Figues de Barbarie

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I’ve been invited by Le Salon, a gallery in Nice, to take part in an exhibition next month and have decided to involve visitors in making an interactive story on the themes of the exhibition: “Fétiche, Totem, Tabou et Divan” (Fetish, Totem, Taboo and Divan). Each theme will be an individual story, and I’ve been compiling phrases from some of my favourite books to use as material.

The way it will work, is that I will start each story off with the first two lines and also give the last sentence, so there is some sort of direction for the interpretations. The selected phrases from the books all gravitate around similar themes and locations: a bedroom, a staircase, thoughts on nakedness and desire, philosophy, relationships, love and the senses. Each excerpt from the books will be printed on a sticker (in French) and I will invite visitors to choose from these which should be the next line of the stories. This will create a kind of exquisite corpse as the stories grow through the participation and interpretation of each visitor.

The last story, “Divan” will differ slightly in that it will be a script; a conversation between two people, kind of like the Bubble & Broccoli piece I did a while back.

“Figues de Barbaries” is the overall title I’m giving to the piece. The term, which is the French name for prickly pears literally translates as “barbaric figs”, bringing up connotations of savage practices or bearing fruit but not without consequences. It’s a random selection from a list of potential title words I keep in one of my notebooks, words that I like or that I have crowd-sourced from my friends. Random titles are part of another absurd experiment: they automatically lend another layer of meaning which resonates with the piece through the associations it makes in the viewer’s mind. This is a method I also used in the Love Letters love letters series and that I push further by actually giving the various dictionary definitions of the title word.

Books used are:

• Milan Kundera Risibles Amours, La Plaisanterie
• Franz Kafka La Métamorphose
• Roland Barthes Fragments d’un Discours Amoureux
• Vladimir Nabokov Lolita
• Patrick Süskind Le Parfum
• Lao Tse Tao-tö king
• Anaïs Nin Journals Intimes
• Cioran De l’Incovénient d’être Né, Syllogismes de l’Amertume, Précis de Décomposition
• Plexus magazines de 1966 à 1970
• Various proverbs, extracts from anatomy books and onomatopoeia.