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Opposite nr 3

Polityka wymazywania. Pamięć, etos, reprezentacja oraz tyrania idei i widzialności.

Magdalena Worłowska / Let Self-Effacement be my Way of Blazing” – Erasure in the Vegetal Works of Philippe Jaccottet and Bob Verchueren

Two seemingly distant artists create their works in which they erase themselves as the subject or the author of the work as well as they eliminate presence of human beings in general. In this way, they are against the anthropocentric way of thinking in art. The defining motto of the Swiss poet Philippe Jaccottet’s creation: let self-effacement be my way of blazing can describe the creation of Belgian visual artist Bob Verschueren as well.

Jaccottet erases the frontiers between himself and the motif of his poem by writing for example: Je suis la ligne indecise des arbres. He is inspired by the minimalist model of Japanese poem haiku in which the effacement of the subject and the erasure of meaning (the use of empty signs and their repetitions) is a characteristic feature. Additionally, it demands the readers to be recipients of these empty signs without reference to reality. Verschueren in turn, erases in a way his role in the creative process. The nature becomes the co-creator of his works such as for example phytoprints created with fruits, juices, leaves and variety of plants. His wind paintings or vegetal installations are fragile and condemned to destruction, they come into being as living creatures do. Accordingly, their presence on the photographs is only a presentation of what has already been erased. These works are legitimated, because their degradation process was brought into play. Vegetal works with finite existence question the hierarchy in art and call into question the myth of persistence of work of art.

The main source of inspiration for both of the artists is the world of plants. In his works Jaccottet is concerned with the vegetal world of Provence. One of his collections of poetic prose is entitled Landscapes With Absent Figures which proves his interest in investigating the traces of ancient cultures that are vanished. He creates the work out of nothing: l’auteur tisse de ces rien une toile tremblante, plus convaincante qu’un tableau achevé.

The artists discussed create a hybrid of nature and art which speaks to the desire to connect with the non-humans. They postulate, by creating their art of “almost nothing”, the erasure of the frontiers between nature and culture. As Elisabeth Grosz claims: “Nowadays the frontiers between nature and culture undergo a process of erosion. Nature should be seen as an active part of culture as it constantly generates problems for culture - the problem of how to live in the material world, among other living beings and other entities”.