“How we need another soul to cling to, another body to keep us warm. To rest and trust; to give your soul in confidence: I need this, I need someone to pour myself into.”
Sylvia Plath, The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath
Bodies touch, souls cling, works & worlds collide. We are stuck together, glued to one another, whether we like it or not. Tongues and languages intertwine. Words come abruptly, one after the other. From concrete poetry to the need of another pidgin. Collé serré / Kolé séré, to hold one another tightly. A 1986 hit from Kassav’s, chosen before the passing this summer of Jacob Desvarieux, leader of this Guadeloupean band. A new version done a year later as the afterimage of this show, a duet between Jocelyne Béroard singing in Créole in the Paris Street and Philippe Lavil singing in French in les Antilles. Collages as words, sentences & languages, become their own private translators. Julien Creuzet’s poem is a gift, a text piece collaging Romanian, Portuguese, Polish, Dutch, Afrikaans, English and German.
Nicole Gravier is the starting point, with her seminal “post-conceptual warm works” spanning from 1976 to 1980, in which she uses the photo-novel genre to decrypt her own Mythes et Clichés. They are tender, powerful, and precise compositions that strike back against the eternal stereotypes of Love, Beauty, Success, Culture and Happiness. The images of Gravier holding the same phone that Jocelyne Béroard, Kassav’ lead singer holds in the Kolé séré video clip, convey the same old feelings of love and longing through the act of gluing the funny original fotoromanzi texts on her photographic mises en scène. Gravier’s work immediately reminded me of LA LOVE, Sarah Ortmeyer’s 2008 pieces in which one discovers the hidden, forgotten, imagined relationships between Barbra Streisand & Bobby Fischer, Nico & Andreas Baader, Glenn Gould & Thomas Bernhard, Queen Elizabeth II & Marcel Duchamp, just to name a few…
Now the 2021 iteration of DAVID and MONSTER comes into play; ancestral portraits of DAVID (Beckham), a series started in 2015, binder and pigment on the ever reflective silver paper with the player blushing, conversing with deformed ostrich and swan eggs (MONSTER) placed on the field as main protagonists. Sarah Ortmeyer’s works can be considered as collages. Collages or even still femmages: Martha Rosler’s, as a guardian figure, her Body Beautiful series that started in the sixties deals with the same ambivalent relationship to desire as the others, “the commodifications of women’s bodies” at center stage.
Not a far cry from Anthea Hamilton’s ongoing ManBlind series, which comes from a 1986 (same year as Kolé séré’s release) rare bible of a similar representation in men. In this iteration, we see only the head of a beautiful man -who exists outside of the productive world- resting on his hands when the movements of his body are unknown to us.
Behind this thin paper blind, one can see Gabriel Kuri’s tongues and holes III and untitled (tongue large) and (small). The only man in the exhibition and an artist that can reveal the sexual potential of a massive paper dispenser by rhyming this object with Caribbean Sea shells. “Their mouths ready waiting to be transgressed by the hand, the contact with the paper that creases subtly,” the suave kneeling of a stainless steel sculpture on a padding blanket topped by a muddied credit card chip saying: “The floor works rely on stacking, they have an obvious overlapping and vertical layering to them, this was one of the properties at the root of collage.” Whilst preparing the exhibition I stumbled upon a text about Cady Noland’s practice, “who based her aesthetics on treating ‘objects like objects’-pushing things without feelings brutally together.” The “collages” of this exhibition are all about “peau à peau”, the doctrine saying one must have skin-to-skin contact in the first hours of their life. As Jutta Koether puts in a letter regarding her last show in Cologne: “And such a body learns from other bodies. A picture learns from other pictures.”
I love to be there near you, so close a rock, so close on the porcelain tile, teëls, ons spore op die grond, ons sweet, vel tot vel. ons seebeweging, ons golfimpulse, sewe golwe, against our souls, against our weights in grace, in slow moving movement. Eu sei furar, apertar, a gente sabe, wie is jy, intiem, in ons, in jou in ons, sweef, my boei kok
wir bürsten, bürsten, Maulwurf, wir kommen näher, nah, ganz nah, rocken, unser Gewicht, unsere Haut, wir kleben, schälen, reiben, kleben wieder. glue tighten, to discover our air bubbles, to melt, to split, to melt with tenderness. Ik weet het, plak, draai vast, we weten het
Wiem, trzymaj, zaciskaj, wiemy, mit unseren Schweißausbrüchen, unseren Essenzen halten wir zusammen, klebrig, together, pretty round, let’s celebrate the freedom of body shapes, liberating gesture, my body forms worker ants, klebrig, wir ziehen uns zusammen. zu eng
Komm zu mir von deinem Körper, zu sein, Știu, lipiți, strângeți, știm, deine ganze Seelenkanzel, kommt zu einem Lebensraum, of the land of sex, of the land of sugar, of the land of pearl, of blues enjoyment, nah zu mir Wärme, lass uns einen Festtanz wiederbeleben (…)
Julien Creuzet, 2021