of the inevitability of death.
In our time nothing has fundamentally changed except that death can also result from junk food, hence these assemblages made from cooking utensils. And then finally, where I arrived now as a sculptor, robot assemblage. I love assembling robots for their vintage appearance, and their terrible and invading look. With a little imagination, any element can fit into the assembly. Now I assemble robots with better finishes, sometimes I insert luminous LEDs.
What defines your process as an artist?
Each construction is a real challenge, constantly renewed. Usually, I don’t have any preconceived idea, I work only with my visual instinct.
Often for the robots, I discover a box, a fire extinguisher, a toaster, a vacuum, an electric case…which is going to become the body, and after, I have to find what can make the other parts.
Either the final vision is immediate, or the idea of the potential must mature and will emerge later on. And as pieces are unique, I can never reproduce a robot identically. The performance consists in creating, each time with absolutely different materials, different bots.
What is your scariest experience?
One night, several robots, in the midst of being finished in my workshop, kidnapped me. They asked a ransom from my wife of several litres of fat and WD 40 spray. I almost stayed there, because my wife is a little less than happy with the many robots that are everywhere in the house, but she nevertheless responded to the request of the kidnappers and I was released!
Describe a real-life situation that inspired you.
Beyond a beautiful inspiration, a beautiful encounter. I was lucky enough to be contacted by Maker Faire Paris. I discovered a universe of innovation, creativity, of putting forward the do-it-yourself enthusiasts, creators. And for two years now I have been very proud to participate and to give my modest contribution to “the maker movement”. The aim is to give as many people as possible the chance to “do it yourself” with new technologies, sustainable development, science. During this annual gathering in Paris, over two separate events, I was able to show my robots. I am convinced that the next technological revolution is being born in gatherings such as this one. And I got to meet robots …real ones that are not static like mine!
My first creations were, first of all, amusement and detournement. It was over the space of years that my practice improved, and the forms were perfected, before art arrived. However, it is not art for art, but above all the ability to compose a piece into harmony from disparate elements that have no relation to each other. I want to bring a different, playful, dreamlike look to these everyday objects.
What memorable responses have you had to your work?
One year ago, I was contacted by a French school textbook editor. He asked my permission to publish photos of my robots to illustrate a problem of geometry, mass calculation. I have accepted, of course. So now, generations of children will not only see my photos of robots, but will use them to learn. In this subliminal way, I have an opportunity to condition my future buyers!
What superpower would you have and why?
Since my early childhood, I have always tinkered with things, repaired structures, diverted objects…but also, saved lost things from the garbage! I am therefore already at the junction of the two universes…but I do not have the cape of a superhero.
What is your dream project?
I don’t have an “artistic career plan”. For now, I am feeding each day the surprises and encounters that my robots cause. Every day brings its share of good news and discoveries. I love talking with people I meet at exhibitions. We talk about the composition of the assemblages, of their vision of them which is sometimes different from mine. Carpe Diem!
What role do art, and the artist, have in society?
I, as an artist, recover various objects:scrap, kitchen utensils, metal parts, tools of mechanics. I find my pieces in the street, at the waste disposal center, in second hands markets…My approach consists in giving them a second life by diverting them from their original vocation. Each achievement made from what others view as waste is unique. It is important to demonstrate that waste, things destined for the garbage, can be recycled and become unique artistic objects. But the real artists are those, especially in developing countries, whose ingenuity of recycling waste is functionally erected in real know-how, for everyday use.
Name three artists you would like to be compared to and why.
To compare would be feel very pretentious, but I will mention a couple. I love the machines of Jean Tinguely, because they are an accumulation of small pieces, perfectly adjusted, which fit together and produce nothing, except a feather that stirs, or a bell that sounds! He always creates superb machines with mechanisms and gears that produce a playful and funny effect. And his wife, Nicki de St Phalle, who became known for performances during which she shoots rifles on pockets of paint, splashing with colour, to create assemblages. But she has also made a few mechanical sculptures. For instance , fontaine Stravinsky in Paris is composed of sculptures, all mechanized, black or coloured, and animated by jets of water.
Favourite or most inspirational place and why?
Garbage disposal! There is matter at will, all forms, nothing is foreseeable, each visit is a surprise because I discover new objects that call me. Every time I go there with enthusiasm and hope to find something original and unique.
What is the best piece of advice you have given?
Of course, at salons or exhibitions children are very attracted to the robots. Generally they look at what composes the characters, here a fire extinguisher, here a mixing table, here a gas meter. I explain to them that they must let their creative imagination express itself. The assembly of a robot is not very complicated, they just have to go in the kitchen take the raw material: dishes, pans forks, boxes…Then using dad’s drill, make a few holes and screw…it’s simple and when they present their masterpiece to Dad and Mom, the latter will be delighted by so much creativity.
Professionally, what is your goal?
First MOMA, second Tate, and third Beaubourg 😉
What couldn’t you do without?
My workshop. It is a veritable bazaar, a pile of scrap metal, a mountain of pieces accumulated over years, and all this is in my cellar. Sometimes when I cannot find sleep, I go down to tinker a little. It is gratifying to be able to give a second life to objects intended to become waste.
Gille Monte Ruici is a French artist, based in Paris, He builds sculptures, essentially robots, exclusively using recycled scrap metal parts. He finds his materials in trash cans, in the street, or in second hand trades. His approach gives these scraps a second life and repurposes them. Some of his creations were exhibited in +Brauer Gallery in Paris and in Belgium. His robots were also exhibited during the Paris Maker Faire in 2016.