A few parchments had been left in a dilapidated house on the edge of Mont Victoire some years ago. I opened a trunk and rescued those that had not rotted away. They will sojourn, for the remainder of the time allotted to this particular field of existence, on this link. Soon after the expedient disposal of the unnatural network, these images will be transferred to my personal hall of records among works I cherish, by other artists some of whom still walk the earth today. I cannot ascertain the identity of the author who may in any case wish to remain anonymous. I detected traces of a signature, and it appeared to say Astorisimus of whom I have never heard; that may be an anagram or an invention.
The works now presented summarize a momentary gaze at a realm that we imagine to be permanent. They offer an occasional humorous glimpse into the psyche of one of its partial dissipating inhabitants. More so, a pervasive irony mixed with a vague sense of forbidding passes through me as I look into the deep layers of the consciousness that once produced these drawings while losing my own sense of presence, lost indeed in the intricate games of light, line, shadows, colour, form and all manners of devices used by the artist in his attempt to invoke his own spirit. Some of the works are mere sketches, yet none fall into the banality of common experience. They seem to sustain a sphere that does no longer fully partake of the world, as we know it, a world that in reality is no more than a phantasm in which souls have to find their way to that which is real and will seek signs within the language of art as well as within the language of the heart.
I therefore, without further ado, let you savour these remnants of an unknown time and place: Adam in the Sleep of Prebiosis; Ancient of Days Giving up the Ghost; Ecclesiastic Thief Running off with the Supposed Philosophical Egg; Phantasms of an Illusory Being, Nativity of Numinon Beyond The World of Falsehood; Mirror-Mary Epiphany; The Twisted Truth of The Immortality Dilemma; Hierosgamos before Separation; Hermes Carrying Wounded Eros on The Draco-Sapienta; Flower-Dance of Forgetfulness; She Does not want to Play this Game; L’apparence de la Viellesse révèle Un Végétal Inchangeable à l’apparence Humaine; Lion-Cow Leading Lost Pilgrims; Three Legends Watching over the Dissolution of the Cosmic Brain-Unexpected call, circa 201… et deux esquisses.
I bid you farewell.
Three Legends Watching over the Dissolution of the Cosmic Brain-Unexpected call, circa 201…
Adam in the Sleep of Prebiosis
Ancient of Days Giving up the Ghost
Ecclesiastic Thief Running off with the Supposed Philosophical Egg
Flower-Dance of Forgetfulness
Hermes Carrying Wounded Eros on The Draco-Sapienta
Hierosgamos before Separation
L’apparence de la Viellesse révèle Un Végétal Inchangeable à l’apparence Humaine
Lion-Cow Leading Lost Pilgrims
Nativity of Numinon Beyond The World of Falsehood
Phantasms of an Illusory Being
She Does not want to Play this Game
The Twisted Truth of The Immortality Dilemma
A trip inside the hour glass…
left behind the mirror a few hundred years ago… somewhere
along a curved path joining a left ear with a right ear…
in the future of my mind.
“A live movement performance exploring the spatiality of breath, cellular forms and permeability. Engaging the shifting contours of the performer, her materiality and navigation of the environment, this solo work will inhabit the space of St Laurence’s Church, excavating fragments of another world with a non verbal, non linear language and presence. Over five hours, this form will generate its inner world in parallel to Huw Morgan’s installation for organ+electronics, Melos III.
The Vertical series was initiated in 2013 by visual artist and designer Moi Tran and movement artist Alexandra Baybutt, with theatre director Ria Samartzi. Joining this iteration is artist Pascal Ancel Bartholdi, documenting the performance in this unique space, built in 1968.
The performance lasts five hours and is free admission – you are encouraged to come and go as you please. At 5.30pm a concert of new music for organ+electronics will follow, given by members of Automtronic (Huw Morgan and Michael Bonaventure)”
Septembre 2015, Roundabout Art Space, Lisbon
Why Fenêtres instead of windows? It is a question of correspondence. The word
‘Fenêtre’ derives from the Latin meaning ‘opening for light’ where as windows from Old Norse meant, “wind eye”, a reminder that the surroundings in which our ancestors migrated moulded the root of language. Further more, the Latin itself derives from the Greek and possible Etruscan meaning “ to display, to show”. Lastly, “loophole “, another linguistic derivation, adds the extra dimension necessary for a cohesive coincidence between the two axioms (‘To reveal’ and ‘déjà vu’, seen once already), leading the mind towards a psychological apprehension of the image evoked by this association of words.
‘Déjà vu’ has come to signify a state of remembrance while the remembrance appears to have no source in actuality. Were it a dream, fantasy, hallucination or make belief, the ‘event’ leaves a strong sensory impression upon our person.
Here, ‘Fenêtre’ is directly linked to the object found on site, windows abandoned on a waste land where a carpentry workshop used to stand as well as, may be, a glass cutting factory, judging by the amount of glass panes spread around in piles, presumably used in the fabrication of varied wood artefacts such as cabinets or vitrines. I was invited as all artists in residence at the Roundabout art space, to explore that ground named “The other side” by Marta and Edgar, the progenitors of the art space project. That space also symbolised the ‘hidden side’ of Lisbon, and by extension, of other “ beautiful” cities such as Florence, Madrid or Paris. ‘Fenêtre’ also points to the idea of a possible passage, not so much for the body or for the gaze but for the psyche, and therefor constitutes a mental gateway enabling a journey back and forth between one type of environment and another, opening the senses to an extreme variation in their nature, sending us back to the ‘loophole’ effect. It points to the relevance of the term applied ‘déjà vu’ as the viewer becomes an integral part of the journey undertaken by the artist, not only in space but also in time. This can amount to experiencing a new signification arising from the combination of terms whose association is uncommon but not necessarily unnatural as seen in the title.
The windows no longer act as actual transparent surfaces through which vision can pass. The panes are covered with images relating to my direct experience of the place in which memory is being formed here and now. Yet a strange sensation emerges through the days and nights spent in a city I have, as far as I know, never visited. This sense of ‘déjà vu’ is puzzling but nevertheless very actual.
This subject being a bone of contention, I have also made my own comparative studies of the phenomena and can definitely state it is entirely different from for example the result of an exposure to an image saturated environment whereby ‘false’ memories would become embedded into or among ‘real’ ones. Followers of neurology also advance interesting yet incomplete theories relating to the chemical impact on brain functions, thus inducing a kind of artificial pre-cognition, although one wonders what could cause the ignition of certain chemical ‘explosions’. There are also those who ascertain the prevalence of the mechanisms of optics, the after effect on the retina and delays between actual perception and comprehension of the content of what is perceived as responsible for this interzone where the ‘déjà vu’ takes place. Perhaps all of these have their part in a larger puzzle. Perhaps too, different occurrences will lead to different types of ‘déjà vu’ experiences. This is not my primary concern since my use of the term is poetic.
The images, all analogue black and white photographs replace the transparency of the glass. They open a view into each moment at which I felt compelled to intervene by pressing the shutter release to remember, when watching the image appear in the red placenta of camera obscura, the feeling of that instant of improbable knowledge, where an intuitive emotional link grows between place and mind. Some of the images relate to a parallel story, grafted onto another, slowly creating a hybrid where colour is introduced by means of ink painted over in ways responding to the emotional and formal content of the image.
There are faces. Two individuals in particular embody an age-old relationship. One could see in them the original pair, from which humanity supposedly descends, this dualistic union, in any case, pertaining to most cultures on earth, to our great detriment. First and foremost, these portraits, in a given context, the wasteland of ‘the other side’, derive also from a text inspired by the ancient story of Salome and John the Baptist. How could this fit in the remembrance of a city I never saw before? I am referring more specifically to Oscar Wilde’s version of the tale read some years ago. Shortly before my departure for Lisbon, a new adaptation was put on stage, the news of which rekindled my interest and curiosity in the subject.
The Great Lisboa was once shaken to the core and almost entirely destroyed by a series of cataclysms in 1755, the gravest of which was the initial earthquake, itself the result of a friction between plate tectonics under the Atlantic. This friction is the basis of the concept attached to my version of the story of Salome and Jochanaan. While wandering in the city, I sensed the weight of a deep history that contains a set of universal truths, to the extent that the catastrophe engendered many dramatic changes in the human outlook on science, religion and philosophy, although fundamental departure from moral preconceptions and prejudice remains to be seen, at a moment where indeed the enlightenment, also bringing its Saturnian counterpart, was beginning to cause major shifts in our perception and interpretation of phenomena, space, and biological life, among other things. Lisbon in a sense was erected once more, this time from the ashes of a sacrifice. This sacrifice also constitutes one of the principal elements in my story.
Fenêtre déjà vu stands thus also as a metaphor related to deep-set archetypes enacted by historical and fictional characters within the theatre of the unconscious.
The work is site specific; half was donated to Roundabout, and the other was dismantled. All images still exist on film, and ‘partially’, in the virtual realm.
(The colour images are still missing.)
Copyright © Pascal Ancel Bartholdi 2015
On a technical note these images are derived from scans. They are far from the full potential of the originals which are analogue black and white . The film used was very slow and the lighting minimal. The shots are taken on a speed of about 1 second without a tripod. This was a dressing up night harking back to the 1920s, a perfect opportunity to continue my project Théâtre privé, Our Tronies. Some of the characters seemed to embody the spirit of that age, as if conjuring the effect of a time capsule. But this as usual became more evident on film. Something always happens between the chemistry of the atmosphere and the chemistry of silver particles reacting to the light changes. These are temporary reminders filling in until the real thing materialises somewhere in a dark room, some time in an unknown future.