“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.
This past summer, I completed a video as part of the Withdrawn: scribing Nancy project.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.
On Friday I had my first foray into the stacks at UBC, to start the process of returning the inscribed rose petals to the books in my “Bibliography.” (please see the page on this blogsite for further info on this project).
To say the least, the experience was a delight – enveloped in the smell of books, searching through endless rows, finding familiar titles and meeting new ones, pulling books off shelves and thumbing through their pages; looking for evidence of previous readers – marks, notes, underlining and anything else that might give away the presence of former touch. And, there was that added thrill of knowing that I was there to intentionally add something to that collection of physical evidence.
I had no idea how long it was going to take me to find each book, search through its pages, make notes, place one inscribed rose petal somewhere into the book, photograph the page or book cover and return the book to its original spot on the shelf. I certainly could not anticipate how engaging it would be to read sections of the books – the heavily underlined and “used” pages especially. What did other readers find important? What preoccupied their reading? Who were they? Truly, each mark, each trace, a “world…on the doorstep” to use one of the Nancy text fragments. It’s going to take me a long time to get through my bibliography.
Of the books that I explored on Saturday, 3 discoveries stood out – one was finding Foucault’s essay on “The Meninas;” another was coming upon a receipt of checked-out books from 2007 which included the book that I was looking at, at that moment; and the third was the discovery of a lovely tiny dedication, perched in the corner of the first page of an essay written by Mieke Bal. The dedication reads, For “A” in loving memory.
It’s been some time since I’ve written in this blog. I have been working consistently, but at the same time, feeling like I was in transition and simply not ready to commit anything to print (however virtual). I have started a new project in the intervening months, one that brings the Withdrawn:scribing Nancy series to a close. The project is called “Bibliography: the return” and I’ve written a little bit about in a page on this blogsite. (please check it out).
I’ve done two more of the large pastel-over-white-inscribed-rose-petal drawings. I print the images myself to the largest paper size that my printer will accommodate and then tape the pieces together to form the large petals. The pastel I use for the over-drawing is Schminke. It has a buttery texture, easily crumbles into a powder and the colors are super intense. I’m ready to do more drawings, but I’ve run out of the Schminke pastel, have to wait for an order to arrive, and reluctant to change to another brand of pastel in the middle of a series.
I’m revisiting the white petals that I’ve scribed so far, and using them as the basis for new drawings and narratives. Each petal is enlarged to 38″ x 39″.
Working on these large drawings is such great fun. The cerulean and cobalt blue are colors that I’ve used for over-drawing since I started the rose scribing process, but here I get to use the colors on a larger scale. The idea for the blue comes from Jean-Luc Nancy. In the essay, “The Image – The Distinct” (Ground of the Image), he says that “Every image has its sky even if it is represented as outside the image or is not represented at all.” I was intrigued by the statement, and thus decided to use ‘blues’ as trace references to Nancy’s text.