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Jochen Gerz
From April 4th 1987 to April 25th 1987
Oeuvres sur papier photographique

-”Avant-garde, what does this mean for you today?
- It’s a term that’s been used like other terms, like all words, as hypotheses. I’m not against discarding it provided that other terms are discarded as well.”

One may discard the hypothesis of the “avant-garde”, watch it become diluted in other converging, diverging hypotheses, interflowing with them, provided that their hypothetical nature has been acknowledged. In some ways, this has been done in the narrative and photographic methods employed by Gerz. It is not done in the industry of culture, as in many other things.

Gerz cannot completely abandon the hypothesis, then, and he does not vitiate its universalist pretensions, its militant character. Avant-garde, photography and narrative intermingle without really going in the same direction, keeping their own mobility while at the same time seeking the same state of “indifference”; the “thing” that results will have no specific “genre”, be it photographic, literary, conceptual, expressive. It is a kind of chaotic impulse, a gestative-meditative form that relates to what Kristeva terms the semiotic chora: a lethal state, archaic, fusitive, preceding any birth of a symbolic nature. Within- rather than beyond- these divergencies of genres or traditions, these works are, in the most neutral sense, regressive. Although they run counter to the idea of a perpetually extended avant-garde (towards the future), they are nonetheless not entirely slack (towards the past). They are rather distended.

Distended between the text of an immemorial human voice- murmurs that are sometimes mythological, sometimes meditative- and the image of instantaneous memories- repetitive, photographic flashes- of things seen and undoubtedly forgotten; one hesitates between the call (ear) and the recall (eye). It is the process of nostalgia. It involves stopping time in flight, letting oneself get caught between its extremities: instant/eternity, before/after. In opposition to the call (as trompe-l’oeil, since it is a text) is the centrifugal calligraphy of the photographic flashes, fractionalized memory, through which the real once again escapes. Black and white photography, like writing, like shadows, unquestionably falls within the province of abstraction. Between the two, between eye and ear, is a blind spot where time stops, whereby memory is activated. In flight.
-Guy Bellavance (translation: Jeffrey Moore)
- Press communication (Optica)

Bibliographie
Durand, Régie, Catalogue d'exposition. « Jochen Gerz; Dimanche, tous les jours dimanche », passages – Troyes (1981).
Gibson, Michael, "Vanishing Monument Against Fascism", International Herald Tribune, Sat.-Sun. January, (about J. Gerz' exhibition at the Musée des Beaux-Arts in Chartres)
Programme Goethe-Institut, Montréal. avril-mai-juin 1987.