“What, then calls me into question most radically?
These are the beginning words of a paragraph in Maurice Blanchot’s The Unavowable Community – one of the books on my Bibliography: the return project list. As I was browsing through the book, reading snippets, looking through the chapters and searching for a place in which to place an inscribed rose petal, Blanchot’s question caught my eye – especially as he asks this question under the subheading of “Someone Else’s Death.” Intriguing concepts Blanchot puts forward – that of death, of witnessing, and their relationship to identity and community.
Blanchot writes the first part of the Unavowable Community in response to Jean-Luc Nancy’s work, The Inoperable Community. The thought of literally ‘returning’ a fragment of Nancy text back into Blanchot’s book – in the form of an incribed rose petal, made me smile.
During my recent “return” to the Koerner library at UBC, I came upon a small installation in the foyer by the artist Luis Camnitzer. It is a collection of discarded objects Camnitzer found on campus, each mounted with a randomly chosen piece of text. The viewer is invited to make connections between the objects and the words. The pedagogical associations are inevitable, considering the location of the work – a major university library, and this aspect is underscored by the take-away card/advertisement, which lists a series of books available in the UBC libraries, related to the exhibition (even giving their call numbers).
I found the installation interesting and humorous and enjoyed looking at each object, reading the text and trying to make associations between the two. The installation plays with traditional theories of meaning, displacing direct relationships between object and word, and offering instead meaning produced in the moment, in an continuously changing and unstable relationship between the signifier and the signified.
(image: detail of installation by Luis Camnitzer).
This project brings to mind another art project, a superb blog posting, entitled “Daily Drawing Project” by the artist, Elizabeth MacKenzie. (check out the engaging drawing project Elizabeth gives her students). Art and pedagogy on multiple levels.
This past summer, I completed a video as part of the Withdrawn: scribing Nancy project. Made in collaboration with artist Cyndy Mochizuki, the video explores process, memory, the image, materiality and the intimate through the fragments of text appropriated from Jean-Luc Nancy’s essay, “The Image – The Distinct”. The video is now online.Thank you, Cyndy Mochizuki and Marc Hansen for your work in making the video available!
The video can be accessed at Vimeo. Type jasna guy touch, in the search videos box.