Le Paravent de Salses

    An exhibition curated by Vincent Romagny & Ceaac, Strasbourg, opening dec. 6th, presented until feb. 16th.
    Opening : Performance by Félicia Atkinson.

    Avec Félicia Atkinson, Julien Crépieux, Chloé Quenum, Jérémie Bonnefous, David Lamelas, Stéphane Le Mercier et Lauris Paulus

    ‘Every time the world is described a little differently,’ wrote Claude Simon to his publisher Jérôme Lindon in 1980, ‘it changes.’[1] A quotation that could sum up the spirit of this cycle of three exhibitions at CEAAC since late 2012. It may be that literature expresses more directly the effects we attribute to art, not only drastically altering our way of seeing the world, but also thoroughly changing that world (rather than just changing us). Where art gives rise to doubt, literature confirms it, convinces us of it and restores its real scope; but at the same time it necessarily makes readers of us when, despite the lessons of Marcel Duchamp, we do not always dare to be viewers.

    This is why, throughout a cycle in which each exhibition was linked to a textual arcana, we wanted to set visual forms resonating with a certain mode of thought, one specifically conveyed by a book. Here, perhaps, was the double, the Doppelgänger, with what we wanted to say already present in the way we had chosen to say it. A double, though, is not merely a rending, a lack, an abyss; it is a distinct form, just as, to quote Claude Simon again, ‘a book is also very much the idea of a form.’[2]

    The exposition Le Paravent de Salses (The Salses Screen) takes its name from the folding screen Claude Simon had covered with cut-out images in his house in Salses, in the Western Pyrenees. The screen’s fragility meant it could not be put on show here, as it could not, either, at the various events marking the centenary of the writer’s birth.[3] Thus the absent object provides the title for this final segment of the cycle, sharing the exhibition’s ambiguities (separation and splitting) and foregrounding them anew as it heralds its forms – paginated and printed – and its effects: production and possible fusion of spaces.

    This last exhibition borrows more particularly from Simon’s novel The Georgics for its polyphonic structure and its form (but not its subject matter), in which the double is but one phase in a process of broader proliferation. The novel merges the battles of three soldiers in different wars, in a continuous narrative that is also a reference to Virgil’s Georgics, a treatise on farming: war, too, works the land. The exhibition opts for merging points of view, leading the eye astray and multiplying opportunities for providing explanations it then systematically goes on to sabotage. Basically, just as in Simon’s novel, it uses changes of narrators, characters, eras, intertextual references and styles to offer an original reading experience, and culminates – perhaps more markedly than its two predecessors – in leading the reader off the track. We hope, then, that this multiplication of points of view will leave the spectator free to develop his own approach.

    Le Paravent de Salses comprises works produced and selected according to two lines of approach – and with no concern with formal unity: the first group shares the novel’s kaleidoscopic movement (Félicia Atkinson, Julien Crépieux, Chloé Quenum) and the second revolves around the book form, the most suited to transcribing polyphony (Jérémie Bonnefous, David Lamelas, Stéphane Le Mercier), the sole exception being a mix of the two (Lauris Paulus).


    [1] Letter of 14 December 1980, quoted by Mireille Calle-Gruber in Claude Simon, une vie à écrire (Paris: Editions du Seuil, 2011), p. 345.

    [2] Interview with Gerhard Dörr, ‘Biographie oder Bildersprache? Claude Simon über sein neuestes Werk Les Corps conducteurs’, Die Neueren Sprachen, no. 5, 1972, p. 296, quoted by Alastair B. Duncan in his introduction to Les Corps conducteurs, in volume 2 of the Oeuvres de Claude Simon (Paris: Gallimard, Bibliothèque de la Pléiade, 2013), p. 1440.

    [3] Notably at the BPI library at the Centre Pompidou, L’inépuisable chaos du monde, 2 october 2013 – 6 january 2014.