les presses du réel

Palais #17

Jean de Loisy
(p. 17)

“From all these travels, I never used a single thing for my books. It seemed to me to be of interest to point this out, so clearly it shows that, for me, imagination is everything.”
Raymond Roussel, How I Wrote Certain of My Books (original French edition published in 1935)

The strange turn of phrase “Soleil Froid” [Cold Sun], the title of the new season at the Palais de Tokyo, celebrates the explorers of invented worlds. It conjures up the drawings of John Buscema who gave form to the frozen, solitary fate of the Silver Surfer, a hero gliding over his superluminal board, perfectly guided by the mere force of his thought.
The same is true of the library of Evariste Richer whose mind investigated the time and space gap uniting the very deep, lying under the earth's crust, and the very remote, beyond our galaxy. A reflection about the crystallization of the world that has turned into an imaginary library. A field of work whose time and distances are beyond human comprehension and which no star successfully illuminates.
The Africa of Raymond Roussel is caressed only by the sun of the mind. And it is true of the transitive works of Julio Le Parc, their decisive sharpness challenging the object as a presence, leaving it only the power to vectorize the magical effect of the light in which the dazzled attention of the viewer is absorbed. The signs the pale sun in question causes to emerge are those of the intelligence of artists who conceive plausible scenarios where the absurd and the sublime no longer contradict one another. Modeling sculptures in order to invent an archaic cinema in the digital age is the method adopted by Dewar & Gicquel to stretch thought from the Neolithic age to the praxinoscope with no respect for the order of time.
What does it matter, here we are setting off in the E Type Jaguar in the form of a hearse, sculpted by François Curlet, which leads us at breakneck speed on to the roads of mental acceleration. Associations are telescoped at a frightening pace, and words play fast and loose with themselves. By sliding from one cushion to another billiards get confused with old bandits.
The poetic genius of Raymond Roussel permeates the whole “Soleil Froid” season and this issue of Palais, causing us constantly to topple over into a different mental geometry. His chimerical geographies have made a concrete impact on our world, as if the weight of those imagined continents had altered the orbit of our planet. The trajectory of this controversial, discreet event represented by the staging of Roussel's Impressions of Africa in 1912 gradually hollowed out a mark, and does so even more deeply today, that has become intense in artists' minds. We remember Duchamp, writing about the “Large Glass”: “It was his Impressions of Africa that showed me the broad outlines of the approach to adopt.” Undeniable proof that the unreal has an impact on our lives. In these circumstances the works appear not as stable reference points, but as projectiles thrown into time, and making a lasting impression on our consciousness.

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