Of all the books by Peter Szendy, which so accurately articulate our history of listening, there is one in particular which attracts the curiosity of an amateur of art: phantom limbs, the musician body. Not that this book is truer or more passionate than the others, but it does enunciate the hypothesis of a body as a physicality with a contour or mass that could be incessantly reformed in the space between the instrument and instrumentist.
It suggests a form – a symbolic growth, a figure, or a trope – that we might be able to turn on its side, or even sidestep. Might there be, hidden in this text, an invitation to alter the way we look at form, in general, and at sculpture, in particular? This book might be suggesting new ways to perceive the consecratory “aura” of which Walter Benjamin spoke in regards to artwork. Can we think of works as prosthesis of thought, for an artist as well as for a spectator?
The exhibition stems from the desire to submit certain artworks to the gaze of the brilliant philosopher, musicologist and music historian, Peter Szendy. These artworks are not simply illustrated, but also inscribed, embedded in his approach of musical interpretation – they even feed a pretentious ambition to expand his theories or, at least, to amplify them. Certain works explicitly interrogate instruments as objects and the body’s organological link to these instruments, such as the keyboards by Jorge Macchi or Yvan Salomone and the hybrid instruments by Ricardo Brey. In other works, Céleste Boursier-Mougenot never stops exploring autophony or “idiophone-y” of other autonomous musical forms, whereas Isabelle Giovacchini tackles “etherophone-y” of untouchable instruments, similar to that of the theremin.
As for the works by Dominique Blais or Vittorio Santoro, they are more or less in the way of Stockhausen’s utopia, a dislocated music and “pan acousticon.”
Whether it is concerning Philippe Ramette, Claire-Jeanne Jézéquel or even Denis Savary, most of the artworks presented in this exposition give the reading of the body as a shell, bespeak the floating suspension of tides and the lingering traces beyond mere forms, and, in doing so, profoundly modify the relationship humans have with the world.
The exhibition phantom limbs, variations on a theme by Peter Szendy, proposes a reflection in two parts: the first takes place at the Xippas Gallery from September 4th to October 2nd, 2010, and the second during the Fiac, to echo Céleste Boursier-Mougenot’s presentation at the Prix Marcel Duchamp.
With the participation of Peter Szendy, a booklet Semaine will be published by Analogues, publishing house for contemporary art, during the week of the Fiac.