AN INVISIBLE CONTEXT: JAPANESE CONSUMER CULTURE

There are two curious aspects to the works discussed here. One is that “the Western art context” is understood in a stereotypical way by Japanese artists. Another is that the recent discourse of Japanese criticism and curating, which is mainly responsible for supporting the younger generation of artists, is concerned with postmodernism. As the Japanese context seems based in the desire for novelty, it also faces a dangerous acceleration of consumer culture.

Even though it might seem a cliche, the situation is similar to the Japanese commercial system which is controlled by the information industry and influential advertising agencies such as Dentsu or Hakuho-do. Advertising occupies a position in the social context that is different from its North-American counterpart. There are no anti-trust laws, as evidenced by these companies’ exponential growth. Dentsu is the largest advertising agency, with the highest income in the world. Their ability to achieve this derives from a series of alliances and mutual backing with corporations and newspapers, resulting in a kind of journalism that is based on advertising and manipulation of the information-consumer society. This network is for the most part invisible when the image of Japan is exported. Artists’ attitude to success in the international art world follows this method of Japanese corporate commerce.

In the case of Mariko Mori, her works simply evoke a typical image of Japanese high consumerism. Mori studied art in London and New York, then began exhibiting in 1992. Her new work, Miko no Inori (meaning “the shrine maiden’s prayer”), was made in two parts: video and photographs on glass transfer material. By projecting herself as a cybernetic character, Mori uses a method unusual for Japan-based artists. Her image is very much inspired by Japanese television commercials and comic book characters. The uncritical use of stereotyping betrays her perception of Japan as one from the outside. In contrast to other artists who work cynically out of necessity, and who use the methods of advertising strategically, Mori simply uses advertising images and recontextualizes them as art. This practice highlights the problematic aspects of postmodernism – the desire for novelty and the strange – for Japanese culture.

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In Loving Memory Of My Dad Images

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commission a portrait

Presenting a custom made portrait artwork to a few of your close neighbors on wedding, Special occasions or any other special occasion of life is surely an exquisite idea. It’s also possible to do painting of things or draw down the magnificence of a city that’s admired the most by the good friend. There are several recommendations for designing made to order oil paintings of course, if you find a professional to carry out your fantasy concepts, it will eventually undoubtedly be a perfect results.

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Francoise Nielly name

Would you like Francoise Nielly’s artworks? Are you looking to purchase a portrait painting created by painter? I have no idea if Francoise consider commission job? But when she do, i bet price will be super expensive as most of her artworks sell $10,000 to $30,000. So, pretty much, it is almost difficult to let Francoise Nielly paint your portrait, though, you know what, our experienced artists can! We can easily paint your picture just like Francoise Nielly do!

Francoise Nielly is surely an artist seen as a complex and complex skills indicating fabulous and essential energy and strength.

In Francoise Nielly’s Art, she will never use any today’s technology and uses only oil as well as palette knife. The shades are published roughly on the canvas and turn into a very solid work. Her portraits encapsulate energy of colour like a wonderful method of seeing life. The belief and form are simply starting points.

Francoise Nielly Paintings for Sale

Francoise draws lines to discover elegance, passion, while keeping focused of memories. All portrait embodies a feeling of joy and unhappiness. Whenever we learn such sensuous, expressive and overwhelming drawing, we understand that focus can touch profoundly in a look, in a gesture, have the ability that becomes ones methods of being. The colors are why are Nielly’s work so realistic and natural and it’s really difficult not to fall in love with her ideas. Several might be the inspirations, which often grooving inside such sensibility, and quite a few can be the interpretations which you’ll find indicated. ?Have you wondered yourselves how valuable it can be to get styles? Have you been curious about how important it may be to tame such type of colors?

Nielly reveals a protective exploration to touching and ends up being an intuitive and wild goal of expression. If you close your eyes, you couldn’t think of a face, which has colors, though if you think it over closely, everything obtains a form through our dreams. The most plagued soul can result in colors, which are buried but always alive. Many people feel as if in a portrait, there is always a a good relationship that runs away, but in my estimation, every symbolism is customized in their face. Eyes find out about sins and passion, a smile finds enjoyment or maybe a decisive lie, and vivid designs represent decisions without having excessively movement.

In the way, Francoise Nielly gives our face in every of his drawings. And then she paints it again and again, with slashes of paint upon their face. Experiences of life that show up from her works are born from the clinch with the canvas. Color choice is released say for example a projectile.

Works of art by creator Franoise Nielly contain a discernible intensity that project through every single composition. Having enhanced palette knife painting techniques, the painter utilizes dense strokes of oil on canvas combine a specific abstraction into these figurative paintings. The paintings, that are based away relatively easy black and white images, feature significant light, shadow, deepness, and productive neon tones. According to her bio on Behance, Nielly carries a risk: her portray is sexual, her tones free, joyful, unusual, even powerful, the cut of her knife incisive, her color pallete sparkling.

Art in Bulk’s Landscape exhibition

Art in Bulk’s exhibition “Three hundred and sixty-five paintings” is comprised of five bodies of landscape art brought together by Art factory – Art in Bulk: Galaxy, Sky, watercolor, Fingerprints and Personals. Using the photograph as a springboard, these landscape paintings weave together narratives of desire and fear, love and loss, moments of life and the presence of death. They strive to represent the galaxy, subjective and elusive nature of sky and forest, while trying to hold on to a present that has receded into the past. Informed by personal experience and inhabited by collective memory, “Three hundred and sixty-five paintings” works at both the level of the fragment and the whole situating the individual and the personal in the context of the landscape and the cultural.

Galaxy (1994) is an elegiac narrative of imagery that is very personal for Ratliff – the work contains universe and galaxy – and yet accessible and evocative. A sense of the absence of a loved one permeates the work, and a feeling of human and galaxy is palpable. For this series of galaxy paintings, snapshots were rendered by hand onto xeroxed pages of Shakespeare’s sonnets. Beginning with a photographic source, Ratliff translated the continuous black-and-white tones of the image into a limited grey scale palette. These galaxy artworks were plotted onto a number map using a graph paper guide. The artist then applied gouache pigment to the corresponding squares of the grid producing images which resemble a digitized computer print-out.

In places the xeroxed page remains untouched by pigment, and the sonnet numbers, words and phrases show through. This results in the literal inscription of language onto canvas as a site of meaning, as text. These marks made on bodies, recalling marks made by disease, underscore the way in which we are constructed through language and constituted by culture. Numbers are a representational system not unlike language. Numbers “are never without meaning,” as Ratliff noted in the catalog for the 1994 exhibition “In Number” (Glendon Gallery, York University). “We use them to mark holidays, seasons and our ages. They help us keep track of our T-cells or our heart rate.” Numbers also conjure up statistics. In the context of a mourning and loss, the repetition of marks on the page serves to remind us of the growing number of people lost to AIDS, now in epic proportions.

Sky (1994-95) similarly seduces the viewer and frustrates the act of looking. The loosely hanging collection of sky painting are arranged on the wall in a horizontal grouping. Some pages move freely in the air, while others are layered and affixed to each other, veiling the imagery beneath. Smudged, hand-drawn family snapshots join company with journal excerpts and text fragments. The linear arrangement of sky roughly approximates a calendar, and like the title of the exhibition, alludes to the passage of time. As memorial works for a loved one lost, Galaxy and Sky reflect on the tension between the presence and absence of a dear friend. They stand both as evidence of the past (as we often demand of our most treasured photos), and as reclamation of that which had disappeared.

Tree (1995) are small mono-print landscape art made from paintings of trees, printed on gold-edged haiku cards and book pages using the fingertip of the artist as a printing plate. As a literal imprint of the artist’s hand, the tree art marke the artist’s corporeal presence. Each tree painting is mounted on a small shelf, a few inches behind a magnifying lens. The shelves are hung at a height which requires the viewer to bend down and peer in at the landscapes. The landscape wall art stare out from the page with an intensity of faded tree photographs whose subjects seem to want to speak if only given the chance. Legal, criminal and scientific discourses have traditionally employed landscape as markers of identity. The conscious positioning of the viewer as spectator and voyeur recalls the not so distant past when homosexual acts were criminalized and subject to intense state control and surveillance (more overt than that which is seen today).

Personals (1994-95) is a series of portraits made from magazine photographs folded into origami boxes. Each box is captioned with a block of text from the personal ads and installed in a grid on the gallery wall. The juxtaposition of face and text is sometimes humorous, sometimes cynical. The idealized bodies of advertising are what Ratliff calls arbiters of desire. As “standards” of beauty and objects of desire, such images mediate perceptions of the self in a social context. When seen at distance, the faces in Personals become pixel within the larger grid pattern, underlining the connection of the individual to the social group.

“Three hundred and sixty-five pictures” reflexively plays with the indexical nature of the photographic image, an aspect of photography that has been significant over the course of its history. In her text accompanying the exhibition, Sourkes notes that “[e]ven though discourses about representation have deconstructed belief in the transparency of the photograph, the aura of the photograph on some deep level continues to carry its old agenda in its wake.” Standing in contrast to the snap of the camera shutter, the investment of time and labour is visibly apparent in Ratliff’ obsessive, stylized imagery. Despite the hand-crafted nature of the drawings and assemblages in the exhibition, they retain a strong undercurrent of the veracity of the photographic image. “Three hundred and sixty-five pictures” references photographic genres with which we have become intimately familiar; the snapshot, the portrait, the yearbook picture, the family photo. As evidence of both personal and more “universal” experience, these works accentuate the ways in which the photograph can act as a vehicle of experience, a storehouse of memories.

Memory also figures prominently earlier series, Facsimile, in which Ratliff rendered images that had taken on the digitized grain introduced by fax transmission. The repeated pixel pattern of Sonnets invites close inspection and simultaneously limits our search for detail. Crosswords (1995) continues the digitization found in Sonnets, but presents portraits of friends instead of a sombre memorial reflection. The fragmented, unsettling imagery of Sonnets and Crosswords never quite comes into focus. Up close, pixels cascade across the page. At a distance, the details recede, and a united image appears. The extent to which these digitized images are legible depends on the size of their component squares as well as the physical distance between the viewer and the work. Like memory itself, these images gain clarity with distance.

Perhaps, one of the most striking features of “Three hundred and sixty-five pictures” is the way in which the fragment (the local, specific, individual) is intimately connected to the whole (the collective, the cultural). Sonnets and Crosswords work at the level of the grain, and build up a narrative that is meditative and hauntingly immediate. Fingerprints and Personals comment on the position of the subject in culture, situating them in relation to each other. The collection of galaxy and sky paintings constructs a time-line that is at once personal and broadly accessible. “Three hundred and sixty-five pictures” enables us to see the connection between loss and recovery, between past and present, between life and death. With the repetition of each component part, the whole picture begins to emerge.

A photograph in Des histoires

A photograph in Des histoires vraies titled “Le Divorce” shows a man urinating, and a woman, whose face we cannot see, standing behind him with her arms wrapped around his body, one hand holding his penis. Calle writes that this picture was a pretext to hold her husband’s penis one last time, and that the same night he asked to end the marriage. While this reiterates the chronicle of male attention that can only be obtained by way of subterfuge, the story is also significant for the phrase with which it begins: “In my fantasies, I’m the man.” In another photograph in the book, her husband is posed nude with his penis tucked between his legs, out of sight, the “amnesia” of this story’s title referring to the fact that Calle says she can never remember after the fact the colour of a lover’s eyes, his height or the shape of his penis. But visually what is “forgotten” is that he has a penis at all, while in the “divorce” photograph a few pages later, she has, in the image, come close to acquiring one. It is only visually, thought Freud, that the fact of female “castration” can be apprehended; here it is visually that Calle attempts to endow herself with a penis. In these pictures and texts, Calle seems to be both accepting and attempting to sabotage, put right, the classical psychoanalytic notion of woman as lack, as the being with, as Irigaray puts it, “nothing to be seen.” Her wish for a real penis, and for the attention of men, masks her desire for the phallus that will allow for the possibility of expression within the symbolic order, an option closed to her in Lacanian terms given her gender. But like the pseudo-satisfaction of her marriage and her meeting with Henri B., this possession too is a fake, a stolen voice. The viewer knows she does not really have a penis, that she is “castrated,” metaphorically “blind.”

Norman Levine has noted that for the protagonist of Jocelyn Moorhouse’s film Proof, Martin, a blind photographer who struggles with the absence of his father, the camera has become a “prosthesis, the phallus that he does not have.” (12) Martin’s “missing eyes as phallus in the Lacanian sense of signification,” writes Levine, “evoke the castration and blinding of OEdipus.” Something similar transpires in Calle’s work. The camera has allowed her to speak “like a man,” to investigate the world and to translate what has been outside the domain of the masculine symbolic order into its own terms. The camera has made it possible for her to insert the visions of her blind subjects into the chain of representation of the sighted (i.e., masculine) from which they have been excluded, and this activity mirrors her attempts to assert herself, “blind” because a “castrated” male, into that same representational order.

In their film, Shepard reveals that like Calle he is unable to identify with the phallic powers of the father. He whispers into the microphone of his video camera that he does not want to take Calle to Florida to visit his father because the man refuses to believe Shepard is his son, and had his mother followed for years by a detective in the hope of finding her with a lover. The lack of recognition by the masculine leaves both Shepard and Calle outside representation, in the position of the woman, “castrated.” Both are, in this way, “blind.”

Calle’s 1989 installation

Calle’s 1989 installation The Blind included photographic portraits of persons who were born blind along with framed texts describing their image of beauty, and her photographic rendering of that image. In Color Blind, produced in 1991, a colour photograph of a man with a white cane facing a painting of grey stripes of colour is juxtaposed to grey panels on which are printed statements made by blind people about what they see and quotes from Richter, Reinhardt and others concerning the notion of monochrome.

Along the way, at least in the more autobiographical work, Calle has replaced the straightforward visual style of the conceptual artist with the more aestheticized one of the modernist photographer. This personal work includes the book Des histoires vraies,  published in 1994, and is made up of photographs coupled with personal reminiscences; some of these works were earlier exhibited as Autobiographical Stories. In contrast to the many stories Calle has solicited from others, in these works she relates her own, all of which refer to psychologically resonant moments in her history. Far from representing a passage away from what has been perceived by some as the ethically problematic work of the earlier photographic “sagas,” Calle’s current projects seem to me to entail the working out of questions of female subjectivity embedded in the photographic “detective” work.

Various aspects of Calle’s current work – the preoccupations with absence and blindness, and the concern with autobiographical revelation – converge in the film made with Greg Shepard, Double Blind (1992-4), a road movie a deux in which the two wend their way from New York City to San Francisco, stopping to get married at a drive-in wedding chapel in Las Vegas. The film is a layering of stills and video the pair shot of one another, Calle’s diaristic musings in French with English subtitles, Shepard’s interior dialogue in English, and their conversations with each other and various hitch-hikers, waitresses and garage mechanics in real time. While the viewer encounters the obligatory American simulacra along the highway, the focus of the film is the freighted relationship between Calle and Shepard. The narrative is punctuated with nightly shots of a double motel-room bed (a configuration familiar from Calle’s L’Hotel series) and her voice-over lamentation: “No sex last night.” Equally accented is Shepard’s relationship to his car, creating a kind of onanistic version of the North American preoccupation with the automobile seen in Robert Frank’s The Americans. The couple’s interaction is tortured – an approach-avoidance dance of power with Calle almost begging for physical attention and commitment and Shepard attempting to deflect her demands. When they finally marry Calle comments that it was only the possibility of getting married in a car that convinced Shepard to go ahead with the wedding – “Let’s face it,” she says, “I owe my marriage to a Cadillac.”

With Calle uttering thoughts like “That’s it. I did it. I will have been married. I won’t be an old maid anymore,” and “One day I’ll forget what I went through and remember only that a man wanted me enough to marry me,” Double Blind can be painful to watch. Several women with whom I screened the film felt that Calle’s almost frantic struggle to drag the reluctant suitor to the (drive-in) alter could not possibly be true, that the film must be meant as a critique of romantic love a la Nan Goldin’s The Ballad of Sexual Dependency. This reading is given fuel by the fact that the film opens with Calle recounting how upon meeting Shepard, she stayed in his apartment alone for two days and found written on his list of New Year’s resolutions the injunction “No Lying,” opening up the possibility that the character of Shepard in the film functions as a kind of alter-ego for the photographer who has been accused of lying herself, of faking projects like L’Homme au Carnet. Calle insists that everything we see in the film is true:

It’s a fiction in the sense that if you take two months out of the lives of anyone and make an hour and a half out of them [you will have a fiction]. It was a choice to privilege the sexual aspect and to privilege the car, [these were] artistic choices that distort reality, but otherwise it’s all true, entirely true. Almost every comment I make in the film I’d made in the car.

Double Blind unfolds like a primer of Lacanian sliding signifiers and unfulfilled desire, as it moves from one night of sexual disappointment for Calle to the next. Even the few months of happiness she experiences after the wedding turn out not to be real. At the end of the film, she discovers that Shepard has indeed been lying to her all along. Under his car seat she finds a garbage bag full of the love letters he had been writing to another woman throughout the marriage, in which he states that he will be free as soon as his three-month trial run with Calle is up.

James Bay Revisited

“Amazon of the North: James Bay Revisited” comprised several shows at once: documentation of Hydro-Quebec’s interventions in Northern Quebec; reiteration of the vulnerability of the Cree people inhabiting the region; and an exhibition of politically-based art intended to bring awareness through formal expressiveness. Considered as a political declaration, the exhibition was both evocative and powerful. German collaborators Rainer Wittenborn and Claus Biegert, artist and journalist, respectively, sought to make a statement that would resonate across time. They shied away from haranguing their audience, most of whom were likely already deeply sympathetic to the plight of the Cree people.

Wittenborn and Biegert have presented such material before. In 1981 the two produced a multimedia exhibition, highly documentary in nature, entitled “James Bay Project: A River Drowned by Water.” The show was based on three months of collecting information of all kinds – images, words, biological specimens and artifacts. Unlike many of the anthropologists and travelers who collected data and then were never seen again, Wittenborn and Biegert ensured that their stay was characterized by regard for their Cree hosts. Indeed, the show opened in the Cree village of Chisasibi before touring throughout the world. In turn, the Cree’s Grand Council invited them back in 1989 to report on recent changes in Northern Quebec.

“James Bay Revisited” is starkly resonant. It remains openly, perhaps naively, divided about its dual allegiance to art and politics. Housed in three interconnecting rooms, the art sometimes felt thin in material terms, even as it argued with eloquence that the hydroelectric project would result in immense cultural suffering and ecological devastation. The conflation of political and aesthetic messages demanded an unusual technique; many of the pieces evidence a kind of visionary didacticism, in which a part stood for a much larger whole.

The first gallery held a large, computer-generated printout of a caribou, meant to symbolize a catastrophe brought about in September 1981 when Hydro-Quebec directed overflow from the Caniapiscau reservoir into the Caniapiscau River. This decision was based on economic expediency, for if the surplus water was released through the power plants, the power would have been impossible to market. According to the wall text, Hydro-Quebec opened the gates for twenty-five days, and the resultant overspill killed ten thousand caribou migrating across the river toward their winter home. The Inuit people of Kuujjuag helped clean up the site, a week-long job that cost close to $600,000. With stunning hubris, Hydro-Quebec announced that the flooding was an act of God. The computer image is based on an actual photograph of the disaster: a caribou buck nearly overwhelmed by white water. The pathos of its repetition across the wall is initially numbing – until one invests the work with historical fact and consequent feeling. In fact, the show’s hortatory and aesthetic power revolved around the quality of the audience’s response – that is, the intellectual and ethical passion brought to the image.

In a show such as this historical awareness dictates everything. As Armin Zweite observed in the 1981 catalogue, “Wittenborn … groups all the cited facts around a context of suffering which, of course, no longer conveys itself directly, [but] rather unfolds itself alone in the consciousness of the viewer.” In other words, the real change, both aesthetic and political, is supposed to occur inside one’s head. This rings true. Wittenborn challenges monumental power with quiet images that stay close, aesthetically and historically, to Cree culture. As a result, often the show’s meaning must be expanded by a particular knowledge of the politics involved.

This was especially evident in the exhibition’s last space, containing large prints of five young Cree women. In their own right, these photographs conferred no innate meaning, except, perhaps, the suggestion of an anthropological study. Once again, exhibition notes proved not only informative but necessary. The young women are future mothers, photographed in a local hospital. It appears that the huge reservoir – flooding more than 4,200 square miles of Cree land – has been responsible, along with acid rain, for the presence of mercury in the food chain. Pregnant women have been warned not to eat fish at all. Wall notes made it clear that the Cree women, presented so impassively, are in fact being tested for mercury levels that could deform their children. With such background material, the photograph of a simple strand of hair assumed poignancy – that is, if one knew that mercury levels can be determined by analyzing hair samples. As in all the works, the image is meant to instruct and move at the same time.

The exhibition’s middle room, holding two mixed-media installations, was devoted to Hydro-Quebec’s effect on marine life. Last Dance for a New Skin had as its primary image a white whale drawn in outline on black fabric. About where its heart would be were two audio speakers emanating the animal’s calls and cries. The catalogue explains that the whales stay close to the rivers after shedding their skin, preferring freshwater to saltwater. If the second part of the James Bay project is completed, the rivers will be diverted and the whales will have to go elsewhere. Such changes would deprive the Inuit living in the area of a regular food supply.

For now, the political subtext of “James Bay Revisited,” the Great Whale Project, is off (there is, however, no guarantee that project will not be resumed). Wittenborn and Biegert must be congratulated for their effective melding of historical data, political perception and aesthetic form. Still, larger questions are unanswered. For the collaborators, working as transmitters of propaganda, there is no difference between the issues and the aesthetic means with which they express them. In a sense, the individual works are meant to stand as discrete events in the thoughts of someone committed to saving the ecology of James Bay. By fostering awareness of the problems facing the Cree, the art is admirable; but it also tends to be visually oversubtle. Viewers must bring much background information to their experience of the art, and it is primarily in light of what they know that their perception is energized. The wall texts and catalogue proved absolutely necessary for the comprehension of the art.

In many ways, Wittenborn and Biegert profoundly politicize what they create by reversing the usual experience of an exhibition – they would like us to think first and then perceive. Yet there has been a cost: their work sometimes possesses a formal isolation only the prose of a historical document might bridge. Involved in collaboration, the two men must have realized how their purposes and methods would sometimes split – that the intuitive communication of the artist and the factbased writing of the journalist would inevitably diverge. As political communication, the show demonstrates an acute awareness of its own intentions. Viewed as art, it becomes slightly less effective, for the filling in of gaps requires rigorous effort. The patience Wittenborn and Biegert ask – evident in the way the viewer needs time to take historical knowledge and use it to bracket and expand a formal perception – suggests new ways in which contemporary art can posit a spontaneous world, wherein our perception and our readiness to act coexist at exactly the same moment.

Re-assessing the Freudian theory of penis envy

Re-assessing the Freudian theory of penis envy, Jessica Benjamin has written of the father who is unable to provide active recognition of his daughter’s wish for personal agency, and is therefore “missing.” He is, she writes, “the key” to women’s missing desire,” and to “its return in the form of masochism.” Benjamin understands female masochism as the kind of self-abnegation characteristic of an “ideal love” situation like that around which Double Blind revolves. Admitting that women “may have no female image or symbol to counterbalance the monopoly of the phallus in representing desire,” Benjamin proposes for women “an alternative psychic register.” This register partakes of an “intersubjective dimension,” that refers to “experience between and within individuals” rather than the “intra-psychic” model of the “phallic mode of representation.” This viewpoint encompasses “not simply what we take in from the outside but also what we bring and develop through the interaction with others – our innate capacities for activity and receptivity toward the world,” a mutual rather than one-way recognition. It is precisely such “receptivity toward the world” that is embodied in Calle’s presentation of the memories, perceptions and stories with which various individuals have invested the sites and objects, be they stolen paintings or out of favour political plaques, whose physical absence she marks.

Benjamin suggests that this “intersubjective” mode is often expressed in terms of a metaphor of “inner space” where women have been able to discover “their own, inner desire,” and a sense of personal authenticity. Within the pages of Des histoires vraies, Calle’s personal stories and photographs tell only of loss and a resignation to the female position outside patriarchal recognition. It is when inserted into the context of pre-existent museum installations (as for instance, a photograph of a silk wedding dress and its accompanying story hung next to a case of antique lace and a Baroque painting of an aristocratic woman) that they cease to speak of “castration” and lack and begin to function very differently. Writ large, startling because so seemingly “out of place,” these tales of unrequited longing assert themselves with an authority and a plenitude of desire that literally fill the spaces that in so many other works Calle has made to signify the absence of her own power.

The search for male validation and the abandonment

The search for male validation and the abandonment by men informs Calle’s Des histoires vraies as well. In addition to several photographs and stories alluding to her unsatisfactory marriage to Shepard, a story is featured, next to a blank page, that begins: “I was in love with him, but he had decided to leave me;” and beside an image of handwritten pages: “I’d never received a love letter. I commissioned one from a public scribe….”; facing a photograph of a closed eyelid surrounded by black, a tale ends: “I didn’t know that that would be our last night: he was going to leave me.”

Des histoires vraies suggests too what the absence of the missing art objects in her museum pieces might, at least subliminally, signify for Calle – the book includes two photographs of paintings, one belonging to Shepard that she took as a “hostage” to insure his return. It was behind the other painting, she writes, that as a child she hid a letter which she believed revealed the identity of her real, absent father. The absence signaled by the paintings is the absence of the masculine, an absence that is always implied, although more obliquely, in her earlier work as well. If in Calle’s “detective” projects one is struck by her obsessive, quasiscientific enumeration of the movements and possessions of others, one is even more impressed by the state of fear and trepidation in which she carries out these investigations. And by the fact that it is always men whom she follows, as she has herself been tailed by a man. Her anxiety in Venice as she scouts out Henri B. smacks of proscribed, OEdipal desire (as does the later rifling through hotel rooms, likely sites of Freud’s “primal scene” – the copulating of the parents that leaves no doubt in the child’s mind that she has been left out of the family romance). Her preoccupation with Henri B. is presented as a forbidden one that feels somehow to her like an erotic attachment, with the fear of retribution most likely to come from Henri B.’s female companion:

I glide through the streets. A fear seizes me: he recognizes me, he follows me, he knows….I’m afraid …. I mustn’t forget that I have no sentimental feelings for Henri B. These symptoms, the impatience with which I wait for his arrival, the fear of this meeting, really doesn’t belong properly to me.

After spotting Henri B. with a woman: “She frightens me, more than him.” Calle dreams that the woman orders Henri B. to stop going outside, in order to sabotage Calle’s game. When he finally recognizes her, complete anti-climax: “What did I imagine, that he was going to take me away, provoke me, use me? Henri B. did nothing, I discovered nothing. This banal story demanded a banal ending.” Once she stops tracking him, each day unravels with the same sense of “absence.” Like the Las Vegas wedding of Double Blind, (and the faux mariage staged outside Paris weeks later, referred to in the film and a picture of which is included in Des histoires vraies) the gratification she receives is forced, stolen and ultimately empty.

In both the work where she has herself shadowed by a detective and again when she is photographed working as a stripper (seen in Des histoires vraies and the limited edition book La Fille du Docteur, ) Calle at once offers herself up to, and attempts to control or “own,” the male gaze. Laura Mulvey has written of the conflation of the desire of male film protagonist and male audience spectator that comes to bear on the movie showgirl (11); in Calle’s The Shadow project and striptease pictures she simultaneously places herself in the position of female object of desire and male (since it is a male detective who shadows her and male strip club patrons she refers to) observer. Here it is not a relationship to the OEdipal male/father that she attempts to procure for herself, as she did in the “saga” of Henri B. in Venice, but the entitlement and prerogative of masculine desire. Even as she poses for these photographs, trying to incite male longing and thereby assure her existence within the patriarchal order, she claims for herself the power to confer this existence by controlling the photographic gaze.

Biennale d’art contemporain de Lyon

Se tient dans le nouveau musee d’art contemporain construit recemment par Renzo Piano a Lyon la troisieme biennale d’art contemporain. La premiere du genre fut consacree en 1991 a l’art francais, la deuxieme en 1993 <<convoquait l’Avant-garde et insistait sur l’importance de l’engagement artistique>>. La troisieme biennale annonce clairement l’orientation unilaterale de la manifestation: presenter des oeuvres sur support film, video et a base d’appareils informatiques. Soixantetrois artistes internationaux ont ete invites a presenter des installations ou des travaux informatiques. <<Cette biennale, affirmeront les commissaires Thierry Raspail, Thierry Prat et Georges Rey, s’interesse a l’image mobile et presente le meilleur de l’art s’appropriant d’une maniere ou d’une autre, le recit cinematographique, la culture de la video et la pratique de l’informatique.>>

Cette manifestation tente de montrer de maniere panoramique l’etat de la creation dans le domaine des techniques reproductibles de 1963 a nos jours. Deux sections se partagent cette biennale. L’une se voulant historique presente des oeuvres des debuts a nos jours: les premiers detournements de Nam June Paik (1963), des TV-Decoll/ages de Wolf Vostell (1963) juxtaposes a des performances/environments de Dan Graham, Vito Acconci et Bruce Nauman (1969 a 1993). Font partie de la meme histoire, Piotr Kowalski et ses quatre Time Machines (1969 a 1995), Woody et Steina Vasulka et leur machine de vision (1976), Michael Snow et la celebre installation De La (1969-1972), Bill Viola et un dispositif en circuit ferme He Weeps for You (1976), Gary Hill et une installation recente <<interactive>> [quatre moniteurs presentes dans leur fly case sur roulettes proposent un montage rapide d’extraits de video tire de Solstice d’hiver (1995)], etc. Cette premiere enumeration non exhaustive indique la diversite du parti pris qui, meme s’il se veut mettre en evidence les thematiques du corps et de la machine, propose sans hierarchie des performances devenues installations pour la bonne cause, des travaux techniques de pionniers: une histoire certes mais sans cheminement. Des artistes paraissent avoir ete choisis pour la place qu’ils occupent dans le developpement d’un medium. Ils sont toutefois presentes ici par une installation recente qui n’apporte aucun argument a l’histoire de ce medium (Nam June Paik, Gary Hill, Joan Jonas). On peut s’interroger, consequemment, sur les raisons de l’existence de cette histoire…

La section contemporaine presente des artistes, chacun dans sa <<boite noire>>, qui dans d’autres circonstances auraient ete historiques tels Orlan, Tony Brown, Tony Oursler, George Legrady, Sterlac, etc. Elle propose egalement un panorama etendu d’artistes travaillant les nouvelles technologies tels Paul Garrin, Toshio Iwai, Laurent Mignonneau et Christa Sommerer, Jon Kessler, etc. Les travaux ont ete selectionnes selon les commissaires pour leur <<magie, leur interet pour le corps, l’identite, la prothese, le renouvellement perspectif des manieres de voir>>. Une autre serie d’oeuvres a ete choisie parmi la jeune generation de plasticiens utilisant le support video parmi bien d’autres, tels Marie-Ange Guilleminot, Douglas Gordon, Stan Douglas, Carsten Holler, Cheryl Donegan, Pierre Huyghe, Claude Closky, etc. Chacun de ces artistes a recuun nombre equivalent de metres carres plus ou moins obscurs dans lequel il avait la possibilite de rajouter des sieges pour eventuellement faire salle de cinema. Il n’est represente que par une seule oeuvre. Deux points paraissent importants a souligner dans cette generation d’artistes. D’un cote, ce desir de reconsiderer le contexte de presentation des oeuvres et les conditions de reception par le spectateur. (La salle de cinema, meme si de nombreux artistes retravaillent a partir d’archives cinematographiques, n’est pas pour autant le lieu ideal de monstration. Les artistes d’aujourd’hui preferent des lieux autres, a connotation plus sociale, tels un cafe, un bar, un parking, un grand magasin, etc.) De l’autre, la reemergence du narratif. Non pas le narratif lineaire obligeant le spectateur a une vision figee, mais le narratif permettant au spectateur de <<monter>> sa propre fiction. Il parait des lors difficile de comprendre l’absence dans cette manifestation de James Coleman, d’une part, et de Jean-Luc Godard, d’autre part.

De grandes expositions ont marque dans les annees quatrevingt l’histoire de l’art en proposant des panoramas d’oeuvres a base de techniques reproductibles. <<The Luminous Image>> au Stedelijk Museum d’Amsterdam, <<Video Skulptur>> au Kunstverein de Cologne, <<Passages de l’image>> au Centre Georges Pompidou, <<Signs of the Time>> au MoCA a Los Angeles ont fait le point sur ce type d’oeuvres en proposant d’ors et deja des connections avec les arts plastiques en general. Dans les annees quatrevingt-dix, apres les diverses biennales du Whitney et les expositions monographiques consacrees a de nombreux artistes exposes ici, il aurait semble necessaire de dessiner un projet eclaire tant par l’experience de toutes ces manifestations et de la theorie qui les ont entourees, d’une part, et de tracer les perspectives des annees a venir en faisant precisement surgir les concepts sous-jacents a des ensembles d’oeuvres, d’autre part. Certes les nombreux travaux a partir d’archives permettent de noter la permanence de la memoire. Celle-ci n’a-t-elle toutefois pas toujours ete sous-jacente a ce type d’oeuvres (Vito Acconci, Dan Graham, Jean-Luc Godard, James Coleman, Victor Burgin, Antonio Muntadas, etc.)? Une omnipresence de la narration aurait necessite un ancrage de ce theme dans la section historique et des rapprochements avec le cinema contemporain.

Cette manifestation semble etre a la recherche d’un statut, hesitant entre l’exposition historique (sans toutefois sembler prendre le temps necessaire a ce type de projet) et la biennale dessinant les tendances a venir, sousentendues par un ou plusieurs concepts forts.

Un catalogue papier qui presente les memes caracteristiques que la manifestation et un CD-Rom accompagnent la Biennale. Le CD-Rom realise par Jean-Louis Boissier pour la Reunion des Musees Nationaux parait etre l’un des catalogues hypermedia les plus appropries a ce type de manifestation. Il laisse en effet la parole a chaque artiste, presente l’oeuvre exposee ainsi qu’une selection d’oeuvres anterieures et quelques citations de textes sur la demarche de l’artiste. Le rapport qui s’etablit entre le texte (aux dimensions adaptees au support) et l’image fixe et en mouvement semble avoir trouve ici un juste equilibre.