History of an anticipation
An interview between Nadia Barrientos and Armand Behar
june - 2011
For ten years, you devote yourself to the conception of one and single piece
of a Representation; this one depicts the horizons of an imaginary world. Implicit in the fiction- which is largely
influenced by science-fiction- you highlight some relics of an imaginary society in the course of pieces that you
show in exhibitions. And we realize that its stakes are finally not so far from ours. Deliberately, you use different
artistic mediums and so many supports. Can we talk about a kind of "Gesamtkunstwerk"?
Armand Behar: What
clearly interests me through this work is to question the notion of entirety
itself, of consistency
into a narrative construction. The viewer of my work,I hope so, tends to question himself about both spatial and temporal
boundaries of the fiction. He'll try to determine the consistency of the related story and therefore, of the imaginary society
to which I refer. As an object and by its format, the movie or the book ensures a kind of basis. And it's the same for projects
whose development requires a time factor (I think about serials or columns): the viewer knows where come back to see
what is going to happen next. History of a Representation brings the viewer face to face with questions like where?
And when? The fiction reveals itself at differents moments and through various places. Sooner or later, it's probably
that this last one will come to see me and ask me for a postcard, a poster, a playlist, a summary...or something that
enables him to get homself bearings. In the hearth of the project, I established a kind of esthetic protocol that I let
spread through time. I have not set any limits for this one. It's a continuing world. The global vision will appear consequently
at the end of the project, that is to say : at the end of my own existence. But I decided to create a systematic frame in order
to answer at this state of uncertainty. Its principle is quite simple: every two or tree years, I'm going to gather together
some produced pieces and I will ask to an art critic, a curator, a philosopher, sociologist...to contribute to writing in a frame
in which he 'll have to imagine -and that only from my pieces which work as clues - the twists and turns of the world to which
I refer. Like that, the viewer 'll have the possibility of consult this archives in the course of the exhibitions of my work.
How to tell a story? It's a question of language. My form of writing consists in creating a network of forms composed
by sculptures, installations, photographs...in order to build a fiction. To invent a plastic language in order to display
a story: that is the stake. All in my work (materials, colors, sizes and the way for my work to be in line with the exhibition's
space too, to integrate into the viewer or not) are closely linked with the matter of the fiction itself:the history of an imaginary
society haunted by its desire of transform the world into a representation, of live in a picture, in a way.
At this day mi different exhibitions have enabled visitors to know : that this world is divided in two parts, that there
are people from on high and people from on below. The inhabitants from on below get around corridors and look
at screens which keep an eye on the landscape of a peninsula which set in from on high. A peninsula
which gathers a large variety of nature : polar, desert, volcanic, exotic...and where population act as electronic
puppets. In order to go past the floor, one has to register in theaters where to learn the actor's profession and through
this, to become an useful puppet in order to integrate oneself into the picture's world depicted by the peninsula.
In the hearth of the fiction, so, this is a landscape which is a peninsula...but not absolutely at all. The island is an unity,
one can look at it in its entirety. A peninsula entails a gap, a vanishing line, an isthmus which links it together to earth.
If this peninsula is an illusion, its openness is a smokescreen. The question of the belief in pictures is another important
side of this work.
The pieces that you realize and that you chime out in the course of exhibitions
draw on the interpretation
of History of a representation but always through a partial way : they appear as patchy clues that only a reading as a whole
should be able to link together and to fathom out. I imagine easily that the end of the story don't form a part of your prospectives
and that's why you use its unfolding, potentially endless, as a pretext to write it, paradoxically. Beyond the apparent frustration
that could cause us the confrontation with cut pieces of an unattainable unity, I guess some echos with methods used
by archaeology. What about this?
Armand Behar: In
the first part of the story called La Déconvolution d'Euler that we write
together, the question of archaeology
appears clearly. This notion that you inspire in our dialog makes me come back to the origin, to the name of my project itself :
History of a representation. The question of representation into the writing of the story fascinates me a lot at the time. I interested
me in Paul Ricoeur's works and in the adaptation of his reflections to the art history. I enjoy thinking that the artist that realizes
s a work all his life long, write, at his own scale, an art history...the story of a representation. But what is really fascinating
in art history is that, at its two extremes, from prehistory to the contemporary, every day all can change. A new archaeological
discovery is enough : an end of wall, a tool, a roll, a parchment... All these objets give us information about disappeared
societies...They are like clues. Except the fact that the society to which I refer hasn't disappear. And if it exists, it seems to be ours.