News from infinity
by Rémi Labrusse
Imagine divers, rising up from the depths, bursting onto the surface and leaving traces in the glistening foam of the other, underwater, world they have come from. Their bodies, still bathed with the indefinable cohesion of the deep, manifest, by their breathing, movements and upward momentum, a power and harmony born of this deep that stays with them even as they erase the memory of it, by a single gesture, in the air of the outside world. In these movements, in the spurting water momentarily forming light-filled constellations, an intimate experience of the depths occurs and simultaneously dissipates; blind, mute, completely inexpressible other than through this leap to the outside it makes possible and yet is cancelled by. The big breath suddenly produced on the surface comes from the depth of the depths, its somehow streaming energy draws on the unfathomable but also consumes it and transforms the rhythm of the inner essence of the sea into the joy of emerging into the world: pure consumption, this sudden tearing of the surface, where, in one breath, their bodies submerged but their faces turned skywards, the swimmers weave together the inner and the outer like two key facets of the being.
Imagine Najia Mehadji’s works like these divers: come from a place that is out of sight and testifying to the predominance of the inner essence, which pushes them to the surface of the world but which, in its infinite depth, constitutes their original condition. What is this inner essence - this unfathomable sea? It is the inner essence of movement, of the body acting and feeling obscurely, by the very effect of its action, that something indefinable, measureless and limitless, constitutes it as a living body. The fact that the artist has had a strong awareness of this primal and invisible force is evidenced in the performances with which she started her life as an artist, in the late 1970s, when she drew in the darkness, with big sticks of charcoal, letting her hand, her arm, her whole body react blindly to the sounds she heard. And what sounds? Sometimes the sounds of percussionists, but sometimes also (and above all) her own sounds, those produced by the charcoal squeaking on big rolls of paper recorded by an electro-acoustic process (so the sound produced by the movement of the charcoal on the paper was amplified and projected into the dark space). By doing this, the drawing, in the most literal sense of the word, self-generated – not as an ideal form, detached from external appearances, leading to a world of essences but, conversely, because it reduced down to the autonomous and dizzying power of individual subjectivity : movement generates a sound that generates a movement that generates a sound, and so on; by the transition of the sound, the action of the body drawing produces nothing but itself, in other words nothing but an infinite expressive energy, perpetual movement brought forth by the movement itself, finding its source in itself. Nothing formalist in this, no fetishism of the form itself or of what it might represent: moreover, after the performance, the results drawn – or rather imprinted – were scrapped, quickly abandoned relics of a living action, like a snake skin after being shed. Such an approach is strongly phenomenological: completely led by the desire to stick as closely as possible to a process of manifestation of the subjective life, that of the sensible body affected first and foremost by itself – a principle that makes it supremely heterogeneous with this other kingdom that surrounds it, the kingdom of objects and the outer essence.
1 2 3 4 suite