September 28th, 2008

In one of the drawings by Emma Hedditch that is part of the exhibition Archaeology of Longing, there are two characters depicted in profile. One is lying down on the ground, or, well, at the edge of the paper; the other one is just above, leaning towards the first. Both figured with short hair, and barely rendered with soft pencil and minimal lines, their sexuality is left ambiguous. They appear, however, in a moment of intimacy, the hand of one slightly peeking in underneath the other’s shirt. Their thoughts and speech encircled in bubbles lightly drawn over their heads. “We have been thinking about longing as a part of capitalist thinking which reflects in all our relations. Longing is connected to ideas and feelings of scarcity.” This is some of what a character says to the other.

As part of this exhibition, Emma also performed a work along the lines of this drawing; video documentation is here included. The performance took place on the evening of September 18, 2008, at the Musée de Montmartre in Paris, which is the vicinity of the exhibition host and organizer Kadist Art Foundation. Aside from Emma’s performance, the evening program also included a reading by Luca Frei of his The so-called utopia of the centre beaubourg—An interpretation, and a narration by Gérald Bloncourt of the events surrounding a lecture by Andre Bréton in 1946 Haiti. I will soon write about these presentations, too.

One of the galleries at the Musée de Montmartre inspired the decision to make the program there. It is the room (that is at most 18 square meters) dedicated to The Paris Commune of 1871, which started in Montmartre, and to the construction of the Sacre Coeur, which sits atop its hill. Condensed in this small gallery are items about the rise and fall of a historic political event led by working class struggle, along with documentation of the construction of its anti-monument, this was a basilica built, accordinging to David Harvey, to “expiate the crimes of the communards.” Disenchantment is at the heart of this display. The break of the spell that is the political awakening of the commune is the first sign of this, and the appreciation of a monument about but yet against their struggle follows next.

But, as I said, there are other reasons for choosing this museum as venue. Tucked in a quiet shaded street at the top of the Montmartre hill, the building that houses the museum was once the home of Auguste Renoir. In his Paris Des Avant-Gardes, Alain Rustenholz also tells that it is here where Renoir settled to paint Le Moulin de la Galette (1876). It was also the home of Émile Bernard and Raoul Duffy, and in 1906, of Suzanne Valadon and her son. She was the reason for why Erik Satie lived next door. In choosing this venue, I wanted to reactive the artistic life of this place with a live event and an artistic community, rather than through display and tourism.

Special thanks to Danièle Rousseau-Aicardi and Isabelle Ducatez at the Musée de Montmartre for collaborating with Kadist Art Foundation and hosting the program of September 18th, including Emma Hedditch’s performance.

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