Le fil de laine est le support choisi pour signifier le cheminement d’une vie avec ses possibles et ses limites.
L’installation Penelope’s dream présente le trajet d’un fil passant par une machine à tricoter qui produit un long tricot. Au bout de ce tricot, la laine se démaille et repart pour être à nouveau tricotée. Des poulies transmettent ce mouvement. Le fil envahit l’espace, le traverse et le dépasse. Le travail de la machine, actionné par les visiteurs, emmène la laine dans une circulation complexe et fragile.
HD vidéo, 16:9, couleurs, 57secs, diffusée en boucle
La vidéo met en scène, dans un intérieur, le parcours absurde d’un fil qui se laisse tricoter sans fin à mesure qu’il se fait détricoter.
Photos Isabelle Vicherat
Texte écrit par Harutyun Alpetyan , curateur de l’exposition :
The sky was getting darker and the flickering torchlight made knitting increasingly harder. The stitches kept coming off, eyes straining more and more. Penelope decided to stop. She put aside the knit, came up to the window, flung her eyes over the sea gulping down the last quarter of the sun.A usual action and a usual picture that sometimes evoked unusual thoughts. Their sequence, however, always led to the same instance, just as it did this time, a deep breath and an involuntary sigh Penelope uttering, “Oh, Odysseus, what have you done to me.” She followed the last rays with her eyes, then turned back, went to the chair on which she’d left the knit, picked up the knit and started undoing it. She didn’t hurry, for the whole night was ahead. She was undoing the stitches one by one and following the outline of the thread’s motion. Again an action and a picture that became usual. Undoing, she was tracing all the thoughts flying out of every stitch. She was undoing and thinking. She was thinking of what would happen if she hadn’t denied the very first of those one hundred eight suitors, what would happen if she hadn’t denied any of them. She was thinking, who had turned to be more violent? Odysseus, who left her alone by now for three years, or those gods, who inspired this restless love in her? She was wondering what forced those one hundred eight to cherish a hope for winning her heart, and whether it was the same hope that she cherished, the one that forced her to weave the shroud for Laertes. Undoing with her tired hands, she was thinking of a time to come when the gods will endow humans with another ability and she will cease knitting with hands. She was thinking it would be an entirely different world. She was thinking how meaningful her trick would be if there was something else that made this work instead of her. She was thinking of her enterprise, of the arts, that eventually the arts had provided her an ability to avoid unwanted bachelors. She was thinking of wit. She was thinking what those one hundred eight would be doing now if she had left with Odysseus. She was thinking what Odysseus would do to them if he returned, and whether he would ever return. Thinking of the thread in her hand she was asking herself how had it happened that Ariadne left that clew to her, thinking that probably Ariadne was aware of something. She was thinking that no one would learn or at least be sure whether she verily denied those one hundred eight or not. Undoing, she was thinking that this story would provoke many talks. She was thinking of Duchamp, she was thinking that maybe he had in mind exactly those one hundred eight bachelors while making his large glass. She was thinking of the end of this story, she was thinking of the end of history. She was thinking that this story would be perpetually narrated as long as the art of knitting exists. She was thinking that its very existence was to render the history narratable. The last ten rows were left, Penelope continued undoing without thinking, simply following with drowsy eyes the outline of the thread releasing out of the unbound stitches. She didn’t feel her eyes closing; she fell asleep with the clew in her hand and dreamt the dream that by now had become usual.
This epilogue of Penelope’s Dream surprisingly and directly treats the concerns that are settled in the Timeline, a work by Isabelle Vicherat and Aurélie Dupin. Consisting of two parts, this oeuvre appears in fact as a guild of sorts, where the produced is consumed in place, in its consumption, however, reproducing itself again and again. The knit, which is coming out from the knitting machine installed on the table, is being undone at the same time on the opposite side. The thread undone reaches anew the machine via a complicated contour, becomes a knit, and is undone again. Useless in regard of material production, this workshop is still meant to offer non-material production in form of meanings. The spectator is offered to partake in this un-meaning-production. And what is more, without spectator’s supplementary efforts this machine as well as the whole production won’t function. The video, that compliments the installation, depicts another production functioning under the same principle, though in which the knit is made with hands and not machine. This difference makes one ponder the shift from manufactured to machined industrial modes of production, provoking deliberations. It also makes one ponder the effects that this shift has had on contemporary cultural production. Articulating the visible – the knit, and at the same time exposing the conditions and procedure of latter’s appearance – the sequence of joints and roller bearings, the Timeline indicates the fragmentary characteristic of our perception of any kind of production, particularly of artistic production. It’s interesting to notice how Isabelle Vicherat again reflects on the question of simultaneous production and consumption like in her recent work of 2012 Numen, where she presented a particular case of producing and consuming of hopes and desires in form of fortune telling session.
Filling an entire showroom, the interweaving of the thread moving out of the gallery continues questioning the margins and the meaning both of the work of art and of the institutions displaying it, evoking artistic events such as the work by Daniel Buren realized in John Weber’s gallery in 1973, namely Within and Beyond the Frame, in Buren’s notorious stripes hanging on the rope like a laundry were moving through the gallery’s window straight out to the street, announcing the outdoing of the margins of art and its presentation. Appearing as an instance of a decomposition of knitting – an activity rendered historically feminine – this interweaving, through the outline of the threads hanging from the showroom ceiling, reminds the viewer of Eva Hesse’s Rope Pieces of 1969, while the thread’s shadows on the wall, emerging as the part of the installation, force us to contemplate over the relation of the material and non-material in art.