Born in 1950, lives and works in Dublin.

Nigel Rolfe has been active as a performance artist since the 1970s, more recently moving into photography and video, though nearly always trading in images relating to his performance work, or to specific objects used in his performances. He has developed an international reputation over the last 30 years for his careful execution of aesthetic gesture through the interaction between his body and the material world. Rolfe’s work encompasses many media that include sound and audio production, video and photography. His primary reputation for the past thirty years is working live, making performances throughout Europe, and the former Eastern Block, North America and Japan. He has participated in the Biennales of Kwangju in 1997 and Sao Paulo in 1998. His retrospective exhibition Archive was shown at the Irish Museum of Modern Art in 1994, and Nigel Rolfe Videos 1983 – 1996 was exhibited as an installed retrospective at The Musee d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris in 1996.

He is Professor in Fine Art at the Royal College of Art in London, and Senior Visiting Critic to postgraduate fine art courses in the United States and Europe. In the 1980s and 90s he worked with the pan-European group Black Market International.

Since the late 1990s he has made solo performances in Ireland at the National Sculpture Factory in Cork in 1998, the Cork Film Centre in 2002, The Church Gallery, Limerick in 2003 and Mount Shannon, Co. Clare in 2004 both as part of the Irish Museum of Modern Art’s National programme.


doing and being


find only what is essential to do

that the work is about something and not just itself

seek always an interior life,what lies underneath

excavation,digging,turning ground over

not what you can do but what you must

make this doing conversation between you and yourself

this is the primary route if others are watching

or not watching

the sense of live for me

carries some risk

that processes may and can change

right there in the moment

make plans in your head but be prepared to truly abandon

in an instant, this is not improvisation though but instinct

rehearsal is redundant

repetition may be productive

rounds and unseen rhythms are inherent

everything is important and consequent

then not

entry and exit, timing and correspondence

the materials used, the body and belief

the space and place both architectural and political

there are no bad space and no good space either

speed and slowness

what you wear or don't

be very very present and at the same time somehow not

you are freezing images in time,

powerful pictures will be remembered

Nigel Rolfe. Water in Face.