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Let the Lonely Shells Dream, Interview with Youri Cayron and Romain Rivalan

The year 2019 has seen a tremendous development for RAW Streetphoto Gallery. The gallery expanded its team as well as enlarged its international horizons by participating in international art fairs such as Photo Basel (Switzerland) and The Others Art Fair (Italy). Following this international orientation, RAW was looking forward to holding a uniquely diverse exhibition for the end of 2019; one that could challenge both the conformity of the gallery and of its visitors.

The expectations were reached by the multi-media exhibition by duo French artists Youri Cayron and Romain Rivalan. The exhibition, titled 'Let The Lonely Shells Dream', shows the effects of modernity and aggressive urbanization.

The installation features the many aspects of the work that Cayron and Rivalan have been developing over the last few years. The artists have spent their last few years of artistic effort exploring, studying and capturing the many facets of how architecture changes the space around humans. The artists confront the reality of their situation working together in close ranks with video, photography, and sound. Rendering the feelings, thoughts, and questions that the artists witnessed in person, RAW built together with the artists an exhibition that alters the perception of space inside the gallery by carefully designing and installing the different artworks of Cayron and Rivalan.

To better have an insight into the artistic and research process, RAW interviewed the duo, which answered together, explaining their practice.


RAW Streetphoto Gallery: Cayron’s background traces back to developing an artistic experimental research venue, while Rivalan’s background is rooted in the performing arts and photography. Coming from different artistic currents, how did you meet and how did you decide to work together?

Rivalan: It is not an art project that has led us to work together but rather a sincere friendship and a shared vision of society and human relationships. We met through common friends, simply over a drink, seven or eight years ago, at a bar with friends, in Marseille. We started to work together later. But, “work” was not the right word at that time. It was evident for both of us that we shared a precarious passion in common: we both had an eagerness to tell stories that matched with our distinguishable ideas about how we experienced life. We started to speak and make art, but it was more of a pretext, a way to define our lifestyle

Cayron: I remember Rivalan told me an anecdote in which he had boarded a train in Marseille passing through Toulouse, and he was astonished by a very small area just after Sète. Rivalan described with detail and emphasis his astonishment regarding the living circumstances of the people in that area. Entire families were camping in cars stocked between the sea, the road, and near the railway. As Rivalan went on with his story, we both noticed we shared a very peculiar way of thinking: confusion and curiosity about living under a metal roof on four wheels, and the ambiguity to acknowledge why the French law forced the drivers to park in this kind of area. After talking for hours over this, our opinions and views pushed us forward to turn on a rent Volkswagen T3 and drive for 8 days discovering the nature of living in camping cars between Le Grau du Roi and Narbonne. This was our first “formal” collaboration as artists.

RAW: Much of your artistic inspiration and production are made during your travellings abroad. How have you chosen your many destinations? And do you have any future ones planned?

C&R: The destinations of our first trip was not a coincidence. The purpose of our travel in Israel and Palestine was to address the issues of urbanism, architecture, and identities from a collective and individual point of view. We wanted to understand what was the place given to architecture, as a political object, in a territory disputed for over 70 years. Most of my travel choices are guided by my interest in understanding the links between urban planning, traditional architecture, and identities. For the future, we would like to go to Morocco and Algeria.

RAW: Do you remember your first artistic production as a duo?

C&R: As it was mentioned by Youri at the end of the first question, our first encounter consisted of meeting and relating to the life of the urban nomad, those who live in motorhomes all year constantly moving and changing. We titled this project “cul de sac à Ciel ouvert” [Cul de sac under the sky].

Also, the artistic purpose of this project touched upon the matter of land use and the meaning of searching for freedom. The more we dived into the topic the more we recognized that the lifestyle of the urban modern figure in search of freedom is a contradicting quest, limited by restrictive parking regulations. Thus, to what extent is experiencing freedom real?

RAW: Both of you are currently based in Marseille. Do you think that your French (and European) heritage plays an influential role in your art?

C&R: We are certainly, directly or indirectly influenced by our European artistic culture, which we cannot escape since it is part of our identity. Travelling is the key to emancipate the soul. Travelling deconstructs a part of your identity. The part that is coming from your culture, your family, your nation. Travelling is not an act of rejection or abandonment, but rather it is about becoming a member/citizen of the planet, and though this process one is capable to come closer to the core of humanity

RAW: Previously, during the opening of the exhibition, we referred to your art as experimental. I find the notion of experimenting fascinating, and would like to know how does the role of experimentation developed during the creation of your installation of Let the Lonely Shell Dream?

C&R: Our artistic process is linked to travelling, thus by default experimentation is incorporated into the artistic nature of creation. It is important to know that for us every exhibition we make -even if our subject might seem exhausted-, the aim must be to achieve entry into a space of experimentation. This space should not be exclusive to the artist, but also inclusive of our visitors.

The other important point is the multimedia approach and how we can still ask how photography and video speak together. It has been six or seven years since we met, and we are still testing, analyzing, and experimenting with our skills. This is part of the human process of development.

RAW Streetphoto Gallery: What role does RAW Streetphoto Gallery play on your journey as artists?

Romain: Our experience with Raw Streetphoto Gallery was a fundamental step in our journeys. It allowed us, under the artistic direction of Marth Von Loeben, to experiment and propose an immersive

exhibition in which the scenography is a key component. It is a great chance to have freedom of creation since the gallery trusted us and strongly supported us.

Youri: RAW gives us the chance to experiment with something new with the things we have collected during previous years. RAW is also a milestone to our development as professional artists...even I refuse deeply the idea of doing as a means for profit.

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