I started to use paper more and more in my practice.
For economic reasons: the price of the material, the storage of the works. For ecological reasons: waste management, the natural origin of the components.
For its flexibility of use: you can take all or part of it, assemble, fold, the flat space can be transformed into a volume or a hexaflexagon.
Finally by the desacralization of the medium: culturally it is less intimidating to work with a paper, to reject it, to start and to destroy it than to do it with a canvas.
However, by turning a gaze to myself, the heart can bring to reason a reason that it should not ignore: our lives, until recently, were also of paper and mine in particular.
Our identity was validated by a piece of paper, taken from other papers. Administratively, in the national community and by global extension our existences were only real through a bound mass of papers. An existence is official only because a paper is there; the physical presence having no state truth – which makes living things nonexistent and some dead still living. And to validate the validation we still needed other types of papers, photographic evidence, portraits, memories, notarial deeds all coated and validated. It is known and understood.
More personally and like people of my generation and the hundreds who came before my apprenticeship was also paper. The notes, the writings of others, my production of thoughts were paper, because writing, sketches, diagrams, calculations, geometries. Most minds turned on paper. The reading of signs printed in a book gathering the cogs of the spirit which will continue by laying its thoughts on new sheets… and being able to transmit them, to oppose them, to make them alive, almost eternal. Upstream paper, downstream paper, drives the life of the mind. Virtuous in idea, productive in action.
However, the semantics had well foreseen and prepared the fall of the paper. When something is said to be « made of paper » or « cardboard » it is because it is neither solid nor provided with value and progress must replace it with « real » … we have chosen the digital way , non-palpable, difficult to grasp and reluctant to nuance.
Me and me and me and me…
We moved often and so in my childhood (still far too much today) surrounded by closed boxes – already cardboard is paper, eh!
In these boxes, books. Not much in fact because the 20,000 or so books were often taken out and exhibited first, along with the records. In the unopened boxes of papers. Tens of thousands of papers. Newspapers spanning 150 years, publications from such and such a grandfather or my father; correspondence or little words over several generations. Finally notes, drafts, aphorisms, tickets marked with a date, a moment, a meeting. All of this ultimately seemed to be the most precious, by its incompleteness and above all, especially the most embarrassing.
Here we are !
In this society which wants to be dematerialized (false expression 1- A server could not be more material / 2-we especially dispossess individuals of their particularities and other « little secrets of the Universe » to paraphrase Éloi Collet. – But I do not will not expand on this ground-.
I repeat: Earlier in this world, at the dawn of the 90s, I got my first credit card. I used it quite banal for my age (records, comics, T-shirt, beer…) on the other hand I started to stack and keep the withdrawal and payment tickets. Diogenic practice that I am pursuing. Maybe it was a small victory for me, of course I continue to accumulate, but even with these 35 years of collecting a poor boot box is enough to store everything (by adding bus, metro and train tickets). Gain level is a great success …
So much for the family pathology, let’s move on to artistic tics.
I notice pretty early on that the inks on the receipts fade quickly. If you leave a receipt in the light then in a few weeks it will become blank again. You can try. I also noticed that they react strongly to the heat of a flame: many fragile nuances appear when the expression of a lighter touches it. It’s a tricky exercise because you quickly get a little pile of ash but it’s very satisfying, even when you miss.
And I dreamed, imagined dozens of canvases or installations from this material – I continue to accumulate them, it is for the moment more certain (…) having the support, the subject but not the form.
The share of others
Another somewhat bizarre practice that I have with paper productions endemic to the family ecosystem and which is obvious to the statement of what is above: the impossibility of getting rid of it. Diogenes’ gene is not recessive. As I have a workshop, I have room (say the others) so it is with extra and natural that I inherited the storage of books and boxes from my father not shared between us and what has I was saved from the fire in my mother’s apartment in Lyon. It is an insignificant detail that the apartment is Lyon but in fact not because all these boxes which followed us (preceded us in fact) were intended for the Lyon apartment, the only property we owned and which was the skin of grief. ‘a wealthy bourgeois family declassified at the turn of modernity and its wars. And no mercy for the downgraded. Nobody wanting to get rid of the boxes and their contents, but nobody wishing to live with them either. The best is therefore to know them whole but not at home. So it’s okay with me. Between pride and loathing for clutter, a sense of immobility accumulated over generations suffocated me. I think long and hard about how to save space, how to ventilate my environment and release my own symbolism. Method, laws and rules! It was easy enough to get rid of damaged items with no memory present. They no longer contained anything tangible for us and if their aesthetics, their state or their originality did not jump to my heart then saying « bye bye » to them remained fairly easy. But that represented little in volume and the bulk remained these papers and these books. Even damaged or uninteresting the exercise was painful. I saw myself as a traitor or a vile coward depending on whether I managed to throw away the writings or not. But inexorably I collected them in the trash bag and hated everything. Uncool. So I said to myself that we had to do things differently: since I can’t throw out papers and books that are not « entirely » mine, I will do it with mine. Because ultimately I took on the role of custodian, which is uncomfortable. Methodically I wondered which book of mine would deserve to usher in the festival of the void. Without hesitation, I chose “La part de autre” from the inénarable EES, egocentric turnip whose reading gave me the unpleasant impression of having talent (not literary but talent nonetheless… an impression which was fortunately ephemeral and quickly cut off by the reading the following book). And yet despite the satisfaction of letting this piece of mediocrity fall, I ended up taking it out of the trash bag, like the other books before. A little annoyed I began to tear the pages. At least one irreversible act will put me in a radical and proud position. Well. I have the cover and the pages left. I can’t throw them away too. Given the energy set in motion at the dismemberment of the masterpiece, I just have to transcend this indigestible sequence of words into something visual and useful. I then printed each page of the book with a single matrix and arranged the pages one after the other in a large painting called « La Par de l’Autre » or the turnip soup. For my household issues, I was well advanced: a month of work and a place taken up by the book increased tenfold !!! But I also did, eventually, my first Ran. A Ran-1 thanks to my horrible flaws and to the mediocrity of an author who made « the short autobiography of an intellectual imbued with himself » to parody Howard Phillip and his « Short autobiography of a young person imbued with herself « .
All these indiscretions to mean that the paper is part of my being because I grew up with it, that through the papers I grew up in connection with the beings of the past and that if I have a more conscious and more technical relationship on the part my experiences with Asian masters, people from the cradle of this material and its transformations, I am also more aware of these other aspects, more intimate in the relationship I have with THE papers. My work is often ephemeral and perhaps in the contemporary art world I am a paper artist, even a cardboard artist. But this does not matter since the trace is in the nature of the life of a work and these papers in turn made and broken down mechanically produce other papers in the form of little words, publications or added monotypes- Words and codes disappear, traces on paper remain.
The paper burns and the Phoenix rises from its ashes.
And to understand everything, paper is a powerful and natural counterpart to the digitization of the world which until now has mainly sought to imitate, at magnification and with angles, paper. And like painting which has tightened in on itself by opening new fields with each new advance predicting its disappearance and emptiness, I know that paper has and will have unparalleled vitality and creativity.
Alea jacta est, as a general said, who used parchment and marble to write – noble materials but without flexibility.