Text written on the occasion of the exhibition of Bertrand Dezoteux, Olivier Passieux and Benoît Pingeot at the Galerie Bernard Jordan, Paris, February 2021. [Picture of the text on the start page: Locus Solus by Raymond Roussel, 1914.]
A Radical Balm
A variable-geometry assembly discusses around a fountain. There are also three dogs, a photocopier and a cauldron, two broken smartphones, a freshly-ironed European flag and a pile of mops in the shape of a small volcano.
Do you observe the world around you?
Recently, yes. Ten years ago, I couldn’t have. It was too much. I first had to make myself the explorer of the imaginary worlds I had created in order to have the strength and the desire to look at what we call reality.
But isn’t reality precisely what resists, what is elusive?
It has often resisted me. Or I resisted it. It’s hard to know. Today, I feel quietly welcomed. A trust has been established between me and this reality. As soon as other actors get involved, the scenario differs. I tend to stay crazy, to become a teenager.
It’s because it resists that we absolutely try to produce an image of it, but an image that is equal to the contradictions and discontinuities that give substance to it negatively. Concentrated heterogeneity. Yet one that doesn’t hurt too much, that can even soothe : A radical balm.
The real is a plurality of worlds. There are as many worlds as there are species. Nevertheless, I believe in the possibility of travelling from one world to another. Besides, viruses have fun there. Zo-o-nosis.
In the end, it is up to all of us to interpret the traces. We must conduct the investigation. Sometimes even without knowing what the motives are.
We know the motives perfectly well. This survey is mainly motivated by the search for the right form. The power of form. Knowing how to welcome it in a movement of active passivity. We come back to the romantic’s welcoming. To welcome, to be welcomed.
Hospitality. It’s a very fashionable word! Let’s also think about adversity. I love it when Jean-Luc Godard says that he wants to have the epitaph « On the contrary » inscribed on his grave.
He also tells how the sight of a dead sparrow moves him to tears, while the death of Agnès Varda hardly moves him. If there is sadness, it is not spectacular.
A PASSER-BY (A LADY)
With the elocution of a sleepwalker.
The death of friends, fellow travelers, sisters and brothers is in the order of things. The death of a sparrow with which it is difficult to converse shakes you.
It shakes you because it comes from another world. It is up to us to make this world ours. Or to invent the one where everything converges.
What about your « real »? Did you forget it? Did you give up already?
Hey you, anarchist! What do you propose? The death of the State? The death of God? Aristocracy for all and sundry? Look at you! How do you live? What is your world where everything converges? Real? Imaginary? Full of ideology?
It seems to me that it is my duty to answer in the place of my comrade. We do not need institutions to address the Transcendental authorities.
Coming out of left field, very loud, on the phone.
From the point of view of the science of science, humanity is a spasm of the being and we are at the end on the line anyway. (He lets his interlocutor speak.) Yes, that’s it. Lascaux, -19 000, -17 000 ; Chauvet -37 000, – 33 500. (He lets his interlocutor speak again.) I already gave you my diagnosis last week! From psychoanalysis to post-structuralism to de-colonial thinkers, everyone agrees. (Hesitation.) Sorry? (The interlocutor’s voice is getting louder and louder, more excited.) (The Metaphysician answers calmly.) We are stuck in time bubbles and we don’t know that we are, perhaps, all dead already.
But seriously, back to business and stop listening to the truncated conversations of strangers who pass by and have the misfortune of making their meditations public. In French – you know that I am French – we say for that: « let’s go back to our sheep ». The shepherd, the oldest political metaphor.
Oh no, stop it! I hate the Little Prince! This is shit in a box that pretends to smell like roses, from the desert. And then this ecological touch of watercolor. I like it fat and heavy. Rather than breathing, suffocating. Art is neither a breath of fresh air nor a journey into the imagination. Let’s go back to the point: the perfect gesture, even in its imperfections, and especially in its imperfections, the perfect gesture each artist dreams of, sharp and all wound up.
Let me do the talking! I firmly believe in immediacy, in horizontality. Then suddenly, verticality, without mediation. Like a rising sword. Believing in spontaneous organization, be it of the painting or of the society, is vital. Let luck happen too. It’s terrible to say, but an authority always emerges in the end. As naturally. As if by chance. Should we accept it? Should we fight it? Remedies? The right form? Is that what it is? (Speaking more directly to the Mystic, with delicacy all of the sudden.) Tell me, dear friend, what exactly do you mean by « welcoming it in a movement of active passivity »? That interests me. And you wanted to answer for me.
A PASSER-BY (A LADY)
Where are the women?
Oh dear, we’re not going to make it. Long live the ogres! Long live the monsters! We the dummies, the big balls and the ball lickers! Boo!
The Passer-by leaves by shrugging her shoulders. (It is not impossible that she comes back with a whole armada of activists.)
A little loud so that the Passer-by can hear.
Forgive him, sister! This prankster satire can’t resist wielding the supreme weapon of the romantics, at the risk of losing its substance, bleeding like an animal sent to the slaughterhouse.
Turning to the Romantic.
My subject matter is neither sororal nor fraternal, it goes beyond gender, it goes beyond sex, it goes beyond any difference. It is firmly anchored in the body, but differently. It welcomes a spiritual force, a breath, a word. It gluttons, it forgives. Let’s not forget what Luke and Matthew told us, Jesus is a glutton, Jesus is a drunkard. Paint the shadow of the spirit and say the flesh of the body. To re-breath the living where it is dead.
(October 2020 – January 2021)