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“Dwelling Poetically”

Roula Matar-Perret
Traduction de Simon Pleasance
Cet article est une traduction de :
« Habiter poétiquement »
Référence(s) :

Habiter poétiquement le monde, Villeneuve d’Asq : LaM, Lille Métropole Musée d’art moderne, 2010

Texte intégral

1This publication goes hand-in-hand with the inaugural exhibition celebrating the re-opening of the Villeneuve d’Ascq Museum of Modern Art, now known as the LaM (Lille Métropole Musée d’art moderne, d’art contemporain et d’art brut). The new museum comes with new buildings–an extension designed by the architect Manuelle Gautrand, housing the important L’Aracine collection of Art brut.

  • 1 With regard to the L’Aracine collection (donated to the museum in 1997), see Critique d’art, n°35, (...)
  • 2 The exhibition Hypnos : images et inconscients en Europe, 1900-1949, organized by the Musée d’art m (...)
  • 3 Heidegger, Martin. “Bâtir habiter penser” (1951) and “…l’homme habite en poète…” (1951), Essais et (...)

2The exhibition Habiter poétiquement le monde may originate from the L’Aracine donation1 and extend the research conducted both in the exhibition Hypnos : images et inconscients en Europe, 1900-1949 and at the conference Art brut, une avant-garde en moins ?2, but it involves a “reverse shot”. It actually uses “the process usually attributed to Art brut–isolation, compulsion and repetition, the merger of writing and drawing, magical thinking and “espaces-charge”, or “loaded spaces”–like so many tools helping to present works from different fields of writing, brought together to conjure up the act of dwelling, or living-in, in its poetic dimension. Those words taken from a poem by Friedrich Hölderlin ring out here–“[…] Dichterisch wohnt der Mensch […]”–, the thread linking the many different territories explored around experiences of presence, and being-in-the-world. This subject enjoyed a certain interest in the 20th century, in particular with the publication, in the early 1950s, of two famous texts by Martin Heidegger3, whose main themes are retraced by Anne Boissière, in her central analysis, in the way they help form the shift made by Henri Maldiney in his formulation of dwelling based on existence.

3This is why, in doing away with the separating walls in the museum space, the “Art brut theme” devoted to “Builders of the Imaginary” introduces the five issues of the temporary show–“Travellers’ Entrance”; “Between Two Spaces”; “Individual Arrangements”; “The Poetics of Elements”; and “Lost Edges”. The choice of these huge fields is connected with the method in which the catalogue is approached and organized: the constellation (that form made by albeit remote stars). This method permits the development of a moveable line of thinking running through the many multidisciplinary contributions, where overlaps and associations are woven through the pages. The “Builders of the Imaginary” built “the space within them”, day after day, the way the Facteur Cheval built his Ideal Palace at Hauterives, and Monsieur G his “imagining” house. These constructions–known through the eye cast on them by photographers and film-makers, without which they would have slipped into oblivion (Claude L. and Clovis Prévost)–express for us the special nature of this presence in the world, and the degree to which creation and existence are muddled in this conception of “life as poetry”, for which a few clues are provided in an Abécédaire d’une folie (Pierre Dhainaut).

4The transfiguration of the daily round is also what prompts “traveller-artists” to take the measure of the place of their sojourn, when this latter, right after the war, was undergoing a sea change. From Lettrist shifts (Guillaume Demey) to André Cadere’s steps (François Michaud) and Jíri Kovanda’s discrete actions, artists “test the world” (Thomas Hirschhorn), and also question its sidelines… when others choose to explore its confines, like Andreï Tarkovski’s Stalker, that smuggler responsible for the journey to the zone, that liminal space, that “counter-space where the values and hierarchies stemming from the societas no longer have any currency” (Philippe Macaire).

5Sidelines are involved, as are landscapes; those blown into the margins of letters and pages of newspapers, where microgrammes are intermingled, those “territories of the pencil”, of that “brigand” Robert Walser, who, “in his tiny space brings together the smithereens of the world, and of himself, and whispers his love of little things” (Marion Graf). Those of “thinking by maps” (Muriel Pic) at work in the writings of Sebald, revealing “the ghostly topographies of memory”, and those using cartomancy, following a “constellating thought” inherited from Walter Benjamin, as a grid whereby the narrative is woven.

6There are landscapes like so many inner journeys, transforming perception and presence in the world–those recorded by Laure Pigeon in her “notebooks of extended blanks” (Lise Maurer), and those drawn by the “symbolic architectures” of A.G. Rizzoli (Savine Faupin), trace a few blurred outlines of parallel spaces. Just like those which are unfolded by “self-archival practices”, part and parcel of an “aesthetics of existence” (Philippe Artières), taking the shape of a bundle containing a mound of a life around which is tied the ribbon of secrecy, or displaying itself, as in Anna Oppermann’s Ensembles, in the form of “proliferating rhizome-like compositions” (François Piron). When other “individual arrangements” act both as “projection and protective sheath” (Christophe Boulanger) and as Bonneval’s dress or Absalon’s Cellule.

7The fact that such processes and traces, defined by their refusal of any kind of pigeonholing and, quintessentially, by the infinite space of the margin, are thus presented within an institutional setting, certainly raises a few questions–those, for example, associated with their “decontextualization”, and their consequent limitation and conceptualization. So readers will pay close heed to the catalogue’s final text, in which Bertrand Ogilvie offers a noteworthy answer to the paradox which comes about when “Deligny is brought into the museum”.

8This book merits congratulation for the range of the traces of experiences presented and for the spot-on nature of their analytical approach. Above all because it rocks the walls of certain boundaries, and makes them wobble, presenting as it does that “open space which makes it possible to experience the world like a poem” (p. 11). If all that remains is (inevitably) just a fragment, it already gives glimpses of the immeasurableness of the poem, and its essential unfinishedness.

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1 With regard to the L’Aracine collection (donated to the museum in 1997), see Critique d’art, n°35, notice 233, p. 106

2 The exhibition Hypnos : images et inconscients en Europe, 1900-1949, organized by the Musée d’art moderne Lille Métropole, as part of Lille 3000, was held in the Musée de l’Hospice Comtesse (Lille) from 14 March to 12 July 2009. The conference L’Art brut, une avant-garde en moins ? was held at the Institut national d’histoire de l’art (INHA) on 7 and 8 December 2009.

3 Heidegger, Martin. “Bâtir habiter penser” (1951) and “…l’homme habite en poète…” (1951), Essais et conférences, translated from the German by André Préau, with a preface by Jean Beaufret, Paris : Gallimard, 1958, pp. 170-193 and 224-245.

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Référence électronique

Roula Matar-Perret, « “Dwelling Poetically” », Critique d’art [En ligne], 37 | Printemps 2011, mis en ligne le 14 février 2012, consulté le 23 janvier 2020. URL : ; DOI : 10.4000/critiquedart.1291

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