"ma"

MULTIMEDIA INSTALLATION ON MILK, MOTHER AND DEATH

CURRICULUM VITAE de J.P. GIOVANELLI

Unlike artists who maintain a tradition based on painting and sculpture having formal expositions in galleries and Salons, unlike artists determined to turn their back on tradition to rely exclusively on technological means, computer coming in first place, Jean-Pierre Giovanelli as some others artits close to him shows a completely different and original approach. That is the feeling I have when I am confronted to his "intallations" . Without denying the richness of the past, they open the way to a new type of filiation. If "classical" art used classical means, it seems nowadays that a new art is sketching out . Without disavowing the past, it is open to "invention" according to new technical conditions. " Man creates concrete tools and symbols as " Leroi-Gourhan stressed in "le geste et la parole" (gesture and word). Tools and symbols resort to an identical fundamental equipment in mans'brain.... language and tool are the manifestation of an identical characteristic of man. Thus our challenge is clear: We must take into account at the same time an emerging technology and the Imaginary in view of the period leading us to the threshold of next century- and artists should be the first to do so. This is why some artitistic manifestations are appearing that are aiming less at being an achieved work than at expressing the very movement of a search. The question indeed is not to rediscover the sacred vase containing Jesus ' blood as in the quest of the Graal, but to "invent" a new object, a new sense. Bet? stake? challenge? There is nothing else to do but resourcing the deep symbolism so often obliterated by the deviations of a functional society in the pay of the merchants. Motorists filling up their car at the gaz station would be very surprised to learn that they are driving along thanks to microorganisms accumulated during the first milleniums of our planet. Whereas their only concern is the cost of a liter of gaz . And for all we know Esso, Shell or BP are not thinking of replacing their own logos by an homage to Ga•a to whom we owe everything. When rules have been prevaricated, the very status of reality is at a stake. This is where some artists intervene and among them Jean-Pierre Giovanelli proving a particular acuteness. Thus with his installation showing real pieces of paper and simulated pieces of paper , the first ones being stiffened, the others flying ,as if our world was opening to implement a neither real nor feigned space the dynamic of which is moving as well our perception as our Imaginary beyond the millennialist way of representation. Space-time of a new type that, without calling on Einstein's relativity, initiates curvatures and branchings, in short" metamorphosis" due to interaction between "installation-spectators in real time". A further long thought should be given to these points but I cannot do it here. But lets consider Jean-Pierre Giovanelli's installation called "MA". We have a cubic shaped darkroom which is crossed from top to bottom by a cone . The opening of the cone is plunging on a round of old men's faces seized in the gyrating movement of milk contained in a semi visible tub. traces of light on the ground compose a kind of pearl necklace. The circular movement of the necklace takes up the milk movement while you can heard continuous children babbles through hidden speakers. What a disconcerting installation at first glance. There is no direct reminding but is recalls us no doubt of one of the most penetrating scene from Vichnou's myth: "churning the milk sea", one of the most beautiful representation that can be seen at Angkor. In a series of striking bas-relief gods and demons pulling a rope represented by the snake Naga are churning the milk sea to get the liquor of immortality to arise. All of them are craving for the liquor. For over a millennium gods and demons have been exerting opposed tractions , during that time the beauty goddess and the marvellous Apsaras dwelling the sky with their winged danced appeared . And finally the liquor of immortality came out of the heavy churned milk and is granted to the gods. Such a parallel and the details I am reporting may surprise you. But I have recently been to Angkor to have a closer look at Kmer art and I have been struck as I had been in Egypt, China, Corea, Japan or South America , to recognize the "upstream myths" that are the vocation of some contemporary artists. In order to avoid any misunderstanding, I make it clear that I am not speaking of "influence" neither of "inspiration" as it has often be the case in the past. For example when artists of the Renaissance were expressely paying tribute to classic Antiquity, even also when some modern artists among the most famous ones openly disclose their debt to African or Oceanian art. So paradoxical it might look, what I would call the "upstreams of technology" seem to rejoin the "upstreams of myth", in other words, their common energetic nucleus that took so many different faces during the past centuries, give rise to new expressions . Neither the themes nor the structures are taken up again, even less the representations even if they are transposed. Interconnection of forces implemanted by means of our new tools invents from the original symbolic thrust, appropriate faces to express it in this day and age. . And artists from our epoch work at "animating" them and giving them shape and movement. Might I say that "churning" is going on, that new creatures are born ? Colostrum, the essential part of maternal milk not only has a nutritious virtue but also a psychological virtue as scientists have proved. The baby, child or lamb is bound to his mother through the maternal milk he gets and the milk modifies itself as and when they need . Liquor of life which strengthens the immune system and develops the formation of the brain. Liquor of the "soul" creating the emotional bonds of filiation. Epiphanic milk coming down the luminous cone to plunge into the melee of virtual face. Not scale of ages any more but wheel of time ? From the young children's babble to the old men's vestiges, human beings evacuate to give place to generations crouching in the heart of the initial milk. Immortality means initiating the species. Jean-Pierre Giovanelli's installation looks like an antique oracle with the poignant accent.of our time. RenŽ Berger avril 1998