Mimétisme et psychasténie légendaire takes Cari Gonzalez-Casanova’s book entitled Home Guard Manual of Camouflage - Manuel de camouflage pour la protection du territoire as its starting point. Inspired by the military manual of the same name written by Roland Penrose in 1941 for the British army, Gonzalez-Casanova’s publication reveals how and with what means politics of fear are implemented. Light is also shed upon the mechanisms of transmission and co-optation of fear on a public scale.
Home Guard Manual of Camouflage - Manuel de camouflage pour la protection du territoire is the fruit of research work presented in hybrid form: a crossbreed of reference book and anthropological study. It presents texts from disparate sources such as: military manuals on camouflage dating from after WWI until the 1980s; recent government security manuals; scientific studies on camouflage used by specialised military contingents; Boy Scout handbook excerpts on building a shelter; and other texts such as How to build your own living structures by architect Ken Isaacs, offering both practical information as well as utopian and sometimes absurd advice.
Written in English and French, the publication is divided into twelve thematic sections which include: Mimicry, Camouflage and Nature, Bluff and Decoys, Invisibility. In addition to these booklets, several authors from various domains have responded to Cari Gonzalez-Casanova’s request to contribute to the manual: Anne Casanova (psychologist and writer); Jean-Pierre Cometti (philosopher, editor and translator); Derek Hodgson (researcher in neuroscience, cognition, archaeology and anthropology at the University of York); and Brice Matthieussent (writer, translator, critic and professor of Contemporary Art History at the Ecole Supérieure d’Art et de Design Marseille-Méditerranée).
The manual is provided with a digitised version and a documentary video featuring archival footage of military camouflage strategies. This publication brings a series of projects by Cari Gonzalez-Casanova on the theme of camouflage to a close.
For Cari Gonzalez-Casanova, the techniques and strategies of camouflage are interesting not only for their visual or aesthetic qualities, but also for their relationship to the “Other”. For the artist, camouflage and its applications presuppose an analysis of the “Other”: their ambitions, fears, desires, strengths, weaknesses, and their culture. If we are to take all of these things into account, camouflage appears as an explicit answer to a certain “mythology of the Other”.
Home Guard Manual of Camouflage - Manuel de camouflage pour la protection du territoire will be presented at the gallery alongside several objects: furniture and other accessories were conceived by the artist using instructions taken from the manual, putting to use various strategies such as mimicry or dispersion proffered in handbooks dating from WWII and the Cold War as well as publications rooted in American DIY counter-culture.