les presses du réel

Palais #21 – At the Edge of the Worlds

Jean de Loisy
(p. 5)

Art is the geography of our consciousness. It has been developing for 40,000 years, through a succession of inclusions. The academic ring-fencing of practices and techniques cannot constrain it and, in the end, no one knows precisely where its borders lie. It is not even the margin that determines the surface area of the page, because there is no margin. The territory of art is not limited, because art is not a discipline, but instead a system of connexions between all forms of human knowledge and aspiration. From the beginning, it has embraced science, philosophy, spirituality, personal experience, physicality, politics, urbanism—and probably other fields beside—while toying with frontiers. May not some practices, lying outside the conventional field of “fine art,” claim to come under its sovereignty too? Are not many scientists—chemists, engineers, psychologists—who do not consider themselves to be artists, still inseparable from the history of modern art, given that their contributions have altered its course?
This is why, less than two years ago, I asked Rebecca Lamarche-Vadel to devote herself to the following question: is there any form of creation, outside what we call art, which could still concern us? We turned to such numerous and well-known guides as Niépce, Marey, Duchenne de Boulogne, Clairambault, Opicinus de Canistris, Zumbo, the Carmagnolle brothers, or else Carlos Espinosa, among others. Above all, we bore in mind Marcel Duchamp's famous question: “Can one make works which are not works ‘of art'?”
The exhibition “Le Bord des mondes” [“At the Edge of the Worlds”] presented at the Palais de Tokyo, and to which this issue of PALAIS has been entirely devoted, is the result of an intellectual and physical adventure, conducted by its curator, Rebecca Lamarche-Vadel, so as to bring this project to fruition, but also of the discernment displayed in her choices. We can here see the initial results of a research that could be endless. This research has been accompanied by the essential support, provided along the way by the great 14th-century writer Eustache Deschamps, with his marvellous ballade, whose refrain has become our motto, just as it could become that of all art students: “Il ne scet rien qui ne va hors.”

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