Sunday, 12 January 2014


The Necessary, the Urgent and the Notion of Excess

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

Received from Zahia Rahmani today

Paris le 12 novembre 2013

Chers tous,

Je ne serai pas ce matin au Centre Georges Pompidou pour une nouvelle sélection annuelle au rabais de candidats pour le programme dit de "Recherche sur la mondialisation".  Une fatigue qui s'impose. Un refus de cautionner encore l'imposture. J'ai dès le début de ce projet manifesté auprès du centre une collaboration qui n'a bien évidemment jamais reçu un retour quelconque. Je sais ce qu'est le racisme, je sais faire avec mais la bêtise je ne peux plus.
Il est peu évident d'introduire dans ce pays des "territoires" savants extérieurs au modèle occidental. Et j'entends que la communauté des historiens d'art ne parvient pas à accueillir en son sein les nombreux talents qui partent s'exercer ailleurs. J'assume de vouloir faire entendre un modèle français de recherche ouvert sur la diversité et la compréhension des changements du monde. Mais que dois-je constater ?

On annonce à Beaubourg un "symposium international sur la mondialisation" dans lequel aucun doctorant ou chercheur français issu du Maghreb, de l'Afrique, du Moyen-Orient et de l'Asie n'est présent. Et pourtant se sont les premiers à avoir inauguré ce champ de recherche mais on veut l'ignorer. Hélas, c'est à gorge déployée que le monde rit de nous et de cette farce. On dit que c'est "une réunion de petits blancs entre blancs" ce qui n'a échappé à personne, mais dont on se doit de répondre.

En France le racisme et la bêtise prennent des proportions qui jusqu'à hier faisaient encore rire. Mais que peut-on encore dire aujourd'hui de la honte que fait tomber sur nous chaque jour cette médiocrité franchouillarde affichée.

 "Tout changer pour que rien ne change" a été la marque de fabrique d'une certaine catégorie d'individus qui n'aspire aucunement à faire advenir en France l'émergence d'une exigence critique issue et née d'expériences historiques écartées jusqu'à présent et qu'ils voudraient maintenir encore à l'extérieur de notre histoire.

 Taire la médiocrité d'une telle imposture n'est plus souhaitable. Refuser d'y participer est salvateur.

Zahia RAHMANI
Ecrivain



«C'est dans le vide de la pensée que s'inscrit le mal[1] »

Monday, 20 May 2013

Self portrait, Southsea, first half of 1980s....Palais Royal and Luxembourg Fountain



 Le Gibus, Paris...
 Bateman Street Oakland, ph Kristin Ross, 1985
Passage du Grand Cerf before rebuilding

Thursday, 16 May 2013

Some queerish outcomes of archives....

Here I am just re-editing some photographs from an archive I used in Street Noises and commented at some length. In my view the archive - or at least these images - was first turned up to the light of day in the wonderful Cahiers gais, kitsch, camp, but appeared there without comment. 

I rediscovered them after what seemed like fruitless months in the Archives Nationales, remember, no digital catalogues, trying to make the words homosexual, invert, sailor, legionnaire rhyme and coincide. 

The outcome was this extraordinary record of the surveillance of homo sailors in Toulon and their friends, admirers and, sometimes, clients. Florence Tamagne rediscovered them again in her big book on Homosexuality, but without acknowledging either the Cahiers or me - (I often giggle at the provincialism of French scholarship....Anyway pics, then some pages from Street Noises.)

Entre temps, let me say, that these PERFORMANCES remind me why I never went with the Butlerian performative, that somehow, for me, traduced both J L Austin and gaiety..




The cover picture Hélène Hourmat gave me for Street Noises shares this poetic, uncannily, and that, if you like, is the pathos formel, an involuntary memory of an affect. It helped me to write, having this image in mind,





 So here are four pages from long-out-of-print SN on the sailors......... jpegs










Wednesday, 15 May 2013

More Images of the Paris Commune, an old exhibition

Here are some boards from the fifty or so that I made for an exhibition I made, in the very early 80s I think, for the Portsmouth City Gallery. It was an attempt to make a narrative out of image collage and juxtaposition, using as few words as possible, but plenty of written archive material, police reports and so forth, that normally remain the historian's secret. I wanted to dramatise the gestures of class struggle and social conflict and also to figure PARIS AS THE CITY ELECT OF URBAN MASSACRE, as well as most aspects of the Commune that were then historiographically current. 

This has much in common with the history from below movement in France and the work of Alain Dalotel and Jean-Claude Freiermuth, as well as, more ambivalently, Les Revoltes Logiques. Necessarily it was a bit more workerist than that and maybe more inspired by Lucien Descaves novel Philémon, vieux de la vieille. I'll scan some of these materials too in the near future.

All of this was made from my own slides, negatives or positives, often taken in quite perilous postures in archives and libraries and I printed all of it, apart from the small colour images, on different weights of Kentmere paper in the Fine Art Department darkroom. I loved this endless artisanal work and the rough feel of the display gave some sense of the difficult conditions of the survival of these bits of paper.  

The last two show some of the work of Gaillard and his son, with some pages from Gaillard's pamphlet on foot-shaped shoes, police reports and then, below, from shoes to Barricades, that Gaillard authored just as he had authored the gutta percha boot!



the enemies of the Republic, documents listing silver carried by Napoleon 111's defeated army and items from the Exposition... with satire, Victor Hugo

The Club movement of the late Second Empire and Commune, the upper image of the board immediately above is from a series of 16  unedited journalistic drawings in the BHVP, above Gaillard fils journal, see older posts on my blog for better definition.
 
 The image of the workers at the Exposition Universelle and as Criminals after the Commune


the Siege, famine, the middle class woman as christian charity



satires of priesthood

politics and photo-reportage


Petroleuses, club women, less than human, ready to die..


Death to, death of...




The Vendôme column, Courbet, Napoléon, Armould's signing of the decree of demolition


Thiers in three cartoons by Gaillard fils (my hero, if ever I were to queer the Commune it would start with him,,,,), below two more by him, Thiers and the Plutocracy, Thiers and Prussia

Aide memoir and repetition of images against rulers.. below, images of the end, the rag-picker as collector of the waste of the slaughter..


Here is a short note made fore a Centre Cath conference at Leeds some years ago where I opened for myself the question of queering the Commune, the lecture, in French, at the Centre Pompidou, where I do set out from the drop of cum can be found at, but no Commune Ha!


it is the fourth, all worth watching:


Saturday, 6 April 2013

Making do with power point, or the poetics techno-bêtises

Recently I have been working with almost extravagantly complicated power point presentations that, nonetheless, I hope, have little to do with multi-media or son et lumière or disco balls; rather attention, attending to, a co-attending of me and the listener viewer, speaking and hearing over and under, loosing control a bit. The idea - of course - is to build on the notion of the Mnemosyne atlas as a road map rather than as a prompter of voluntary or involuntary memory, maybe a map of future yellow bricks, with some kind of a surprise near the end, or just a predicted outcome that I have struggled to bring into visibility, or at least justify in its being seeable. 

Above you can see an overview of the Pitt Rivers museum in Oxford, a museum of the iterable and infinitely differentiated samenesses of human gestures, pouring, blowing, scraping, squeezing, attending (to) and so forth. Next to it is a page from the Edgar WInd Archive, to be found in the basement of an adjoining building, part of his slide-lists for his last lectures on Botticelli's mysteries, given in 1965. The trace of a rhythm of slide and voice, clunking, fanning, speaking, as the pieces are shifted here and there in the arguments until a magical Botticelli appears, a man who believed in the equality of humans and angels. Oh, sublime heresy. In a way Wind adopted the posture not of his teacher and colleague, Aby Warburg, but that of the Pueblo Indians in Warburg's Serpent Ritual, who danced for rain --- When Wind danced, it poured, sympathetic magic and pragmatism flowed together.



 And here, above, a little icon suggesting the presence of Wind's voice in his Reith lectures (I will get all these things up in time), which can overlap with that of Richard Tauber and the strange, other exile of two gay boys in Buenos Aires at the beginning of Happy Together, and, in Pitt Rivers, our attending to history's sounding in the silent vitrine.

Here is a download from you tube, a fragment of Sally Potter's Tango Lesson, beautifully in Italian (oddio), which also entrains the juxtaposition of images in mimicry and invention: 
...... while here is a loop
of one of JS Bach's
canons on the left
hand of the opening
of the Goldberg Variations, which I take as a guide to action, if ever we thought going forward and backward were an easy thing to undertake.
 
This is what I mean by theory......... But now I am showing my shows like comic strips, and I stay silent.

Things are not what they used to be ....