Sophie Langohr, Jacques Lizène et Marie Zolamian participent à l’exposition « De Vous à Moi », exposition sur la thématique du portrait . Au travers des collections de la Province de Liège ou sur des invitations faites à des artistes résidant dans la dite province.
Galerie de Wégimont
Domaine provincial de Wégimont
Du 11 novembre au 17 décembre
Les employés du STP vous remettent leur bonjour, 1971
photographie NB, 25 x 35 cm
Sculpture horizontale, 1970
plans et photographies couleurs, 200 x 75 cm (x2) et 140 x 75 cm (x2)
Paysages professionnels, 1970
photographies NB et texte imprimé, 70 clichés, 9 panneaux, (9) x 50 x 60 cm
Papiers de protection de table, 1972
bandes de papier de protection utilisés pendant un an par les dessinateurs du STP, (4) x 30 x 40 cm
End of the sixties and beginning of the seventies, one of the fundamental practices of Jacques Charlier consists in pulling from their context a bunch of professional documents of the Provincial Technical Service (S.T.P.), where he is employed as an expeditionary drawer, and to distil them in the artistic field, to “present” them. Some of those documents said to be “essentially professional” are well known, this photographic documentation made by A. Bertrand, employed by the S.T.P., documents destined to the elaboration of road improvement projects, dewatering, waterways normalization, industrial zoning implantation, etc. But those are not the only documents Charlier extracts from their context. There are also the ones he names the “relational documents in relation with the professional universe”, documents bearing witness to, for example, a retirement, or a group trip to Antwerp offered by the solidarity fund of the Service.
We could store these with the “professional signatures”, a sequence of volumes regrouping the attendance sheets of the office staff (from 8h to 16h45) starting from February 68 and that Charlier presents in various artistic contexts, contexts in which the signature is precisely cultivated, although it’s the signature of the Artist, or even his famous pen dryers, these pieces of fabric of various sizes whose first function was to dry the graphos pens of the drawers of the Service. Jacques Charlier will hang these pen dryers in tight rows through various exhibitions, among others the Bruges’ triennial in 1974, in collaboration with Yves Gevaert or, a few months later, at the Oxford museum in collaboration with Nick Serota.
About these pen dryers, since then acquired by the museum of contemporary art in Gent, Gilbert Lascault, professor of art philosophy at la Sorbonne, wrote in 1983: “At about the same time, Jacques Charlier (who defines himself as a presenter of documents) presents rags in cultural centres: the pieces of fabric of various dimensions that were used to dry drawing pens. Those are canvas on which appear blotches. They can evoke non-figurative researches. They can remind the desire some artists have these days of collaborating with chance. They are presented without frames, not stretched, “pinned to the wall in a single point at the height of the drawing tables”: nothing keeps the specialists of art from seeing a thought (close to other artistic thoughts) in the frameless canvas… Jacques Charlier can’t forbid this way of reading them. However he always insists on the origin of these pieces of canvas: they are rags, used professionally, extracted from a very precise context, taken away from a technical service whose function is defined.
A conversation recorded between employees from the S.T.P. accompanies the exhibition of the rags. One of the employees asks: “Can we find this beautiful while knowing where it comes from?” It’s certain Jacques Charlier hopes the insistence on the origin of what he shows suppresses the seduction. Indicating the origin of the pictures and objects shown should, he thinks, “unexalt” them. But maybe he’s wrong on that score.
So Jacques Charlier extracts these rags from the S.T.P.; he does the same with their inevitable corollary, usual in this kind of professional environment: the blotter papers. Or instead, if we want to be more accurate as to the original function of these objects: “the protective papers of the drawing tables of the S.T.P.”, that he pulls away from their context in September 72. Charlier cuts them somewhat in A4 sizes and, to affirm their origin and their primary function, places on them a strip of text typed with a typewriter, a note identifying the object and the date of the excerpt. This identification is very important since, like the pen dryers, these papers are the backing of these same “non-figurative researches”, these blotches, strokes of pen, coffee stains, quickly written additions of measures, a few scribbled notes taken as reminders. All of this has the feel of tachism, of automatic writing, a lyrical abstraction contained, randomly, until exhaustion of the pattern, withdrawal of the figure, in short papers to be classified in a graphic department. Or this is all part of daily labours, hours and hours spent bent on the drawing table, the drawing that underlies road and piping maps. And in the fact of Charlier, a backward practice going against artistic appropriation, a query of the sociological neutrality of the object, a social perspective, the exact opposite of any illusionist’s trick. (JMB)
Paysages professionnels, 1963-68
photographies NB et certificat, (4) x 50 x 60 cm
Those seventy black and white shots are documents born of a determined social-professional milieu embedded in an artistic context, accompanied by their certificate of origin by Jacques Charlier, expeditionary drawer at the Service Technique de la Province de Liège (S.T.P.; Provincial Technical Service of Liège) between 1957 and 1978. Jacques Charlier calls them “Paysages Professionnels” (Professional Landscapes). Assembled nine by nine in eight panels, they are supported by a certificate written on the letterhead of the Provincial Administration. Charlier confirms that these photographies he pulls away from their context since 1964 have been part of the documentation of the project offices of the Provincial Technical Service and that they’ve been made by André Bertrand, chief data-processor of the Service. A photography of the building in which the Service and the transcript of an interview between Jacques Charlier and his colleagues, three pages of a tight typescript, complete the certificate. These photographs are absolutely not auratic and are in no way spectacular. They are only documents destined to the elaboration of projects of road improvement, waterways normalization or industrial zoning implantation, crude shots, a banal recording showing the reality of public works and other industrial wastelands. Even by their “presenter”’s words, they mean a complete expulsion of every traditional framing notion and even of a systematic “incomposition”. In the beginning, this interview between Jacques, André, Joseph, Claude and the others who accompany these shots is published in November 1970 in MTL Magazine, at the moment when Charlier presents, for the first time in an exhibition, a large selection of these landscapes, invited to do so by Fernand Spillemaeckers, owner of the MTL gallery in Brussels. Jacques Charlier, already a fan of shock effects, titles it Les coins enchanteurs (The enchanting places). Enchantment, indeed, is absent. Already an ironic disenchantment transpires, characteristic of all the works of the artist from Liège, an activist who practices, as he says, “without exaltation”.
Jacques Charlier begins his collection of professional documents in 1964. “I make friends with the office equipment operator and the photographer, whom I get to know since for whole days I made blueprints of roads, plans measuring six to seven meters long. I discover in the trash of the office equipment operating service some small pictures of a beet field. Those are perfectly banal pictures destined to illustrate the Service’s reports. What fascinates me is their brutal, unsightly aspect.” Making a list of his activities at the S.T.P., Charlier will point out that André Bertrand’s photographs have been pulled away from their context as soon as July 64. Jacques Charlier considers this gesture to be the foundation of a research that will quickly become more precise, the one now called “of the S.T.P.”, to which we will associate his “Blocs” paintings, his works on the piping or of course the establishing of his Absolute Zone.
Self-educated, cannibalizing every information on art and its world, observer of the transatlantic flux — Pop Art is already well in place and soon the New York conceptual art will barge in Europe —, Charlier applied at the Provincial Technical Service in order to escape the factory. He becomes a drawer for public works projects while reading the works of Franz Kafka, by day working in an insurance company for work accidents in the kingdom of Bohemia and writer by night. Charlier, slightly romantic, identifies with this duality. He socializes with Marcel Broodthaers, with whom he made friends; both men share the same worries. “When Pop Art and New Realism barged home, he says, we were wondering how we could affirm our identity in relation to this American steamroller. How to do it also in relation with Pierre Restany and his French New Realists. Where could we find our place? More or less, I was considering Pop Art to be the result of considering publicity as a found object and to literally throw it in the artistic field after imbuing it with some aesthetic alterations. Warhol uses press pictures, Rosenquist publicity, Rauschenberg uses Schwitters’ Merzbau and set it in the American landscape. With Wahrol, all publicity is monopolized as a found object. Everything becomes found image, unvulgarized, crossed, culturalized”. In answer to American Pop Art, but also to the French New Realists, to the torn poster slices of Villeglé, the meal remains stuck by Spoerri, Arman’s buildups, this vast and systematic appropriation of the world, Jacques Charlier picks out of the trash of the office equipment department of the S.T.P. these few shots of beet fields, and decides to thus appropriate his own social and social-professional realities, to introduce them in the context of art, to sign them and to make a critical engine out of them. For Jaques Charlier, artwork has always been a Trojan horse.
Not even claiming to be part of Duchamp’s ready-made, Jacques Charlier simply declares himself “presenter” of those found documents whose origin he claims through protocol or certificates. He designates them, affirms their first function, confirms their attribution to their original signatories. In fact, by insisting on the ownership of these documents by his professional milieu, Charlier takes at the same time the opposite position of artistic appropriation while playing its game. He signs the work, or at least the presentation in an artistic context of those pictures and found objects, while clearly disclosing the manipulations of appropriation. The certificate of these Professional Landscapes attests it: it’s at the same time signed by Jacques Charlier and André Bertrand. Thus he sets his finger on what he will finally call the pompous art of the century, this principle of appropriation of any object, converted into an art form, an appropriation he qualifies of quasi-religious, that he considers to be a true transubstantiation, where any simple breath of air can become godly, resurrected, saved from the apocalypse and become, by the grace of this theology of art and the intervention of its preachers, a redemptive object destined to collectors. Charlier affirms it: “Telling that the object is only itself and nothing else is like still believing in miracles”.
The method will first be to “present” them to the actors of the world of art. Expeditionary drawer, Charlier goes for an expedition, his photos under the arm. He shows them to, among other people, Michaël Sonnabend. Admittedly, the artist looks for a place where he can exhibit them; notwithstanding, here are the Professional Landscapes already introduced in the artistic field, since shown to some of its actors. We can’t help but think of the driving principle of André Cadere’s wanderings: “the work is exhibited where it is seen”. They will finally hang, exhibited for the first time in 1970 at the MTL gallery in Brussels, then at the museum of Antwerp (1971) during Bruges’ second Triennial (1971), under invitation from Anka Ptazkowska at the Galerie 18, in Paris (1974), afterwards at the Vereniging voor het Museum voor Hedendaags Kunst in Gent and at the Museum Boymans Van Beuningen in Rotterdam (1981).
These Professional Landscapes are a single aspect of this documents collection. Charlier, very quickly, distinguishes between specifically professional documents and documents about friendship in the staff. Little by little, he pulls from their context prints, letters, communications, pen dryers, blotter papers and table papers, presence signature lists (entrance at 8h00, exit at 16h45), blueprints of his own road plans, souvenir documents about important events of professional life, like a goodbye party, Mr. Merciny’s retirement, or Mr. Herman and Mr. Tennet, a group trip to Antwerp organized by S.T.P.’s solidarity fund. It’s finally the entire S.T.P. that seems to become a found object. The word “seems” is the important one. Jacques Charlier writes it in a tract signed in 1973: “The experience comments backward this aesthetic-sociological current that, under the guise and the aura of the artistic signature, has simulated a vertigo of reality. As if from the things surrounding us, we could erase the meaning, the hierarchy, the origin of the objects”. I think again of Harald Szeemann who, speaking of his exhibition Grand Père, un aventurier comme vous et moi (Grand Pa, an adventurer like you and I), has written in 1974: “We don’t even discuss the thing any more, we discuss the frame that has, anyway, become perfectly boring: to fight for artistic reality is a fake fight, because we’re laughed at by the consensus beyond any controversy, or else it becomes a political fight, which is also a fake fight. Where then does the real rejection exist, the real enthusiasm, the bewitchment?”
While he extract from the S.T.P.’s technical documents a sequence of printed pictures of piping public works, Jacques Charlier writes, in the protocol accompanying this reflection about his purpose: “Their enigmatic character, he writes, can not only rival some contemporary plastic researches, but surpass them through their tremendous expressive ability. But this is something no one will ever tell, or maybe too late. So it is today with art, turning to its profit under the guise of esoteric creation the reality of work, unbearable for the dominant cultural minority” The Professional Landscapes wonders at these relationships with appropriation and estrangement. As a corollary, they also evoke anonymity. These landscape photographs are in fact poor and minimal; we could find similarities between number of them and Land Art or some minimalistic practices. Robert Smithson, Walter De Maria, Richard Long, Carl Andre are in fact not far; maybe, but here, the pictures have been taken by André Bertrand focused on his professional occupations and far from those of the artists. Their presentation is part of a completely conceptual frame, documentary inventory and certified protocol supporting it. Chameleon of the style and perfectly aware of the artistic practices of the time, Charlier therefore gets comfortable with the rules of art and its actuality in a time when grassroots, the streets and the banality of reality strongly imprint on the minds. Some have linked André Bertrand’s photographs and the great work developed then by Bernd and Hilla Becher, a windfall of sort for Charlier who challenges the title of “anonymous sculpture” given by the German photographs to their industrial typology. And Charlier makes a fuss about it: “Yes, those are industrial tools made by ground workers, conceived by engineers, used by workers, owned by bosses, every single one of them has a name” All of this, for Jacques Charlier, is far from anonymous. It’s a testimony to the reality of work, it’s already signed. At the heart of this apparatus staged by the artist, Charlier naturally points at a social reality, a sociological reality. Undoubtedly the collection of landscapes also has a documentary value on the evolution of regional landscape, but that’s only a side effect of the purpose of the artist. Exactly as in the Photographies de Vernissages (1974-75) that, today, have acquired a documentary value regarding “who is who?” in the public of the exhibitions.
In fact, we could nearly paraphrase Harald Szemmann and subtitle the Professional Landscapes: “Jean Mossoux, Pierre Chaumont, André Bertrand, Jacques Laruelle, adventurers like you and I”. Their commentaries on the Enchanting places of the province of Liège are part of the works by themselves, starting with their own. Let’s revisit the situation. It would be like the prequel to another individual mythology, a collective mythology by proxy. After all, Jacques Charlier claimed to be the Director of the Absolute Zones the way others became Curator of the Eagles Department or flying Russian general on the Pan American Airlines and Company.
 The Smak in Gent, the M Museum in Leuven and the BPS22-collection of the Hainaut Province in Charleroi keep various series of Paysages Professionnels. Jacques Charlier, Dans les règles de l’art, Lebeer-Hossmann, Brussels, 1983.Dans Les règles de l’art, opus cit. Recently, during an exhibition on the Belgian landscapes, these Professional Landscapes have been part of the catalogue under the double date of 1964-1971. The date of 1971 is a mistake. It’s in 1970 that they were shown in an exhibition for the first time. The date of 1964 only represents the beginning of the adventure.Jean-Michel Botquin, Zone Absolue, une exposition de Jacques Charlier in 1970, l’Usine à Stars edition, 2007Dans les règles de l’Art, op.cit Harald Szeemann, Ecrire les expositions, La Lettre Volée, Brussels, 1996 In the protocol certificate of Canalisations Souterraines, 1969.
Jacques Charlier, Jacques Lizène, Pol Pierart, Marie Zolamian participent tous les quatre à la carte blanche offerte à Françoise Safin par le Centre wallon d’Art contemporain – La Châtaigneraie à Flémalle
Marie Zolamian, Charpie, 2017
Vernissage le vendredi 10 novembre 2017, à 18:30 à La Châtaigneraie, Flémalle
Exposition du 12 novembre au 15 décembre 2017
avec des oeuvres de : Marc Angeli – Michel Boulanger – Sylvie Canonne – Jacques Charlier – Patrick Corillon – Alexia Creusen – Michael Dans – Gerald Dederen – André Delalleau – Catherine De Launoit – Eric Deprez – Emmanuel Dundic – Benoit Félix – Daniel Fourneau – Florence Fréson – Bernard Gaube – Pierre Gerard – Anne-Marie Klenes – Jacky Lecouturier – Michel Leonardi – Jacques Lizène – Paul Mahoux – Jean-Georges Massart – Johan Muyle – Olivier Pé – Pierre Pétry – José Picon – Pol Pierart – Jean-Pierre Ransonnet – Pascale Rouffart – Juliette Rousseff – Francis Schmetz – Guy Vandeloise – Cécile Vandresse – Dan Van Severen – Bernard Villers – Marie Zolamian…
Né à Liège en 1939, Jacques Charlier est un plasticien dont la démarche est sous-tendue par une analyse approfondie du monde de l’art et des différents courants dits «avant-gardistes». Privilégiant l’adéquation entre idée et médium, il choisit tour à tour la peinture, la photographie, la vidéo, la musique, la sculpture, l’installation, la BD ou l’écriture. Au fil du temps, ses expositions, ses chroniques d’expositions, billets d’humeur et autres textes critiques régulièrement publiés composent un ensemble soulignant et caricaturant les atouts, les contradictions et les régressions des courants artistiques dominants à l’échelle internationale. Depuis toujours, il réalise ce dont Warhol avait la nostalgie sans l’appliquer : Comment peut on dire qu’un style est meilleur qu’un autre On devrait pouvoir être expressionniste abstrait quand ça nous chante, ou pop, ou réaliste, sans avoir l’impression d’abandonner quelque chose.*
Les œuvres montrées à Aperto sont extraites des dernières séries de styles abordées par Charlier (de 2012 à 2017). Elles sont uniquement picturales.
En parallèle avec l’exposition à la Panacée. Jusqu’au 4 novembre.
Zone Absolue, 1969-70
photographie NB, impression sur toile, 100 x 120 cm
Zone Absolue, 1970
photographies NB et autocollant, 60 x 70 cm
Zone Absolue, 1969
Zone Absolue 1970
Photographies NB et autocollants, (9) x 54,5 x 47 cm
Zone Absolue, 1969
photographies NB et autocollant, 50 x 40 cm
Tableau béton, 1968
photographie NB impression sur toile, 100 x 120 cm
(…) – Let’s just say that in these days, I try to paint in every style, for every time I have an idea, I try to go about it in the style best suited for it. I have to admit that the hardest part of my work, the professional photographs, doesn’t make it. Marcel Broodthaers, to whom I show them, doesn’t really encourage me; he claims it’s very hard. Sonnabend just doesn’t want to hear about it. The reason is simple: there is no intervention from the artist in those works. Despite the fact I had such a great, well substantiated theory to explain that those photographs were the absolute opposite of the found object, the critics didn’t care. I had already plotted my Absolute Zone plan, some sort of urbanization full of concrete, some sort of satire of urbanization. The strong point, for me, was the highway project that was supposed to go through Liège, the senseless scale models made by “urbanization believers” and that they show to the public, this urban delirium. I show the plan to Marcel Broodthaers, who looks at me as if I had fallen on my head, and very realistically advises me to make a series of tableaux on the theme of concrete instead. He even promises to find me a buyer. I therefore find a nice block of concrete in a technical journal and I paint on fifteen or so canvas of every size blocks of concrete in every position. Yvan Lechien, who held the Cogeime gallery in Brussels, sees them and, surprise, buys them.
– It’s the “Blocks” exhibition in 1969 in Brussels?
– Yvan Lechien exhibits my tableaux, moreover selling most of them. It was a surprise. Broodthaers takes advantage of it to introduce me to a few Brussels based avant-garde spirits, Marie-Jeanne and Jean Dypréau, Fernande and Jacques Meuris, Marcel Stael, Jean Ley, Isy Fiszman, Nicole and Herman Daled, Jean-Pierre Van Thiegem, Denise and Karel Gerilandt, Betty Barman… following this exhibition, I tried to convince Yvan Lechien to go farther and create an Absolute Zone since he had already shown the propaganda paintings of that concrete universe that’s invading us. I, for myself, draw pipelines; Yvan Lechien shows a little more interest for this work, but Absolute Zone is a no go.
– You have accompanied this plan, drawn in 1968, by a kind of founding text that will be published in 1983 attached to the book “Dans les règles de l’Art”, a text whose title was “What is the concrete-urbanization of a city? How to realize it?”. In that text, you propose to “solve in a savage and extreme way the problems of housing and traffic in the cities”. There is a number of methodological recommendations: the psychological conditioning of the average citizen, the use of evening classes on how to mix concrete, the overall mobilization of the entrepreneurs. You add a description of the tasks: systematically filling the sewers and pipelines, pouring concrete on historical monuments and folk statues, building barricades made out of concrete on the road accesses to the city and, finally, concreting the city. It’s perfectly delirious. In addition, you institute yourself as Director of the operation and create a Research Committee on Absolute Zones’ establishment.
– Absolutely, I declare myself Director of the Absolute Zones. It’s the time of poetic appropriations. Marcel Broodthaers will soon afterwards become Curator of the Musée des Aigles, Filiou takes care of his Poïpoïdrome, Ben creates his gallery, Panamarenko moves around wearing his military uniforms, and let’s not talk about Beuys or his office in Düsseldorf. I, however, only became Director of the Absolute Zones as part of this work. During the 70s, I did it again, instituting myself as the Director of the C.I.D.A.C., a centre devoted to the dangers and the toxicity of art, a detoxification structure copied on Alcoholics Anonymous. How does someone get detoxified from art and from the addiction to creation? In fact, another inverted satire. Inventing such a role means creating for yourself an underground world, parallel to reality, reaching a pseudo-legitimacy.
– This project of Absolute Zone, what is it, beyond this delirious fiction of the all concrete. How do you see it?
– Reading this situationist, anarchist literature, everything I receive by mail ends up calling to me through its artistic side and its meaning through time. I end up wondering if we shouldn’t reconnect with a form of collective art, with extremely simple things that can make us think about the world, like some sort of symbolic criticism.
I look at this urban inrush with a very critical eye, but at the same time, I do the same with some ecological ideologies advocating nature every time they can, a return to primary agriculture, the “all natural”, a fantasy fashionable at the end of the 60s. I’m therefore seeking to create an object that would be like a symbolic and critical picture of those two extremes. I envision this: let’s put a slab of concrete, which is the transposition of my professional universe, those slabs of concrete making the roads and the works of art. It’s the A zone, like a piece of road. Besides it, let’s demarcate a piece the same size of agricultural zone, with good ground. It’s the B zone. On D day, the day of inauguration, we invite the public to come plant in the B zone, anarchically but under notary convention, vegetables as well as trees or flowers. The protocol I imagine is the following: those two zones will coexist as a sculpture. Through the years, the concrete will suffer the ravages of time. And the natural zone will grab its territory anarchically, because it is stipulated, to heighten this naturalistic and nostalgic fantasy, that the hand of man will not domesticate, will not negotiate this Absolute Zone. It will stay absolutely natural in its progressive entanglement. Both fantasies will therefore last side by side.
The Absolute Zone is like twin zygotes. They always have the same size, but their materials are totally antagonistic. Like with fraternal twins; they are totally identical and totally different. We always have some sort of fascination for the double. Warhol understood it, Magritte before him too. This fascination with twins have always existed, from Rome’s foundation to the destruction of the WTC towers. On one of Total’s covers, I drew two angels, “Total’s energetic”; they are copies each one of the other. It’s the monozygotic universe that can reflect only itself, indulging like Narcissus facing its physical double.
– Was it a way to imagine environmental art, land art or minimalism in a critical fashion? A minimal concrete slab in a landscape, would it be like environmental art?
– There is also in nature a space for critical thinking. I knew all the positions of Land Art then. In fact, like a lot of people, I knew them through the photographic renderings made of them, those clean photographs of Land Art works people placed in art galleries. You have to admit people very seldom take a walk where those works are conceived; those photographs telling their tales end up into collectors hands: they are like a new school of Barbizon. I find this type of sculpture and investigation interesting both from the plastic and art history point of views, but I feel no evocation of critical thought, nor political point of view. To propose an Absolute Zone in the urban universe, to do as if it was a section of road, to juxtapose to it this vegetal area that will stay raw, but created by the people, this becomes a collective gesture, all of this inducting an area of intention that’s not purely aesthetic, but it also criticizes the times in which we live. It was, somehow, a fracture with what was happening in the galleries; it was also a direct take on my professional universe. There was some kind of a blending. People often blamed me then for having no unity of style in my works, for using varied mediums, for being at the same time involved in the system of art and away from it, as if I was running in circles around it. I had — and the paradigm of that idea will nonetheless slowly appear to the eyes of some people — the intent of criticizing art, like I had the intent of criticizing urbanization and the delirious fantasies it was then possessed of. I had the same intent to criticize ideologies, facing the effects of those mainstream truths, including those of this burghers’ pseudo-revolution. I repeat it, even though I found some good ideas in the movement of 68, I was shocked by those revolutionary daddy’s boys invading the factories and the working class they didn’t know anything about. I was the son of a worker, I had to draw road projects to live. I picketed during the strikes of the 60s.
– In march 1968, you wrote a short text perfectly illustrating those words, a text destined to accompany a series of pictures. I quote you: “This series of press clipping has been taken from public works journals that reached the S.T.P. of Liège. Those press pictures are somehow professional publicity shots, boasting about the merits of drain technology. Their enigmatic character can not only rival with a few contemporary plastic researches, but surpass them through their tremendous expressive capabilities. But this is something no one will ever say, or maybe they will but too late. Thus today’s art, under the guise of esoteric creation, distracts for its own purpose the reality of work, unbearable to the dominant cultural minority”.
– This photo series has been made into a slide show to be projected over the super 8 film “underground pipelines” at the Absolute Zone exhibition. Yes, those pipelines are the fruit of the labour. At that time, I’ve been flabbergasted by Bernd and Hilla Becher’s positions, among others. I’m thinking of a text from Carl André written on their “anonymous sculptures”. This proclaimed anonymity mocks the social reality of the objects photographed.
– Let’s get to the exhibition itself. What do you show in it?
– This exhibition is also the fruit of a dilemma. It develops at a time when people responsible for the Apiaw, the association for intellectual and artistic progress in Wallonia, a major group with, among others, the function of telling what was happening in Paris. This association is pushed aside by the movement of 68. We must not forget the Academy of Liège has long been occupied, an occupation I don’t participate in despite pressures from Marcel Broodthaers, who was conducting the occupation of the Palais des Beaux-Arts of Brussels. Broodthaers tells me we have to occupy the Aca, he even adds he’s going to join us, that I need to prepare an action, to go there with Total’s transparent flag. My wife, Nicole Forsback, knows the context; she’s just out of the engraving workshop of the Academy. Until the day before the action, I’m somewhat divided. I’m seduced by the efforts of some, Nyst, Yellow, Lizène, but I’m telling myself it is still marginal, that an invasion of the insides of the academic system wouldn’t breed a new academism. In short, I didn’t go. End of 69 then, the steering committee of the Apiaw prefers to let go and to leave the programme to a group of artists from Liège. I remember two meetings held in a brewery in the city centre. From the first vote, they choose me for the next exhibition. I’m very surprised. Of course there are disagreements, but a second vote confirms it. I go further by declaring to the assembly that M. Schoefeniels has to be told I want to be the master of the place, for I want to make an exhibition completely different from what “they” expect. For better or for worse, this assembly just wanted me to turn this into a provocation. Since I had my Absolute Zone plan in my boxes, I thought it would be the right moment to show it.
If I remember correctly, Léon Wuidar had the exhibition before mine. At least I have a blurred memory of him being there when I carefully swept the floor to put squarely in the middle two strips of white tape, therefore splitting it in two equal areas. This double strip foreshadowed the zones A and B, the areas to be covered in concrete and on which to plant, like a plan of what could happen on a real scale. On the back wall, in view of this double strip, a red and white signpost: “Here soon Absolute Zone”. On one of the two picture rails, just stuck on two wooden bars, the long drawing of the Absolute Zone. I refer to it as the most collective work there is: place a strip on the equator and thus demarcate the most complete absolute zones, North pole side, all concrete, South pole side, all vegetation. On the wall, more drawings and graphics: a plan for the establishment of an absolute zone in Liège, another to make one in the Apiaw room. (..)
– On another document, we see you with Marcel Broodthaers, standing on both sides of the demarcation of the Absolute Zone.
– Marcel, learning that the exhibition would happen, offers to do the opening. Magnificent! Broodthaers is eloquent and he’s from Brussels. It’s perfect for me. I thought he would make a superb presentation of my Absolute Zone; I was expecting a speech.
– De facto, the photography shows Marcel Broodthaers standing in the middle of the room, hands behind his back, somehow in the attitude of a condottiero. And the public, standing tight, facing him at some distance.
– The public had some trouble entering the exhibition. For a while, they just stayed tight at the bottom of the room. Marcel Broodthaers stands very far, trying to bring them closer. He’s nearly under the Absolute Zone sign. I was expecting a speech. Well no. Marcel just said a few words, declaring that my work was actual and it was a must see at this time. He finishes with a simple toast: “Cheers”!
The pressure in the room was terrible, some sort of fear, a total lack of understanding, even greater since even before its opening the exhibition had made such a fuss in the whole city. It was awaited. With the Total’s group, we had advertised it in every possible way. At the cinema, they were showing Z, the 1969 Costa-Gavras’ film. In town, there were therefore posters of the Z film everywhere. We outdid them by painting “Z” on public buildings and by turning the Z of the posters in Absolute Zone.
– Nice coincidence since Costa-Gavras’ film denounced a totalitarian regime, the one of the Greek colonels.
– Yes, yes. We also stuck our posters “CivilizaTion” with the totalitarian T. Even better, at night with Philippe Gielen we traced a demarcation line of the Absolute Zone in the middle of the city. I still remember sitting with paint cans in the trunk of Gielen’s minivan. He was driving around the block and I was discharging, can after can, a long coloured line on the street. It wasn’t dry in the morning. The “effects” created by car tires were… surprising. We went at it hard… I received a call from Robert Stéphane telling me to “order my people to stop” after we painted the front of the RTB. Schoefeniels and Jacques Parisse, responsible for the Apiaw, have been called to the police… In any case, the evening of the exhibition, the public is puzzled, even scared. The evening will end in tremendous libations. The people were so disturbed by the situation that they just drank. Schoefeniels was furious, he called me asking “Do you think I pay heating bills for empty walls?”.
The provocative side of the exhibition’s aesthetic even takes more importance than its content. People understand next to nothing of what I’m saying. It’s put away with the hardest of conceptual art or theoretical Land Art. In any case, it’s all drowned except for a few, the Totalitarians, the Jazz Crapuleux band, those visiting the Yellow gallery that will soon become a cutting edge gallery. Antaki was there, Richard Tialans, Alain d’Hooge, Jacques Lizène, Michel Lhomme, Sangier… later in the evening, Broodthaers tells me he would also like to exhibit in this Apiaw room, that this association has a nice tradition. I tried to introduce him to Schoefeniels and to explain Marcel’s work. Schoefeniels says “Oh, no, that’s enough! No mussels pans here!”. Broodthaers will not exhibit in Liège, at least not right now. There will be some sort of a feeling of regret later on: Robert Stéphane and Annie Lummerzheim will organize a small exhibition “Broodthaers, Christiaens, Charlier” in the RTB rooms. At the exhibition, there will be five of us, yelling loudly.
Translation of Jean-Michel Botquin & Jacques Charlier, « Zone Absolue, une exposition de Jacques Charlier en 1970 », Editions L’Usine à Stars.
– Montpellier (F), Une rétrospective 1964-1985, La Panacée, du 14 octobre au 2017 au 14 janvier 2018
– Flémalle (B), Carte blanche à Françoise Safin, La Châtaigneraie, 12 novembre – 15 décembre 2017
– Liège (B), galerie Nadja Vilenne, du 14 septembre au 15 novembre 2017 (prolongation)
– Paris, Olivier Foulon & Alexander Lieck, galerie Joseph Tang, jusqu’au 25 novembre 2017
– Maastricht (Nl), Illusion and Revelation. From the collection of the Bonnefantenmuseum. Bonnefantenmuseum, du 24 décembre au 27 novembre 2017
– Dunkerque (F), Permanent Déplacement, FRAC Hauts de France – Le grand Large, du 23 septembre au 31 décembre 2017
– Gent (B), The Photographic I – Other Pictures, SMAK, du 7 octobre au 07 janvier 2018
– Charleroi (B), Art Public Charleroi, divers lieux, du 2 septembre au 5 novembre 2017
– Hasselt (B), Périphérie, du 23 septembre
– Ostende (B), The Raft, Art is (not) Lonely (curator Jan Fabre), MuZee, du 18 octobre au 15 avril 2018
– Flémalle (B), Carte blanche à Françoise Safin, La Châtaigneraie, 12 novembre – 15 décembre 2017
Emilio Lopez Menchero
– Louvain la Neuve (B), Oh les beaux jours, Biennale 9, divers lieux, du 6 octobre au 17 décembre 2017
– Tournai (B), Emilio Lopez-Menchero, « Marcels », TAMAT, Centre de la Tapisserie et des arts du textile, du 07 octobre 2017 au 13 novembre 2017
– Liège (B), Les Vaincus, Space Collecting People, du 28 ocotbre au 25 novembre 2017
– Liège (B), Emilio Lopez Menchero – Sophie Vanghor, l’Art de Paraître, Parti content, 17 novembre 2017
– Flémalle (B), Carte blanche à Françoise Safin, La Châtaigneraie, 12 novembre – 15 décembre 2017
– Liège (B), galerie Nadja Vilenne, du 14 septembre au 15 novembre 2017 (prolongation)
– Chinon (F), Musée le Carroi, 25 mars – 13 novembre 2017
– Ostende (B), Marie Zolamian, Enter #7, MuZee, du 28 octobre au 28 janvier 2018
– Liège (B), Les Vaincus, Space Collecting People, du 28 ocotbre au 25 novembre 2017
– Flémalle (B), Carte blanche à Françoise Safin, La Châtaigneraie, 12 novembre – 15 décembre 2017
L’action urbaine que je propose au sein de Louvain-la-Neuve est composée en quatre mouvements : une criée, une récolte, une construction, une destruction.
Je sillonnerai les rues du campus en incarnant un « T’chanchès » réactualisé, poussant une charrette à bras, mégaphone à la main, vociférant un appel à la population. La demande sera claire: « Barricade! Barricade! Lâchez vot’ brol, meubles, bois, métaux, cartons, plastiques et autres encombrants en tous genres…Construisons une barricade!!! » Mon intention sera de tirer un trait, une limite, une frontière qui divisera une rue obligeant ainsi les passants à oblitérer leur chemin. En me rendant compte de la présence commerciale omniprésente dans ce campus, Louvain-la-Neuve m’est apparu comme un grand shopping mall où je pouvais me servir pour donner de l’épaisseur à une limite et faire participer les habitants et les commerçants. Le geste du « T’chanchès » sera donc une petite déviation éphémère de la destinée courante des rebus de la consommation pour une résistance urbaine. Son échelle est dérisoire à l’ère de l’anthropocène, mais elle marquera de manière infime un temps d’arrêt dans le flux de l’évacuation des déchets. Ceux-là mêmes qui nous préoccupent lorsqu’on en vient à réfléchir à notre empreinte humaine. Ce recyclage servira donc à construire un bastion pour résister. Mais résister à quoi ? Résister comment ? Résister pourquoi ? Et surtout résister à cet endroit-là : l’université. Résistance de pacotille certes, cette muraille terminera son périple dans la décharge municipale.
Autoportrait à l’ancienne, 1990
photographie NB, 37 x 37 cm
Lourdes (version française), 2000
photographie et texte, 50 x 60 cm
Cette mise en scène réunit en cascade de frères et des soeurs appartenant à deux familles sur trois générations. Nous sommes à Lourdes en l931, et pour marquer l’événement, malgré le temps incertain, on a fait appel à un photographe professionnel On peut voir, dans le coin inférieur gauche, son veston et son chapeau à peine dissimulés. Plus haut, au pied du rocher, à côté de son parapluie, il a posé la malle de son appareil, sur laquelle traînent les emballage des supports sensibles De par la théâtralité, le décor choisi et visiblement fréquenté par le pèlerins désireux de poser pour la photo rituelle Les personnes sont réparties dans une structure ayant la forme d’un trapèze isocèle. De part et d’autre de la base, se trouvent les deux frères les plus âgés. Celui de gauche adopte une attitude austère et militaire. Il forme avec son épouse, une cellule distincte qui confirme son autorité sur l’ensemble du groupe. A droite, l’autre frère est beaucoup moins assuré. Figé au garde-à-vous, il fait face à l’objectif, comme s’il s’était redressé en dernière minute, pour se détacher de son épouse aussi compassée que lui. La plus âgée du groupe est veuve,et a préféré s’installer au pied de la seconde rangée. On remarque que c’est la seule à s’afficher sans chapeau, dans une tenue plus adaptée à la promenade. Les deux soeurs, installée au centre de l’avant plan, revendiquent leur influence sur la seconde génération de femmes. Leur attitude témoigne de leur attachement mutuel et leur volonté de se démarquer. Appuyée sur l’épaule de sa complice, la dominante découvre sa corpulence sans complexes. Jambes croisée , elle semble vouloir rappeler son ascendance en indiquant de son index, le milieu de la base du trapèze de composition. La seconde rangée, formée exclusivement de jeunes femmes serrées les unes contre les autres, est menée par celle vêtue d’une gabardine de couleur claire. Son expression décidée est celle d’une figure de proue. Les deux dernières rangées, fières de leur escalade,
forment une constellation autour d’un personnage tiré à quatre épingles. Son voisin vêtu avec autant de soin, mais nu-tête, s’efforce de paraître plus conquérant. Derrière eux, un couple jovial se tient par l’épaule, tandis que leur fils, appuyé ur la canne du père, souligne timidement qu’il est le plus jeune situé le plus haut. La cadette est installée entre une mère qui s’efface et un père élégant. On notera que ce sont les plus éloignés du photographe, qui se permettent de sourire. Les plus proches étant évidemment les plus «exposés».
A la solde de l’art, 1980
Technique mixte sur papier, (2) x 40 x 30 cm
Alles ist aus der Mode, 1979
photographies NB, (7) x 18 x 13 cm
Biennale de Paris 1971, film collectif
Anonyme, Guy Mees, Nature morte, Rocky Tiger, Bernd Lohaus, Panamarenko
Film 16 mm, numérisé, NB son, sous titres, 00:39:04
Biennale de Paris 1971
Technique mixte sur papier, 52 x 62 cm
Drapeau Total, 1967
Collection Ville de Liège
Marche des Totalistes, 1967 (photographie Nicole Forsbach)
Impression sur toile, 100 x 120 cm
Groupe Total’s Underground, 1965-1968
Ensemble de photographies NB, 52 x 72 cm
Au plus la transparence est objet de préoccupation,
Au plus le mystère s’est épaissi.
Il y a juste quarante ans, le 24 avril 1967, les Totalistes liégeois rejoignaient Bruxelles et la place De Brouckère pour la « marche belge anti-atomique ». Nicole Forsbach y prendra cette photographie devenue célèbre du Drapeau transparent totaliste, dessiné par Jacques Charlier, bannière flottant parmi les manifestants sous l’enseigne du concessionnaire Renault installé en l’ancien Hôtel Continental. Les Totalistes manifesteront en se collant un sparadrap sur la bouche, distribuant aux passants des tracts transparents. C’était là une action symbolique, une performance artistique, un happening au cœur d’un mouvement contestataire, « un dépaysement collectif ou une façon de démontrer une volonté de survie » pour reprendre les singulières prises de positions totalistes, c’était là aussi participer à la contestation, bref c’était de l’art total.
Jacques Charlier anime en effet à Liège de 1965 à 1968 le groupe « Total’s Undergound » et édite une revue intitulée « Total’s, l‘édition souterraine liégeoise ». La revue paraîtra irrégulièrement durant trois ans, comptera jusqu’à soixante abonnés.
« Total’s, écrit Jacques Charlier dans l’éditorial du n°1, livret stencilé et relié d’une couverture rouge représentant une cuvette de WC, une voie d’accès comme une autre au monde souterrain, Total’s n’est ni doctrine, ni philosophie, ni politique, ni anarchique, ni beatnik, ni provo, ni tout ce beau vocabulaire journalistique déformé par la consommation engendrant un racisme artificiel entre les générations et groupes sociaux. Total est le spectacle de la vie et de notre propre vie. Il n’espère pas, ne lutte pas pour une nouvelle « liberté » utopique où tout homme prendrait enfin conscience de lui-même. Il se contente de survivre dans des couloirs secrets sans vouloir persuader. Qu’on nous regarde vivre suffit. La révolution et l’évolution (si cela existe) n’est autre chose que notre manière de vivre « autre » qui nous permet de respirer, de créer. Non parce que nous le voulons et le désirons mais parce que nous ne pouvons « agir » autrement. »
Parmi les multiples activités, les styles et les médias divers qu’il pratique à l’époque, Charlier œuvre, en effet, dans la transparence, ou plutôt met la transparence en œuvre. Il crée même un pinceau transparent. « Si j’avais eu du blé, dit-il, j’aurais créé du mobilier transparent, une salle de séjour entière par exemple, comme une caricature du bonheur idéal. Que nous promettait-on d’autre qu’une vie en aquarium (transparent) dans lequel on pourrait se balader à poil ! La transparence était idéal de tout. La réalité en fut tout autre. Il nous faut bien admettre qu’au plus la transparence est devenue objet de préoccupation, au plus le mystère s’est épaissi» Tout dans la transparence donc, tous ces « désirs communs de bonheur, succès financiers, mariage, enfants, maison, santé, frigo, TV, chalet de campagne et danses sociales », lit-on encore dans l’édito de Total.
Les activités totalistes participeront de cette guerilla culturelle des années 60, cette large entreprise de démystification du conditionnement provoqué par la société de consommation. Mais avec un militantisme tout en nuance, car étonnante relativité des choses lorsqu’il s’agit de contester, Jacques Charlier précise dès 1965 : « Nos happenings sous des apparences provocantes ne sont que des essais de dépaysement collectif. En créant un événement où chacun est obligé de commettre un acte tabou, lequel l’oblige sans exaltation à quitter son environnement habituel. Ceci le fait pénétrer dans un monde où il croit ne pas avoir accès. Ce qui lui permet de se voir et de nous voir avec clarté hors de lui-même et si proche. »
At best, transparency is a concern,
At best, the mystery grew thicker.
Fourty years ago, on April 24th 1967, the Totalists from Liège got to Brussels Place De Brouckère for the “Belgian anti-atomic walk”. Nicole Forsbach will take this now famous picture of the Totalist transparent flag, drawn by Jacques Charlier, floating banner among the protestors under the sign of the Renault car dealer installed at the old Hôtel Continental. The Totalists will protest with a plaster on their mouth, distributing to the bystanders transparent tracts. This was a symbolic action, an artistic performance, a happening at the heart of a protest movement, “a collective change of scenery or a way to demonstrate a will to survive”, to use the unique positions taken by the Totalists, it was also a participation in the protestation, in short, it was local art.
Jacques Charlier indeed hosts in Liège from 1965 to 1968 the group “Total’s Underground” and publishes a journal whose title is Total’s, l’édition souterraine liégeoise (Total’s, Liège’s underground publication). The journal will be published irregularly for three years and will count up to sixty subscribers.
“Total’s, writes Jacques Charlier in the first editorial, stencilled booklet wearing a cover showing a toilet bowl, an access road like any other to the underground, Total’s is no doctrine, nor is it philosophy, nor politic, nor anarchic, nor beatnik, nor provo, nor all of this nice reporter vocabulary twisted by consumption causing an artificial racism between the generations and the social groups. Total is the spectacle of life and of our own life. It doesn’t hope, doesn’t fight for a new utopian “freedom” where every man would become conscious of himself. It simply survives in the secret hallways without attempting to convince. That our lives are accounted for is sufficient. Revolution and evolution (if it exists) is nothing more than our way of living “differently”, the thing that allows us to breathe, to create. Not because we want or desire it, but because we can’t “act” otherwise”.
Among the multiple activities, the styles and the various media he practices then, Charlier works, indeed, in transparency, or rather he puts transparency in his work. He even creates a transparent paintbrush. “Transparency was considered ideal for everything. Reality ended up being absolutely different. We have to admit that the more transparency became a concern, the thicker the mystery grew”. All in transparency then, all those “common desires of happiness, financial success, marriage, children, house, health, fridge, TV, lodge in the countryside, and social dances”, we furthermore read in Total’s editorial.
The Totalist activities will be part of this cultural guerilla of the sixties, this large business of demystifying the conditioning provoked by the consumer society. But with an activism made of many different shades, because surprisingly, when comes the time for disputes, Jacques Charlier outlines as soon as 1965: “Our happenings, under a provocative guise are only essays in collective change of scenery. By creating an event where everybody has to break a taboo, which compels him without exaltation to leave his usual environment. This makes him enter a world he doesn’t think he has access to. Which lets him see himself and us with clarity, out of himself and so close.”
« Photographies de Vernissages », 1974-1975
– Knokke, 4e foire d’art actuel 1974 (6 panneaux. Photos : Nicole Forsbach)
– Köln, Projekt 1974 (6 panneaux. Photos : Nicole Forsbach)
– Bruxelles, Palais des Beaux-Arts, Sol Lewitt, Darboven, Finlande, 1974 (6 panneaux. Photos : Nicole Forsbach)
– Bruxelles, réception chez Herman et Nicole Daled, 1974 (2 panneaux. Photos : Yves Gevaert)
– Amsterdam, Stedelijk Museum, Sol Lewitt, (3 panneaux. Photos : Jacques Charlier)
– Gent, fête de Karel Geirlandt, 1974 (3 panneaux. Photos : Nicole Forsbach)
– Bruxelles, Palais des Beaux-Arts, Klapheck, 1974 (3 panneaux. Photos : Nicole Forsbach)
– Bruges, 3e triennale, 1974 (9 panneaux. Photos : Nicole Forsbach)
– Bruxelles, Palais des Beaux-Arts, Broodthaers, Cadéré, Ryman, 1974 (6 panneaux. Photos : Nicole Forsbach)
– Düsseldorf, IKI, 1974 (7 panneaux. Photos : Nicole Forsbach)
– Köln, Kunstmarkt, 1974 (7 panneaux. Photos : Nicole Forsbach)
– Bruxelles, Palais des Beaux-Arts, On Kawara – Jacques Charlier, 1975 (9 panneaux : Photos : Nicole Forsbach et Philippe De Gobert)
67 panneaux 60 x 50 cm, comprenant chacun 9 photographie NB 13 x 18 cm
In 1974, Jacques Charlier still practices professional photography within the Service Technique Provincial (Provincial Technical Service; S.T.P.) as an expeditionary drawer and turns the photographic lens towards the actors of the world of art itself. To various photographers who get involved with the project (Nicole Forsbach, Philippe de Gobert and Yves Gevaert), he asks to shoot pictures of a sequence of exhibition openings, for many reasons considered by the amateurs as being “essential”, and more precisely to shoot from afar, without exaltation we’d say, the public of those rendezvous. Charlier decides to take the public of art as his subject. The point is not to take pictures of the works. Neither does the artist enlists for a worldly photo report. He explains his motivations: “In 1975, the art I was frequenting was increasingly closing on itself. The same little world it interested was moving along with the exhibitions. Since there was nearly nothing on the walls, it was becoming a ritual in its purest form. People had been criticizing me for exhibiting pictures of parties and trips happening in the context of the S.T.P.. I was absolutely not proposing these documents by exoticism, but I was aggressively criticized as exhibiting alienation… My motivation was instead to get into open conflict with poetic photographic scouting and socio reports. I was still wondering about the problem of the sociological index of the objects and its impact, the involvement of the one who shows, of those it shows, of those to which it’s shown. In the case of the S.T.P., everything was really intractable, nothing was legal, defensible, legitimate. Everything was short-circuiting. This aspect of impossibility was my fascination… Nothing was neutral. This complexity was making the product absolutely indefensible for the market. Some kind of an inextricable no man’s land. To answer some arguments, I decided to turn the artistic context on itself.
So for a year, Charlier multiplied the panes, nine black and white pictures per nine, composing them with a perpetual care to notice the sociological index. He went to the high masses, Bruges’ third Triennial, the Köln Projekt, also the fairs, the one in Knokke, the Kunstmarkt in Köln, very avant-garde, IKI in Düsseldorf which was way more like an art bazaar. He joined the Stedelijk museum in Amsterdam for a Sol LeWitt exhibition, went a few times at the Palais des Beaux-Arts in Brussels, where Marcel Broodthaers, Hanne Darboven and Klapheck were exhibiting. He even entered private parties, those given in honour of the tireless Karl Geirlandt at the Gent museum, an evening between friends at Nicole and Herman Daled’s place (two collectors from Brussels). He proposes these/his photographs. “On Kawara’s activity is completely centred on his life, he says… The time at which he awakes… The people he meets… Today’s date… In short, a program tight enough it’s going to give you a headache (laughs), a bargain for the telegraph management (laughs)… the conception of the frames of my exhibition photographs was inspired by Bertrand’s photo reports, S.T.P.’s photograph… The average plane and taking the overview of the situation… the most complete deployment of the back of the tableau, of what’s in front of it… Exactly the opposite of the works centred on the artist and also the opposite of the usual exhibition picture, in which the moral perspective inherent to the exhibition is restored… the artist, the organizers, the close-up shots of high-profile personalities, the public behind… the extras… The exhibition of the pictures of the whole array of these pictures happened at the end of the exhibition and matched the publishing of the catalogue collecting the photographs of the people busily attempting to find their faces on the pictures… the experience could have continued, becoming a mise en abyme”.
Jacques Charlier had already played with this mirror effect, confronting the public of the exhibition to itself, although in a different way: with the group Total, during an exhibition of the APIAW in Liège, around the end of the sixties, he introduces in the exhibition room a great mirror on which is written “Tableau Total” (Total Tableau). The viewers faced with their reflection become the object of the exhibition. Is the same mirror effect effective in the case of openings photographs? “No, a mirror doesn’t capture time, answers Charlier… The ritual of photography is the same as nostalgia… Memory… Over time, the public’s interest in those photographs grows, everybody can find themselves in them… We progressively count the missing… a “work in progress”, as the ones who would like to say something about it say…”. It’s one of the points of interest of this work. “The document offers the privilege of retrospectively lending meaning to the things – it’s also true in the world of art, Shawn McBride writes about the pictures of Benjamin Katz, who developed for half a century through his photographs a panoptic vision of the world of art and of its protagonists. And many artists didn’t have the chance right then to appreciate its full scope. We can feel how these things grow with cruel speed when we observe their progress. But do events really fit this way together? The real experience certainly wouldn’t allow us to see the big picture like we perceive it with hindsight. This experience happened in the flux of the moment – and not necessarily in the remaining material that is the artwork. Often, photography transmits more than its essence”. De facto, with hindsight, Jacques Charlier’s openings photographs have become an exceptional fonds over a very short period of art history. Over the course of the pictures, we actually recognize an impressive number of “personalities”, actors of this artistic corporation. Artists, museum directors, collectors, gallery owners, critics, in short this little world, this family considered to be nearly incestuous and infatuated by some who have a critical eye, while others will evoke it with nostalgic attachment, happy to have been part of it or regretting that they didn’t get to rub with Konrad Fischer, James Lee Byars, Marcel Broodthaers, Anton Herbert, Daniel Buren, Benjamin Buchloh, Isi Fiszman, Giancarlo Politi, Catherine Millet, John Gibson, Dan Graham, Ilona Sonnabend and so many others. The analysis of these photographs is obviously edifying on many aspects of the world of art and on its rituals, its perfectly codified exhibitions, this unique ceremonial where the public varnishes itself since we don’t varnish the paintings in public any more. The ritual consists in receiving, since this is a reception, but what do we receive in fact? Do we receive each other? Do we receive the works? Most likely, this is the dwelling place of the topicality of this work by Charlier. It radically questions the art object in itself; it’s certainly its basic necessity. Through the last exhibition pictures, those from 1975, those on which we see the public watching the openings photographs, we wonder of course about those questioning looks. Is he questioning the work? Is he questioning himself? Is he questioning his own presence? In addition, the work establishes what we now understand as a sociological tour taken by creation over time, it questions the heart of this artistic field, it is a way of thinking its reception, its artifices, its reality. It continues even now to send the viewer back to himself.
Didn’t Édouard Manet say “The Exhibition Room really is a wrestling ground. It’s here that we compete”? This is also topical.
Marie Zolamian est l’invitée du Comité muZee 02, association des amis du musée d’Ostende et qui, à ce titre, promeut le cycle « Enter », une série d’expositions monographiques consacrées à la jeune scène artistique.
Exposition du 28 octobre 2017 au 28 janvier 2018.
Vernissage le 27 octobre 2017
Le travail de Marie Zolamian (Beyrouth, 1975, vit et travaille à Liège) fonctionne comme une suite de séquences. Ainsi constitue-t-elle au fil du temps un corpus qui constitue un documentaire expérimental d’une ethnologie fictionnelle, l’expérimentation d’un auto-enracinement dans un monde globalisé qui mixte des modes de vie, des pensées et des histoires tant orientales qu’occidentales. « Je tente de m’approprier, déclare Marie Zolamian, des patrimoines de communautés d’élections qui me sont étrangères ; j’interroge la notion d’affiliation et d’appartenance à une communauté, à un territoire. Ces « exils choisis » dans des micro-localités me font rencontrer des micro-histoires. Elles ont pour trait commun de reposer sur un récit, un témoignage qui touche l’individu et la collectivité, à partir d’un attachement subjectif à un lieu ou à un objet hérité. Et tout ceci se vit comme des tentatives d’intégration répétées, là où des relations – parfois discordantes – s’établissent entre l’identité, la tradition et l’authentique, entre un lieu et une culture ». Le processus de travail s’élabore au fil d’une série de portraits, de liens entre un environnement et une histoire, qu’elle soit personnelle ou collective. Chaque portrait, chaque étape est l’archive d’une trajectoire visuelle, un inconnu ici se déplaçant vers un inconnu-là.
Marie Zolamian’s (born in Beirut in 1975; lives and works in Liège) work takes the form of a series of sequences. Accordingly, she is building up a body of work over time, which amounts to an experimental documentary on a fictional ethnology, the experiment of self-rooting in a globalised world, which mixes lifestyles, thoughts, and stories that are both Eastern and Western. “I am trying to take ownership of the heritage of chosen communities that are foreign to me; I am questioning the concept of affiliation and belonging to a community, or a region”, says Marie Zolamian. These “chosen exiles” in micro-localities enable me to encounter micro-stories. Their common trait is that they are based on a tale, or a testimony that affects both the individual and the group, starting from a subjective attachment to a place or an inherited object. All of this is experienced as repeated attempts at integration, in places where relationships – which are sometimes conflictual – are being established between identity, tradition, and authenticity, between a place and a culture”. The working process is developed in the course of a series of portraits, and of links between an environment and a story, regardless of whether it is individual or collective. Each portrait and each stage is the archive of a visual journey, an unknown individual here moving towards an unknown individual there.
Het werk van Marie Zolamian (Beiroet, 1975, woont en werkt in Luik) bestaat uit een reeks aaneenschakelingen. Zo bouwt ze in de loop der jaren een corpus op waarmee ze een experimentele documentaire van een fictieve etnologie tot stand brengt en experimenteert met zelfverankering in een geglobaliseerde wereld die zowel oosterse als westerse levenswijzen, denkbeelden en verhalen met elkaar vermengt. “Ik probeer mij het erfgoed van uitgekozen, voor mij onbekende gemeenschappen toe te eigenen”, verklaart Marie Zolamian. “Ik onderzoek de begrippen ‘aansluiting bij’ en ‘toebehoren aan’ een gemeenschap of een grondgebied. Die “gekozen ballingschappen” in microgemeenschappen leveren me microverhalen op. Hun rode draad? Ze berusten allemaal op een verhaal of een getuigenis die het individu en de gemeenschap beïnvloeden en gebaseerd zijn op een subjectieve verknochtheid aan een plaats of een geërfd object. En dit alles wordt ervaren als herhaaldelijke pogingen tot integratie, daar waar er – soms conflictueuze – relaties ontstaan tussen identiteit, traditie en authenticiteit, tussen een plaats en een cultuur.” Het werkproces krijgt vorm in een reeks portretten en verbanden tussen een omgeving en een persoonlijke of collectieve geschiedenis. Elk portret, elke stap vormt een gearchiveerd visueel traject, van een onbekende ‘hier’ naar een onbekende ‘daar’.
Zonder titel (mannelijk naakt), 1977
Série de 6 photographies NB, tirages argentiques, (6) x 18 x 24 cm
Hommage à …I (from a series of 5 Hommages, 1972) is one of Lili Dujourie’s first video works. It belongs to the experimental stage of video art, when the technology was still in its infancy. In Hommage à …I, a naked woman – the artist herself – rolls around in white bed-sheets in slow motion. At first it seems that she’s asleep. But after a while she starts to move, rolls in and out of the bed, in a rhythm that makes one think of the twilight state between wakefulness and sleep. The piece is recorded in real-time, without editing. It shows a space that unfolds in time and a figure that’s caught there. Sensuality, the passage of time, boredom – here they go hand-in-hand. The video links to tradition of the female nude, one of art-history’s most venerable motifs. Lili Dujourie deliberately chooses a theme that had no place in the dominant conceptual art-scene of the 1970s. The artist is also her own model, and explains this choice as follows: “The woman has always been ‘the model’, and I wanted to do away with this – as a woman I could hardly manipulate another woman! (…) If you want to evoke the intimacy of the female nude, then you have to do it yourself, you can’t ask a model to do that for you.” Lili Dujourie redefines conventions regarding the relationship between model and maker, between who’s doing the looking and who’s being looked at. The title refers to a homage to art history. No so much one particular image as the whole of art history, all those images that keep resonating in the artist’s memory. The poses that Dujourie assumes are determined by recollections of nudes from art tradition, in her own words “a physical transformation of everything that I’ve seen in my life”.
In Madrigal and Enjambment a bare wooden floor fills the screen. The dressed figures – a woman and a man respectively – roll, fold and unfold themselves, in between alternating interludes. Madrigal is a continuation of the Hommages series, in which Lili Dujourie investigates the image of the naked body. In this series of videos the artist herself often plays the model. In this work, Lili Dujourie unexpectedly turns behind her back and stares into the camera with a foggy gaze. The image suddenly comes into focus, the overview disappears. A madrigal is a musical composition for several voices. The picking of this title is determined by the poetic quality of the word, by the associations and memories the concept of the madrigal evokes from the artist. In 1976 Lili Dujourie elaborated this idea, this time using a man as the model. There is hardly any difference. The man rolls over the floor, just like Lili in Madrigal, but it takes a while before you realize it is a man. The title ‘enjambment’ refers to the deceleration in the rhythmical progression of a love poem. With Enjambment the artist wishes to approach the male in all his fragility, not in his toughness or strength. She wanted to “capture something in the male nude which leans towards the female side of the male”.
Lili Dujourie uses the same model from het video Enjambement for this series of black and white photographs from 1977. The models rolls across the floor and it’s not always clear whether it’s a male or a female model. These photos are a precursor for the colour photos with female nudes that appear later. In her series Dujourie explores not just the sculptural qualities of the human body, but also its fragility.
Sans titre, 2015-2017 (de la série Badeschloss)
Crayon, crayons de couleur et cire sur papier. (5) x 33,5 x 41,5 cm.
Péripeties, 2014 – 2017
Cartes postales, cartel, 43 x 61 cm
Sans titre (la boîte rose), 2016
Huie sur toile, 27 x 20 cm
On the wall 7, 2016-2017
Ceramics, polystyrene, cardboard, wood, iron, h. 90,5 cm
Photos – Sketch, 1976
– Il y a des gens que l’on comprend aisément…
– Y en a d’autres qui font de l’art facilement
– Dans n’importe quelle circonstance, avec n’importe quoi
– Comme ça. Pouff !
– N’importe où. Là par exemple…
Aglaia Konrad. Demolition City, 1992-2016,
20 épreuves à la gélatine argentine sur papier baryte.
Konrad’s photography plays with notions of «original » and « index, » « nature » and « culture, » with the fact that the original « stone » cannot be dated and with its « social » shaping in the historic present. This reversibility is further witnessed in Demolition City (1991/2016) the photographie series she made of the demolition of a terrace of houses on Rosier Faassenstraat in Rotterdam, which looks as if it might read either way, forwards or backwards, reiterating both the construction or deconstruction of walls, floors, and roofs.(…) (Penelope Curtis, From A to K)
Suchan Kinoshita, viewer desk, custumised viewers
Sans titre (un citron), 2017
Sans titre (un citron), 2017
Cadere. Waste and Cadavers All, 2015
Photocopy, gouache, pen and ink on board, 46 x 54 cm
As high above as the ditch is deep, 2015
Stuffed Black Rooster, rope, variable dimensions
In the Midst of Falling: The Cry… 2016
C-print (Unique), Satin Float Glass and Gesso Wood Frame, 145.4 x 241.8 cm
Fall upward, to a height ( verso & recto), 2015
Photograph, pen and ink on board. (2) x 78 x 54 cm
(…) John Murphy has a similar respect for art from the recent past. His art resembles a pantheon of signs that transmit poetic experience. He engages with existing works from a modernist body of literature, painting and film, and particularly with a number of ‘authors’ who (re) invented Symbolism (Mallarmé, Magritte, Resnais). His work often comes in the form of delicate objects or images that sit or hang lightly in a space, like a spider’s web or celestial notations. In fact the physical space between the elements in his work is essential and signifies the mental space that opens up when a visitor tracks the (symbolical) lines that connect the elements, and when words, images and associations reveal themselves. Our exhibition features a body of works inspired by the notion of the fall, especially the fall from grace recounted in Genesis, when Adam and Eve are expelled from the Garden of Eden, as famously depicted by the Italian painter Masaccio in a fierce and moving fresco. Masaccio’s painting returns in Murphy’s epic, newly made photograph In The Midst of Falling. The Cry (2015), which derives from a charged image in Joseph Losey’s film Eve (1962), where a woman is transfixed in a hallway before a reproduction of the painting. Murphy is like a dancer aiming for a light gesture, because for him it is the most powerful conduit of experience. His titles, resourceful and full of sillent threat, create a world in itself.(…)
Jacques Lizène participe à l’exposition Het Vlot – The Raft organisée au musée d’art contemporain d’Ostende et en divers lieux de la cité balnéaire. Commissaire de l’exposition : Jan Fabre. Vernissage ce 21 octobre. Theodore Géricault, Le radeau de la Méduse (quatrième étude), 1819 – 1820. (c) Angers, Musée des Beaux-Arts NAUFRAGES DE REGARD On […]
La galerie Nadja Vilenne aura le plaisir de vous accueillir sur son stand 1.KO6 – Salon Jean Perrin Galerie Nadja Vilenne is pleased to welcome you at booth 1.KO6 – Salon Jean Perrin JACQUES CHARLIER LILI DUJOURIE MAEN FLORIN ALEVTINA KAKHIDZE AGLAIA KONRAD JACQUES LIZENE JACQUELINE MESMAEKER JOHN MURPHY VALERIE SONNIER WALTER SWENNEN MARIE ZOLAMIAN […]
En complément à l’exposition rétrospective qui s’ouvre ce vendredi à La Panacée, centre d’art contemporain de Montpellier, s’ouvre samedi 14 octobre une seconde exposition, conçue en écho à la première par Aperto, lieu d’art contemporain : son titre : Peintures non identifiées. Artiste prolixe qui touche à tous les médiums, qui s’exprime dans tous les […]
Valérie Sonnier Sans titre, 2015- 2017 (de la série Badeschloss) Crayon, crayons de couleur et cire sur papier. (7) x 33,5 x 41,5 cm. Valérie Sonnier Sans titre, 2015 (de la série Badeschloss) Crayon, crayons de couleur et cire sur papier. 33,5 x 41,5 cm.
Jacques Charlier Problème de mur, 1974 Photos Sketch, 6 photographies NB rehaussées à l’encre, (6) x 30 x 40 cm, détail Jacques Charlier est l’invité de Nicolas Bourriaud pour une double exposition à Montpellier. Une rétrospective 1960-1980 au centre d’art contemporain de la Panacée, un ensemble de travaux plus récents à Aperto, un lieu associatif […]
Maen Florin Albino, 2017 Ceramics 1, 2, 3j, h. 46, 45, 45 cm Maen Florin On the wall, X / lamento, 2017 Ceramics, polystyrène, wood, iron. h. 85 cm Maen Florin On the wall, XIII / lamento, 2017 Ceramics, polystyrène, wood, iron. h. 85 cm
Aglaia Konrad participe à l’exposition The Photographic I – Other Pictures. Du 7 octobre au 7 janvier 2018, au SMAK à Gent. Vernissage le 6 octobre The Photographic I – Other Pictures est la première partie d’un diptyque, répartis sur deux années. L’exposition comporte des oeuvres nouvelles et existantes d’une vingtaine d’artistes et de photographes […]
Pour sa 9e Biennale d’art contemporain, le Centre culturel d’Ottignies-Louvain-la-Neuve a fait appel à un duo de commissaires internationaux : le plasticien Angel Vergara (B) et le curateur et critique d’art Joël Benzakin (F). Cette exposition prendra place dans l’espace public de Louvain-la-Neuve du 6 octobre au 10 décembre 2017. Installations, images, vidéos, performances et […]