By Jacques Kaufmann
With Covid 19 acting as a catalyst, and with global warming which sees people resisting the actions that are required to face its inescapable reality, we are now faced with our interdependencies and our colossal collective fragilities, in a state of major disorientation.
This pandemic has revealed, accelerated, imposed, credited virtuality as a fundamental modality of the contemporary world, magically supposed to respond to the challenges of time. Pandemic and global warming give rise to a feeling of “Solastalgia“1. We have, in fact, entered a hazy “after world”, in which the Interbeingproject is looking for a way forward.
If you are a poet, you know that of course: 1 + 1 is more than two. You can also feel, as the scientist explains, what fundamentally connects the stone to the scent of a flower, through a long series of material transformations, bridges between the mineral world and the living world. The perfume is already understood in essence in the stone. A simple operation of the mind, the time of an intuition, makes it possible to discern it in the moment.
Everything that is, everything that happens, would therefore already be contained in germ elsewhere, as potential, allowing matter or thought to develop its forms.
Humanist spirit, my master Philippe Lambercy said long ago: “one can only achieve well what one dreamed well of”, the word “dream” to be taken here in the meaning of Bachelard: the dream which activates, which takes its source in matter, first step for an imaginary which seeks to be embodied, to take shape. What has become of humanism, imagination, incarnation, in the context of the virtualisation of our world? Were they already pre-inscribed? Where is the germ of the rupture?
Beings, cultures, languages, objects, realities intersect, overlap, enrich each other, destroy each other, fertilize, in one way or another, the world to come. By overlapping, by interpenetrating, they carry traces of their stories, both breeding ground and oblivion, reinventing and responding to each other over time.
Presented both in virtual and physical form, thus confronting current constraints, Interbeing is a project where there is indeed a place to visit in person, and tools to extend that into a virtual space. There is in the imagination of this project a series of collisions, like the bubble chambers of particle physics, where we try to reveal the reactions in matter, by their traces left during the impacts.
Objects were once produced in China, in a rapidly receding cultural and historical context. These objects moved to England. In response to this appropriation, the project’s curators are offering an opportunity for contemporary Chinese artists to reappropriate these objects from their cultural past, to position themselves in front of them, in order to (re-)configure an updated form. Whilst the historical objects are visible in situ, the contemporary response is presented in virtual form.
Appropriation, circulation, reappropriation, it is to these soundless shocks that we are invited, to perceive these renewed relationships between memory and oblivion, reality, virtuality and imagination. Unforeseen reactivations, interior movements respond to fields of forces whose origin escapes us for the most part.
The Interbeing project seeks to show what constitutes our time and our rapidly changing spaces and identities. Stretched between the need for change and our need for continuity, Inter-being is in our image, seeking the means to nonetheless try to come together, in this between-two-worlds that we share.
- Solastalgia: this concept invented in the early 2000s by Australian philosopher, Glenn Albrecht describes a place where we find ourselves but which we know no longer exists. Unlike nostalgia, looking to the past, it is a traumatic feeling invoking a future that cannot be. This concept fed the theses related to collapsology.
Under the perspective of the “umbrella of traditions”: transformation
“Tradition becomes true tradition only when it supports creation”. Kazuo Yagi
I am going to follow Kazuo Yagi on this path, and continue by saying that creation, with what it entails of change, of transformation, is a high form of respect that can be brought to a tradition, by a contribution that allows an extension, to update the components, without losing the essence.
There is a discussion that can take place with a tradition, over time, beyond individuals but carried by them. It is both stimulation and risk. The balance to be found is stretched in this space, between permanent movement or imposed stillness, in which life can find its way and its reproduction, in a non-imitative form.
It is within this framework that the invited Chinese artists are called upon to register, position themselves, and develop their proposal. Each of them can without any doubt claim a strong cultural anchoring, but also a desire for contribution which passes by the renewal of the apparent forms.
“And each to continue on his way”.
He is a Master1 of Archery. He returns home after a morning walk. This Master has a disciple. The disciple sees the Master coming back over there at the end of the path. He takes an arrow from his quiver, aims at the Master, who immediately understands and stops. The Master also takes an arrow from his quiver, aims, shoots, and the two arrows meet exactly halfway, and fall. The disciple, irritated by what has just happened, arms a second arrow, and shoots. Seeing this, the Master does the same. And the result is the same: the two arrows meet and fall again halfway. The disciple then becomes mad with rage and arms a third arrow, aims, and shoots. The Master wants to take a third arrow from his quiver, but it is empty. So, with his bow, he deflects the arrow just before hitting him.
The two men continue to walk towards each other.
At the moment of crossing, the disciple says: “Hello, oh great Master”.
And the Master responds: “Hello, disciple”.
And each to continue his path.
1’Master’ and ‘disciple’ in this traditional Japanese story can be read as ‘tradition’ and ‘contemporary practice’.