Featured Artists: Aurélien Froment, Batia Suter, Céline Duval, Christian Boltanski, Christian Marclay, Daniel Gustav Cramer, Éric Baudelaire, Fischli & Weiss, Gerhard Richter, Gilbert & George, Hans Peter Feldmann, Harris Epaminonda, Joachim Schmid, Johannes Wohnseifer, Luis Jacob, Marcel Broodthaers, Mark Geffriaud, Pierre Leguillon, Ryan Gander, Sara van der Beek, Sarkis, The Atlas Group.

 

Projection du cosmos sur une partie du corps dans le but de pratiques prophétiques. Foi dans les astres comme religion Babylonienne “d’état”. [Prises de notes d’Aby Warburg et
de ses collaborateurs, 1929].

Correspondances harmoniques: mode d’emploi
La pratique de l’épatoscopie comme exemple des effets concrets de la relation harmonique entre macrocosme et microcosme. La foi dans les astres, présupposé de la pratique divinatoire et magique, nait en Orient (appliquée comme “religion d’état” au près des Babyloniens), mais se propage ensuite dans l’espace (au près des Etrusques) et dans
le temps (astrologie hellénistique, médiévale, de la renaissance).

LÉGENDES DE LA PLANCHE NUMÉRO 1
– Foie en argile pour l’enseignement de la divination babylonienne
(Londres, The British Museum).
– Trois images de calques en argile hittites-babyloniennes d’un foie pour la divination avec des inscriptions en accadique, 1e moitié du XIV siècle avant J.C., retrouvé en 1907 à Boghazköi (Berlin, Staatliche Museen, Vorderasiatisches Museum).
– Foie en bronze, avec des inscriptions en étrusque, pour l’enseignement de la divination, moitié du IIe siècle av.J.C. (Piacenza, Museo Civico).
– Stèle en albâtre avec le portrait du roi Assurnasirpal II, IX siècle av.J.C.
(Londres, The British Museum).
Le roi de Babylone prie une divinité astrale [légende de la KBW], relief avec le roi Meli-Sipak II (roi de la dynastie des Kassites; 1204-1190 environ avant J.C.) qui présente sa fille à la déesse de la lune Nanâ; bas-relief sur une pierre de frontière (kudurru) de Suse, XII siècle avant J.C. (Paris, Musée du Louvre).
Des pratiques astrologiques orientales à la renaissance des anciennes formes [légende
de la KBW], panneau d’une exposition organisée par Aby Warburg en 1926-27 dans la KBW (Londres, The Warburg Institute).
Stèle Babylone avec constellations [légende de la KBW], “Kudurru” du roi Marduk-Zakir-Schumi I (851-828 av.J.C.) (Paris, Musée du Louvre):
* Sur une face: représentation en bas-relief de la constellation des Pléiades et un certain nombre de divinités babyloniennes, dont Ka-Di, dieu de la justice, et Baba, déesse de la santé (représentée par un oiseau)
.
* De l’autre côté: le roi babylonien livre à un scribe du temple un document relatif à une don. La scène est entourée par les dieux (de gauche à droite: Nusku, dieu du feu; Ea, dieu de l’eau; Nabu, dieu de la sagesse; Marduk, dieu de Babylone; au-dessus d’eux: Adad, dieu
de l’orage; Shukamuna, dieu des batailles).

 

 

Avec la multiplication récente des œuvres agençant en constellations des images
de provenances diverses, un nouveau chapitre des usages iconographiques de la
photographie dans le champ artistique pourrait bien être en train des s’écrire, après
les photomontages des avant-gardes historiques et les installations d’archives des
néo-avant-gardes. La référence anachronique au paradigme Warburg s’en trouve
remodelée.

— Garance Chabert et Adrien Mole, “Artistes Iconographes”, in Art21 n°25, hiver 2009-2010.

 

 

1:09:48

On ne peut pas s’empêcher de lire ce livre comme contenant, d’une certaine façon, une sorte d’art poétique. C’est-à-dire une réflexion sur une forme de création contemporaine qui travaille avec le montage, qui travaille avec le découpage, la disposition, la recomposition etcétéra; qui décompose l’ordre des choses pour le recomposer autrement, qui le re-fragmente qui le re-combine etcétéra. Cet artiste du montage que tu rapproches aussi bien de Baudelaire – les correspondances –, Goethe – les affinités lectives –, les déchirures, les batailles, les attractions – Eisenstein; mais qui débouchent aussi sur un travail contemporain, et sur une réflexion que tu as en ce moment sur les séries d’images, ou
les découpages d’images, ou les ensembles d’images dans laquelle – ou les collections d’images qui forment une sorte de matériau de création pour un certain nombre d’artistes contemporains.
[…]
Les Atlas, l’Atlas.
Le début de mon propos. Le début de mon propos c’est Atlas, l’Atlas.
Et c’est ça la début de mon propos.
C’est la partie supérieure de la planche numéro un de l’Atlas de Aby Warburg. Alors, comme vous voyez, en haut il y a des objets assez informes, ce qu’on voit au centre, au dessous là, c’est clair, c’est une représentation astrologique mésopotamienne et puis en dessous ce qui est magnifique c’est que Warburg met en abîme déjà un montage qu’il avait fait déjà. Donc photographié pour une exposition, un montage sur les questions d’astrologie.
Il était passionné par les questions d’astrologie. Moi je m’intéresse beaucoup à ces objets qu’on voit en haut, ainsi que celui-ci là. C’est des représentations de foie. Foie de mouton. Donc une exposition sur l’Atlas qui commencerait par un foie de mouton. En effet, chez les Mésopotamiens, même chez Platon, j’ai trouvé un texte incroyable de Platon là-dessus, bon. Chez les Étrusques, c’est dans le foie que se lit l’avenir. Voilà, donc il y a un texte magnifique de Benjamin qui dit «la vraie lecture c’est lire les choses qui n’ont jamais été écrites». Et il dit deux points: – et en effet il décrit l’Atlas de Warburg sans le savoir – «dans les entrailles, dans les gestes, – c’est à dire il dit dans la danse, les gestes – et dans les étoiles». Voilà. On ne lit plus beaucoup, on lit toujours dans les revues – Elle, Biba, je sais pas quoi – on lit toujours notre destin dans les étoiles, dans les noms des dieux antiques auxquels on ne croit plus mais qu’on continue de proférer – Saturne, Vénus, tout ça – c’est vrai que la pratique des foies divinatoires s’est un peu perdue, il y a des raisons historiques très précises à cela, c’est chez les Romains que ça c’est passé, mais bon.
Un Atlas c’est une organisation du – bon, le monde est d’une diversité effarante. Et un Atlas c’est une façon de remonter le monde. Donc ce n’est pas une collection. Une collection c’est – enfin oui, il y a des liens évidemment, entre – par exemple – les cabinets de curiosité et les Atlas; mais disons que mon point de départ – je disais toute à l’heure que mon rêve ça serait d’esquisser ce que Foucault a si bien fait avec les textes, c’est à dire d’esquisser une archéologie du savoir visuel, et ce qui me frappe beaucoup c’est que le début – vous vous souvenez que le début du livre Les Mots et les Choses c’est Borges. Auteur d’ailleurs d’un livre qui s’appelle Atlas. Borges. Et Borges qui cite cette Encyclopédie chinoise absolument farfelue, qui a l’air farfelue, mais qui n’est pas plus farfelue que commencer un Atlas d’Histoire de l’Art par des représentations de foie.
Je crois que la forme Atlas […] c’est une forme de connaissance par l’imagination.
Et l’imagination – comme dit Baudelaire – c’est la faculté de tirer – enfin de trouver des rapports entre les choses, rapports qui n’apparaissent pas à l’observation visible. C’est ce que dit Baudelaire. L’imagination c’est trouver les rapports les correspondances entre les choses qui échappent à notre observation habituelle. Et bien sur, une connaissance par l’imagination c’est une connaissance risquée, on peut très bien contester à Warburg que l’histoire de l’art ne commence pas avec un foie mésopotamien, on peut légitimement contester – en même temps, en faisant ça – et en particulier comme je disais toute à l’heure ça c’est la première planche, et la planche à la fin c’est une planche de divination politique. C’est à dire qu’il montre comment, précisément, le Pape s’entends avec le dictateur laïque – c’est-à-dire Mussolini – pour former un nouvel ordre du monde. Et cet ordre du monde ce sera, voilà, il a fait ça en 1929, il est mort juste après – mais si dans cette planche il y a des gravures anti-sémites et l’évocation d’hippodromes c’est bien aussi parce que à Hambourg en 1929 le Mein Kampf était déjà en vente depuis au moins quatre ans. Donc voilà. Tirer un trait, problématique bien sur, entre l’imagination et la politique.

1:18:02

— Discussion du 6 mai 2009 avec Georges Didi-Huberman au sujet de son dernier livre publié aux éditions de Minuit : Quand les images prennent position.

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Ce livre a son lieu de naissance dans un texte de Borges. Dans le rire qui secoue à sa lecture toutes les familiarités de la pensée – de la nôtre: de celle qui a notre âge et notre géographie , ébranlant toutes les surfaces ordonnées et tous les plans qui assagissent pour nous le foisonnement des êtres, faisant vaciller et inquiétant pour longtemps notre pratique millénaire du Même et de l’Autre. Ce texte cite «une certaine encyclopédie chinoise» où il est écrit que «les animaux se divisent en: a) appartenant à l’Empereur,
b) embaumés, c) apprivoisés, d) cochons de lait, e) sirènes, f) fabuleux, g) chiens en liberté,
h) inclus dans la présente classification, i) qui s’agitent comme des fous, j) innombrables,
k) dessinés avec un pinceau très fin en poils de chameau, l) et caetera, m) qui viennent de casser la cruche, n) qui de loin semblent des mouches».

— Michel Foucault, Les Mots et les Choses, Préface.

 

 

You are about to begin reading Italo Calvino’s new novel, If on a winter’s night a traveler. Relax. Concentrate. Dispel every other thought. Let the world around you fade. Best to close the door; the TV is always on in the next room. Tell the others right away, “No, I don’t want to watch TV!” Raise your voice–they won’t hear you otherwise–“I’m reading! I don’t want to be disturbed!” Maybe they haven’t heard you, with all that racket; speak louder, yell: “I’m beginning to read Italo Calvino’s new novel!” Or if you prefer, don’t say anything; just hope they’ll leave you alone.
Find the most comfortable position: seated, stretched out, curled up, or lying flat. Flat on your back, on your side, on your stomach. In an easy chair, on the sofa, in the rocker, the deck chair, on the hassock. In the hammock, if you have a hammock. On top of your bed, of course, or in the bed. You can even stand on your hands, head down, in the yoga position. With the book upside down, naturally.

Of course, the ideal position for reading is something you can never find. In the old days they used to read standing up, at a lectern. People were accustomed to standing on their feet, without moving. They rested like that when they were tired of horseback riding. Nobody ever thought of reading on horseback; and yet now, the idea of sitting in the saddle, the book propped against the horse’s mane, or maybe tied to the horse’s ear with a special harness, seems attractive to you. With your feet in the stirrups, you should feel quite comfortable for reading; having your feet up is the first condition for enjoying a read.

Well, what are you waiting for? Stretch your legs, go ahead and put your feet on a cushion. on two cushions, on the arms of the sofa, on the wings of the chair, on the coffee table, on the desk, on the piano, on the globe. Take your shoes off first. If you want to , put your feet up; if not, put them back. Now don’t stand there with your shoes in one hand and the book
in the other.

Adjust the light so you won’t strain your eyes. Do it now, because once you’re absorbed in reading there will be no budging you. Make sure the page isn’t in shadow, a clotting of black letters on a gray background, uniform as a pack of mice; but be careful that the light cast on it isn’t too strong, doesn’t glare on the cruel white of the paper, gnawing at the shadows of the letters as in a southern noonday. Try to foresee now everything that might make you interrupt your reading. Cigarettes within reach, if you smoke, and the ashtray. Anything else? Do you have to pee? All right, you know best.

It’s not that you expect anything in particular from this particular book. You’re the sort of person who, on principle, no longer expects anything of anything. There are plenty, younger than you or less young, who live in the expectation of extraordinary experiences: from books, from people, from journeys, from events, from what tomorrow has in store. but not you. you know that the best you can expect is to avoid the worst. This is the conclusion you have reached, in your personal life and also in general matters, even international affairs. What about books? Well, precisely because you have denied it in every other field, you believe you may still grant yourself legitimately this youthful pleasure of expectation in a carefully circumscribed area like the field of books, where you can be lucky or unlucky, but the risk
of disappointment isn’t serious.

So, then, you noticed in a newspaper that If on a winter’s night a traveler had appeared, the new book by Italo Calvino, who hadn’t published for several years. You went to the bookshop and bought the volume. Good for you.

In the shop window you have promptly identified the cover with the title you were looking for. Following this visual trail, you have forced your way through the shop pas the thick barricade of Books You Haven’t Read, which were frowning at you from the tables and shelves, trying to cow you. But you know you must never allow yourself to be awed, that among them there extend for acres and acres the Books You Needn’t Read, the Books Made For Purposes Other Than Reading, Books Read Even Before You Open Them Since They Belong To The Category Of Books Read Before Being Written. And thus you pass the outer girdle of ramparts, but then you are attacked by the infantry of the Books That If You Had More Than One Life You Would Certainly Also Read But Unfortunately Your Days Are Numbered. With
a rapid maneuver you bypass them and move into the phalanxes of the Books You Mean To Read But There Are Others You Must Read First, the Books Too Expensive Now And You’ll Wait Till They’re Remaindered, the Books ditto When They Come Out In Paperback, Books You Can Borrow From Somebody, Books That Everybody’s Read So It’s As If You Had Read Them, Too. Eluding these assaults, you come up beneath the towers of the fortress, where other troops are holding out:


  the Books You’ve Been Planning To Read For Ages,

  the Books You’ve Been Hunting For Years Without Success,
  the Books Dealing With Something You’re Working On At The Moment,
  the Books You Want To Own So They’ll Be Handy Just In Case,
  the Books You Could Put Aside Maybe To Read This Summer,
  the Books You Need To Go With Other Books On Your Shelves,
  the Books That Fill You With Sudden, Inexplicable Curiosity, Not Easily Justified.

Now you have been able to reduce the countless embattled troops to an array that is, to
be sure, very large but still calculable in a finite number; but this relative relief is then undermined by the ambush of the Books Read Long Ago Which It’s Now Time To Reread and the Books You’ve Always Pretended To Have Read And Now It’s Time To Sit Down
And Really Read Them.

With a zigzag dash you shake them off and leap straight into the citadel of the New Books Whose Author Or Subject Appeals To You. Even inside this stronghold you can make some breaches in the ranks of the defenders, dividing them into New Books By Authors Or On Subjects Not New (for you or in general) and New Books By Authors Or On Subjects Completely Unknown (at least to you), and defining the attraction they have for you on the basis of your desires and needs for the new and the not new (for the new you seek in the
not new and for the not new you seek in the new).

All this simply means that, having rapidly glanced over the titles of the volumes displayed in the bookshop, you have turned toward a stack of If on a winter’s night a traveler fresh off the press, you have grasped a copy, and you have carried it to the cashier so that your right to own it can be established.

You cast another bewildered look at the books around you (or, rather: it was the books that looked at you, with the bewildered gaze of dogs who, from their cages in the city pound, see a former companion go off on the leash of his master, come to rescue him), and out you went.

You derive a special pleasure from a just-published book, and it isn’t only a book you are taking with you but its novelty as well, which could also be merely that of an object fresh from the factory, the youthful bloom of new books, which lasts until the dust jacked begins to yellow, until a veil of smog settles on the top edge, until the binding becomes dog-eared,
in the rapid autumn of libraries.

No, you hope always to encounter true newness, which , having been new once, will continue to be so. Having read the freshly published book, you will take possession of this newness at the first moment, without having to pursue it, to chase it. Will it happen this time? You never can tell. Let’s see how it begins.

Perhaps you started leafing through the book already in the shop. Or were you unable to, because it was wrapped in its cocoon of cellophane? Now you are on the bus, standing in the crowd, hanging from a strap by your arm, and you begin undoing the package with your free hand, making movements something like a monkey, a monkey who wants to peel a banana and at the same time cling to the bough. Watch out, you’re elbowing your neighbors; apologize, at least.

Or perhaps the bookseller didn’t wrap the volume; he gave it to you in a bag. This simplifies matters. You are at the wheel of your car, waiting at a traffic light, you take the book out
of the bag, rip off the transparent wrapping, start reading the first lines. A storm of honking breaks over you; the light is green, you’re blocking traffic.

You are at your desk, you have set the book among your business papers as if by chance;
at a certain moment you shift a file and you find the book before your eyes, you open it absently, you rest your elbows on the desk, you rest your temples against your hands, curled into fists, you seem to be concentrating on an examination of the papers and instead you are exploring the first pages of the novel. Gradually you settle back in the chair, you raise the book to the level of your nose, you title the chair, poised on its rear legs, you pull out a side drawer of the desk to prop your feet on it; the position of the during reading is of maximum importance, you stretch your legs out on the top of the desk, on the files to be expedited.

But doesn’t this seem to show a lack of respect? Of respect, that is, not for your job (nobody claims to pass judgment on your professional capacities: we assume that your duties are a normal element in the system of unproductive activities that occupies suck a large part of the national and international economy), but for the book. Worse still if you belong–willingly or unwillingly–to the number of those for whom working means really working, performing, whether deliberately or without premeditation, something necessary or at least not useless for others as well as for oneself; then the book you have brought with you to your place of employment like a kind of amulet or talisman exposes you to intermittent temptations, a few seconds at a time subtracted from the principal object of your attention, whether it is the perforations of electronic cards, the burners of a kitchen stove, the controls of a bulldozer,
a patient stretched out on the operating table with his guts exposed.

In other words, it’s better for you to restrain you impatience and wait to open the book at home. Now. Yes, you are in your room, calm; you open the book to page one, no, to the last page, first you want to see how long it is. It’s not too long, fortunately. Long novels written today are perhaps a contradiction: the dimension of time has been shattered, we cannot love or think except in fragments of time each of which goes off along its own trajectory and immediately disappears. We can rediscover the continuity of time only in the novels of that period when time no longer seemed stopped and did not yet seem to have exploded, a period that lasted no more than a hundred years.

You turn the book over in your hands, you scan the sentences on the back of the jacket, generic phrases that don’t say a great deal. So much the better, there is no message that indiscreetly outshouts the message that the book itself must communicate directly, that you must extract from the book, however much or little it may be. Of course, this circling of the book, too, this reading around it before reading inside it, is a part of the pleasure in a new book, but like all preliminary pleasures, it has its optimal duration if you want it to serve as
a thrust toward the more substantial pleasure of the consummation of the act, namely the reading of the book.

So here you are now, ready to attack the first lines of the first page. you prepare to recognize the unmistakable tone of the author. No. you don’t recognize it at all. But now that you think about it, who ever said this author had an unmistakable tone? On the contrary, he is known as an author who changes greatly from one book to the next. And in these very changes you recognize him as himself. Here, however, he seems to have absolutely no connection with
all the rest he has written, at least as far as you can recall. Are you disappointed? Let’s see. Perhaps at first you feel a bit lost, as when a person appears who, from the name, you identified with a certain face, and you try to make the features you are seeing tally with
those you had in mind, and it won’t work. but then you go on and you realize that the book is readable nevertheless, independently of what you expected of the author, it’s the book
in itself that arouses your curiosity; in fact, on sober reflection, you prefer it this way, confronting something and not quite knowing yet what it is.

— Italo Calvino, If on a Winter’s Night a Traveler, 1979