« Art is long and life is short ».
À la recherche du temps perdu, Le Temps retrouvé.
Regarding the most interesting literary phenomenons, of the end of this century, John E. Jackson wrote : « Tomorrow’s historian, especially if he’s a bit of a sociologist, will probably notice how incredibly popular the biographical genre has become in the last few years. When one considers that only one generation ago, every single page in « Le Monde », « Libération » or « Le Nouvel Observateur » — and I won’t even mention the specialized press — claimed the death of the author, of the subject, or that of the self, the backlash is brutal. To Lacan, who only expressed sarcasm to anything other than the dis-being (désêtre), to Derrida who only swore by the (obviously) anonymous movement of writing. To Some Other who only paid attention to the « work on the signifier », to all those succeeded critics who practice a « human comeback » which seems to be rid of any bad conscience. Could it be that (post-)structuralism was forgone ? »*
The artists brought together in this show are at the heart of this biographical enterprise. But far from any navel-gazing futility, what ties them all to one another and is deeply rooted in their work is their relationship to time, and more precisely its obsessional nature. Time as a « life project » Opalka would say. A complete surrender. Thus, the works of On Kawara, Jean-Olivier Hucleux, Hans Op de Beeck, Roman Opalka, Marina Gadonneix, Hiroshi Sugimoto or Alighieri Boetti, gathered here together, tell the story of the passage of time, of course, but mostly of the time spent working.
The strength of these works, silent, interior, becomes even more obvious.
To the heralded triumph of oblivion through a dull self-sacrifice, these artists oppose memory and persistence. The victory of remembrance and « being there ». As if the obsession, the mad pursuit, already lost, Hucleux engages in with his drawing, or Opalka with is painting, gave way to a reconciliation with oneself but also with the world, in the peacefulness of a work of art’s « time regained ». A manner of being infinitely present.
* Article published in Le Temps, February 20, 1999.
– Christophe Gaillard
Works by: Alighiero Boetti, Christian Boltanski, Marina Gadonneix, Jean-Olivier Hucleux, On Kawara, Roman Opalka, Hans Op de Beek, Hiroshi Sugimoto.