From 17 September to 20 December, VivoEquidem presents Ce Qui Fait Fragilité [What makes fragility]: the exhibition is organised by Nathalie Blanc, Director of Research at CNRS [the French National Centre for Scientific Research] and Emeline Eudes [Research Associate in aesthetics in LADYSS-The Laboratory of Social dynamics and spatial reconstruction, Paris]. The exhibition focuses on how fragility can become a contemporary tool to measure personal progress.
The exhibition is intended to develop over time through social networks, but starts with the works of six artists including drawings, videos, spoken word recordings and installation and performance art. All external contributions will be posted online on a dedicated website, including any texts, sounds, images and conferences.
The aim of the exhibition organisers is to present an artistic moment in the rhizomatic process, examining the structure more closely, and then letting the unhierarchical system of connections, constantly in flux, spring up and develop in space and time.
Illness was the starting point for this exhibition: particularly Nathalie Blanc's illness. The sense of fragility led to self-questioning, then to a transitional period leading to the possibility of change. The causes of the fragility of the human condition are, to all intents and purpose, largely unexplored.
Fragility also means being conscious of one's relationship with the environment, which today is a major stumbling block for the development of society. The prospect of an environmental crisis influences the potential for growth, modifies our behaviour, and has a direct effect on individual and communal responsibilities: fragility highlights the conditions which shape our environment.
What aesthetic gestures claim to be based in fragility?
The exhibition's Manifesto is basically a call to find ways of «working together» and «living together». The three dimensional objects try and show the invisible nature and phenomenon of fragility.
The Manifesto is projected through space from the centre of the exhibition. This device, designed by Philippe Brioude, questions its prehension by using a sheet of paper with scraps of texts that the spectator must try to read. They need to touch, feel and physically possess the paper to be able to read the text. This is a simple example of performance art based on something transitory which can be easily lost.
Similar to this experience, the work by Emma Bourgin in pure beeswax, uses light playing with reflections and diffractions. The raised door in the centre of the gallery filters the beams of light from outside and redistributes them through a natural wax filter onto a section of wall covered with a fine layer of whitewash. The matt, dull texture and tactile nature of the materials and their co-evolution over time added to the intensity of the light reveals certain living processes which are fragilised.
The return to simple raw materials and the image of the door as an opening to other possibilities, invites us to rediscover and use all our senses. We need to observe what is around us, including the inexactitudes our senses bring to light.
Facing the door is a screen showing a film which lasts for 39 minutes and 39 seconds. The title of the film is Clara-Clara, a double reflection of the work by Richard Serra exhibited in the Jardin des Tuileries. The film, directed and produced by Philippe Brioude, Amaury Bourget and Nathalie Blanc, underlines the fragility of human development beset and governed by our continuous self doubt.
Next are the enamelled liquid containers in fired clay by Emeline Eudes. If you put your ear to them, you can hear a sound which has been filtered by the clay: sepulchral but difficult to hear, the scraps of texts written by Nathalie Blanc, with a musical accompaniment by Amaury Bourget, eventually make sense. What we hear evokes the sounds of the cave of the beautiful nymph Calypso whose love was unrequited, or that of the «nobody» Odysseus and the Cyclops Polyphemus whom he tricked.
Spoken words can be deceiving and not fulfil their promises, which make them illusory and definitively fragile. The drawings on the wall by Natalia Jaime-Cortez, present fragility through the materials used: light weight paper which moves in the slightest current of air, imbibed with coloured juices which will eventually evaporate, render the work diaphanous. The fragility of the works is also related to their irregularity: the small variations created by each part which unfolds and each palette of colours used. Between static presentation and the artist’s performance, unfolding and folding the drawings, they are like the multiple facets, radiant and absorbent, of a game of language between oneself and the world.
Finally, the copies of the sketchbooks with anatomopathological drawings by Lucy Lyons, show the interiors of bodies attacked and deformed by disease, or skeletons with excrescent cartilaginous growths which end up hiding the human forms. These transformations and deformations show once again how fragile our hopes for human life can be. Life develops independently of our good intentions: it can follow a chosen direction, but also take an unexpected turn.
Finally, we need to know how to make this fragility into a contemporary tool to measure personal progress. Fragility is a form or personal progress, which cannot be recognised unless it is part of a whole: not just the ability to know oneself but also to recognise and know others. By others we mean all the others, including objects, events, subjects which form the heart of an aesthetic experience and permit an individual to grow and develop. We need to recognise the areas of fragility in these "others" to be able to recognise our own fragility.
Recognising this point of fragility, or breaking point, is a strength which enables us stand up straight. But we can still fall over.
Nathalie Blanc & Emeline Eudes