Richard DeDomenici graduated with a first-class degree in Fine Art from Cardiff School of Art in 2001. Final-year projects included Postal, which comprised sending unwrapped banknotes to himself to test the security of the postal system, and Well Rounded Individual which involved riding around the Circle Line for 43 hours during the Queen’s Golden Jubilee.
Richard’s first post-graduate project involved the blowing up of balloons inside a public telephone box until there was no room to blow up balloons anymore. The performance, entitled Party of One, was a protest against BT's decision to stop expanding its phone box network and was selected for the National Review of Live Art in Glasgow.
To live-art promoters Party of One was a low-cost, high-visibility work, guaranteed to attract attention. As such, Richard was asked to blow up balloons in telephone boxes extensively around the UK. These performances contributed to Richard's nomination for Best New Artist in Anglia Television’s Six of The Best Awards 2002, which, despite voting for himself several hundred times, he failed to win. He was, however, interviewed by Andrew Linford, who used to play Tiffany’s gay brother Simon in Eastenders, which meant more to Richard than £10,000 in prize money ever could.
Buoyed by the nomination, Richard attempted a series of increasingly ambitious projects, including an endeavour to turn coal into diamonds for the Wellcome Trust, which failed; seeking to train the guns of HMS Belfast onto his mother’s house in Watford, which failed; and trying to design an interface to enable cows to access the internet for the Arnolfini in Bristol, which failed. His experiences inspired the inexplicably popular touring lecture Embracing Failure.
Paradoxically, the unforeseen success of Embracing Failure undermined the lecture's central premise, thus destroying its essential currency. Hence, work began to build a replacement lecture, Did Priya Pathak Ever Get Her Wallet Back?, which concerned Richard’s complex relationship with the police. The show ran at the 2006 Edinburgh Fringe, and during one performance, only two audience members showed up, both of whom Richard knew. He was quick to add this anecdote to his Embracing Failure lecture.
In 2007 Richard gave up flying for 18 months, a move designed to save the world, he claims, and not, as others have surmised, to avoid the international uproar generated by his televised project to create an Asylum Seeker Boyband. 2008 commissions included a residency at a former nuclear airbase, a 10-week education project with London teenagers, and a study into the feasibility of building a new tube line funded by the cancellation of the 2012 Olympics.
Richard DeDomenici spent the first part of 2009 in residency at the exhibition Embedded Art – Art in the Name of Security at Akademie der Künste Berlin. In May he documented the UK tour of the New York anti-capitalist activist Reverend Billy; In June he opened a café/art installation in London which sold only airplane food; And in July DeDomenici curated the second Rub Me Up the Wrong Way, a live art micro-biennale which still haunts the dreams of the dwellers of Norwich. 2009 also saw the official launch of DeDomenici's new Edinburgh lecture Plagiarismo!, and he rounded off the year with a collaborative application for half a million pounds of Olympic funding, which failed.
So far 2010 has seen site-specific work at the National Review off Live Art, plus new commissions from Junction Cambridge, La Bellone Brussels and Arches Glasgow. DeDomenici will tour his Plane Food Café to the Napoli Teatro Festival in June, perform at Latitude Festival in July, lead a performance workshop in Iceland in August, and launch a new Edinburgh show setin a Pop-Up Nomadic/Boutique Autonomous Microvenue (PUNBAM).
'It's shaping up to be an exciting year; 2011 will probably be rubbish by comparison', DeDomenici warns. 'I shall probably just stay in and compile a monograph charting the first 10 years of my practice, if any publishers are reading'.
‘Richard DeDomenici is one of the most fascinating artists to have emerged from the British performance art scene in the past decade. DeDomenici is an excellent example of the best that live art has to offer. Clever, tremendously funny, powerfully political and unafraid to be accessible.’ Mark Brown, Sunday Herald
‘DeDomenici is one of the most intellectually gifted, imaginative and dedicated performance artists in the UK today.’ Mary Brennan, Herald
'Richard DeDomenici is a performance artist whose artwork is cerebral, accessible and subversive.’ David Stevenson, The List
‘One of the most creative artists of the moment.’ Glasgow Diary
‘Turning what we think we know on its head.’ Arena