Taysir Batniji — Le monde n’est pas arrivé
Le monde n’est pas arrivé
Past: December 8, 2011 → January 21, 2012
Galerie Éric Dupont hosts Taysir Batniji’s second solo Paris exhibition. For the occasion, the Palestinian artist takes possession of the new gallery space with a set of recent works.
To realize GH0809 (Gaza Houses 2008-2009), Taysir Batniji, who wasn’t able to cross the forced blockade on Gaza, entrusted journalist Sami al-Ajrami to photograph houses hit by Israeli bombings according to precise specifications. (Between December 27th, 2008 and January 18th, 2009, a military operation had done more than 1300 victims — 65% of whom were civilians — and 5450 injured). The images are deliberately presented in the form of ordinary real-estate advertisements: each snapshot with a mundane and insignificant comment describing the house (surface, number of rooms, number of possible residents, etc). As he did for the Watchtowers series (2008), following the Becher’s legendary style, Taysir Batniji creates a discrepancy between a highly referenced way of representing images and themes peculiar to war reporting. On the floor, in front of this photographic installation, lie a few tiles in a builder’s clamp: an assemblage realized from one of the twenty-five preliminary drawings, representing fragmented, chimerical objects that were inspired by details of GH0809’s images.
One day, Taysir told me of his surprise upon seeing the words Le Monde has not arrived displayed in front of a newsstand. He hesitated for a second before understanding that it was about the French newspaper. The artist opens our eyes to details such as this, which casually make their way into our lives. Maybe it is when thinking of those “little nothings,” so present in his work, that Taysir writes in graphite letters 1,20 metres high on the back wall of the gallery: MINEDERIEN (a pun: a “mine” being the lead of a pencil and “mine de rien” being an expression meaning “despite appearances”). It is so true that any execution depends on the care and importance accorded to details.
The installation Socle du Monde, associating a mattress of carved cobblestones and a digital print taken in the darkness of the camera’s closed cap (Constellation), is a tribute to the famous Socle du Monde by Piero Manzoni (1961), itself a tribute to Galileo. The confrontation of antagonistic elements, concretely as well as figuratively, creates harmony from their very complementarity: the stone, mineral and heavy, carries the world as much as it represents the eternal return to dust; the mattress, support for dreams and place of conception, restores the mineral to its atomic essence. The digital photo lightens and transfigures the Pedestal by its immateriality. As Rimbaud said, from the shock is born the poem.
Not far from there are the artist’s keys, in glass. This object, symbolic of home and all that is inside, interrogates our collective conscience about freedom of movement, reminding us that this most elementary of liberties, the ability to come and go, is withheld from an entire. But more broadly, according to a principle of semiotic heterogeneity dear to Taysir Batniji, this crystallisation of property can be seen as a challenge to the desire for physical inactivity, possibly weakening our immobility — art’s included.