"Medusa and the
double game" was published in the catalogue for an
exhibition at Alice Pauli Gallery, Lausanne, in
Medusa and the double
That sneaking sense that this is
just a dream, of never quite being in the real world.
That feeling of never being where one is supposed to be.
Hence the impression of not knowing the rules of a game I
must be playing in, whether I like it or
Perhaps we each play life with our
own rules, each in our own category.
Life as a game. A terrible game
with winners and losers. With inequalities, in a lottery
run by nature, that can disgust us. And some of the laws
of the game are fixed for all eternity: birth, death.
Social norms that we bend a bit. A personal code of
honour that we cheat with, sometimes . . .
Games, and especially sports, are
more and more like a religion for our topsy- turvy
pivotal age of the millennium. Redefining conventions,
new rivalries, ever pushing back the limits of physical
endurance. Social adjustments to be found. And in the
private sphere, new values to define. Yet another way of
playing with oneself, of fooling the other that hides
A double or triple game (or more),
because everything fits together like Russian dolls.
Because my pieces of sculpture (whether standing alone,
or grouped, "installed" or linked to architecture) often
mime games and enjoy the ambiguities in the game I play
to myself . . . in the world of art. A party game in a
creation that is perhaps no more than divine
And where is my self in all these
An irrepressible teller of tall
tales, each a parable of our time. With multiple hybrids,
humans with animal parts, rooted in the earth, in
vegetable matter. Some put on a bold front, others turn
in on themselves, but all are afraid of losing. Of losing
their dignity, or their composure -- or the friendship of
the spectator. Perhaps of losing their lives: what
happens when the game is over? Does everything stop? Do
the rules change? Is there a return match?
Telling stories, then. Stories to
be shared, to make people think. Stories that propose a
world, carry the spectator away into the motionless dance
of these characters, carry them beneath the bark, show
them what there is beneath the skin, beneath the carapace
of stone: that imprisoned life that wants to remain in
the spectator's memory. Beings to be thought about, but
also to be loved.
Does the scene take place in a
mythical past, or in some science fictional future? Are
these fossils from a time beyond memory, or are they
genetically manipulated mutants to come? Just beings of
the here and now, in the present of the spectator's
A whole people that seems to be
held by arbitrary rules (but where is the
Rules that are often laid down:
lines of conduct, borderlines that are not to be
overstepped, round the playing field. A register to place
milestones at the limits of the world, to create
territory to tame.
Thus the visitor is in a
multi-stadium, like an ethnologist on a planet petrified
by his presence, as if he has a Medusa gaze that turns
every living thing into stone.
Before assembling in the public
square, these dumb-struck beings, clever monkeys,
dog-men, monsters and diverse accessories, belonged to an
invisible people. One by one, they have crossed the
border that reveals them to our world.
They know that there are drawings,
portraits of them in black books that record their forms.
Notes that can sleep for years before they are called
upon. Then they enter a block of stone that is marked
with their shapes. A block that is often reticulated with
scratched outlines depicting other creatures, or
themselves from every angle. Their eyes will be opened,
their bodies shake off their cowl and throw off the
shards that hid them.
Assaulted from all sides in hellish
din, dense and suffocating dust, they are marked,
cauterized, and scarred with howling angle-grinders;
wounded, furrowed with chisels, and worn down with
pumice; broken, polished, they ultimately emerge from the
A metamorphosis that I do not
exhibit. A secret alchemy in my workshop that works fast
compared with their slow development. A rapid birth after
long gestation. A spark in time beside the lengthy
maturing of the rock that has often been formed by
organic deposits fossilizing at the bottom of a long-lost
sea: a mineral that was alive, soft before becoming
stone. Briefly, this material will display frozen
movement before it dissolves, erodes away.
Stone: how I love the freeze-frame
that this material provides, the fixing in time, the
weighty meaning so problematical today. Here my
contradictory spirit is at work, taking wicked pleasure
in walking out of step with the world, in sparring with
the acceleration of time. Be that as it may. But of all
the materials tried and/or proposed by modern chemistry,
stone is the one that, in the end, leaves me the most
freedom. The freedom to inscribe my stories in the
margin. It's also a material that fuses the mental and
the physical into the work, that attempts to bring
together scattered fragments and make a complete being
out of them.
This risky synthesis is
indispensable to a world view. It fills a life, slowly
wears out the body, and speeds the passing of the
The people of petrified beings
could not care less. The sojourn of these monsters in the
visible world far outlasts a human life. They exist in
the arena of ideas, seek to move in their immobility,
suffer cramp in their cornered efforts, and swell beneath
their skin of stone.
That is what they allow us to see.
But who knows if they will not take up their wild dance
again as soon as our backs are turned? Escape Medusa
while remaining in the visible world?
January -- May 1998
Translated by Peter