Date Objectif Lune
« The eagle has landed, the lunar module is totally motionless and it’s a very weird sensation. For me, a space flight is synonymous with movement. But the module isn’t moving. » Buzz Aldrin, whose words these are, was launched into the cosmic void during the first moon flight. He and his fellow crew members began experiencing the « aporia of the arrow » expressed – twenty-four centuries earlier – by Zeno of Elea : the fatal motionlessness of the flight, a voyage, a point cut off from any point of spacetime reference. The concept of time and duration experienced by these astronauts flow into a present that is forever spreading outward. A now with no here.
Since, today, the work of art side-steps the area of (re)presentation in favour of the area of speed and lastingness, it is tempting to picture the artist, and his works, as a satellite: the flight of a projectile that is no longer connected to any external force of attraction, but is rather seeking its own field of gravity, a driving axis, a centre of inertia of a world, or rather a monad, spinning in astral time. The artwork as a black hole. A strange density, a notion of gravity bearing no relationship to the gravity we are acquainted with, forever eluding that arrow of time, that shadow which relentlessly defines the past, the present and the future.
This vision of modules spinning somewhere in the vastness does, needless to say, have to do with make-believe. But is the artist not that maniac who – like Gerry Smith – tries desperately to lift up this satellite and send it into orbit ? The satellite weighs a ton. It will never work, riveted to the ground by an earthly gravity that is definitely too overwhelming. But it is easy to foresee, in the energy invested by the artist, in his conviction, in his action, in the goal he has set himself, that the projectile has already found its orbital axis, that it has already found its own centre of gravity, launched into the void of cosmic time.
This goal, conceived as a possibility, an intensity, sheds light on the works in this show. Olivier Blanckart’s Scotch tape cosmonauts are anachronistic and ridiculous, Sylvie Fleury’s rocket is doomed to inertia, Patrick Everaert’s snapshots of rocky landscapes, Renate Buser’s photos of atrophied moons, Barbara Fässler’s orbital stations, all are the outcome of a manipulation, and Anton Marty’s pataphysical machine will never warm the universal void. Like Kenji Yanobe’s vehicle for the disabled, we witness a crazy team of cripples, hilarious nomads decked out for a mission which they must be careful not to make a success. The moon is never really the one we see.
So, further than the intra-worldly voyage, further than the exotic discoveries of other lands, other “tribes”, other natural and scientific phenomena, the work of art is capable of giving rise to the experience of non-transitive time, that same time experienced by astronauts who have experimented with the loss of all geographical point of reference. A real, on-line time, which, unbeknown to us, mingles with our daily life at the absolute speed at which electromagnetic waves are transmitted.
But faced with technological development, instant communication, conference calls, the data-suit and pressurised capsules, today’s art works contrast the sheet metal space shuttle, the concrete satellite, the Scotch tape space exploration jumpsuit, the blinkers and canvas vault of the heavens and the vehicle on casters, whose only luxury consists in a device making it possible to relieve his bladder without soiling the module.
No, the work of art is not this monad on the move above our heads. It is this crushing satellite that will never find its orbital axis. It is this resistance to human cockiness, to its self-satisfaction, to its clear conscience. It is this « stumbling block », that hidden surface against which anonyme blinded by too dazzling a moon collides.
Marc-Olivier Wahler translated by Simon Pleasance
Opening September 6 1997
Exhibition from September 7 to October 19 1997
Patrick Everaert, Sylvie Fleury, Matthew Ritchie, Kenji Yanobe, Jean-Luc Vilmouth, Anton Marty, vue d’exposition Objectif Lune, 1997
Matthew Ritchie, Sylvie Fleury, Patrick Everaert, vue d’exposition Objectif Lune, 1997
Jean-Luc Vilmouth, Anton Marty, vue d’exposition Objectif Lune, 1997
Patrick Everaert, Kenji Yanobe, vue d’exposition Objectif Lune, 1997
CAN Centre d’art Neuchâtel, Objectif Lune