Sunday, March 14, 2010

« Personne » au Grand Palais. Christian Boltanski.

Cette année, c’est à l’artiste français Christian Boltanski faire l’exposition Monumenta 2010 au Grand Palais. Son œuvre, une grande installation « Personne », titre sûrement choisi pour l’ambiguïté du terme. L’installation ne compte pas avec l’image d’aucun être humain, mais elle nous laisse voir des restes ou des preuves de la présence de l’homme dans le centre de son œuvre.

À l’entré on se retrouve confronté à un mur composé par des boîtes de métal rouillé, numérotées, qui couvrent tout notre horizon visuel. Qui nous envoient a un univers ordonné et systématisé. Le bruit, en première instance répétitive, est comme provenant d’une usine ; après deviens clairement des battements du cœur.

De l’autre côté du mur, on trouve des surfaces couvertes par vêtements rangés avec soigne. Qui nous font appel à la mémoire d’archive des camps de concentration Nazi. Ces surfaces rangées en carrées sont accompagnées par des battements du cœur plus prêts, plus individualises.

Au fond, une énorme montagne composée par des vêtements et un bras mécanique monumental que prendre et jette les vêtements encore à la montagne. Qui nous fait penser aux montagnes des corps humains, après crémés pendant l’extermination juif dans la Seconde Guerre Mondial.

Néanmoins « Personne » nous ne renvoie pas seulement à l’holocauste juif ; il nous fait penser à l’extermination mécanique, méthodique de l’homme par l’homme. À une stratégie planifiée qui fait devenir l’être humain un objet ; un objet au service des autres intérêts. Nous pouvons faire infinité des lectures de l’œuvre de Boltanski, nous pouvons trouver les traits des grandes massacres historiques peu documentées ou diffusées, des abus de pouvoir, une métaphore du prolétariat, etc

Cependant Boltanski nous donne de l’espoir, avec les restes des battements du cœur, les encore vivant, ils restent des traits de vie, il reste de l’espoir.

Sunday, November 22, 2009


One of the advantages of living in Paris is, all the events you can assist; gallery openings, exhibitions, conferences, art fairs, festivals, avant premiers all kind of cultural events. This weekend was Paris Photo turns.

I don’t know if I’m getting cynical but Paris Photo and the FIAC have been a disappointment for me, I can’t find anything really interesting. During my first experience within these kind of events I used to find them breath taking. I don’t know if the production has become impoverished as the market or I have been over saturated of images.

The Paris Photo and the FIAC seemed to be full of selling material, pieces that can be easily sold as decoration. The criteria of the pieces chosen by galleries and artists was aiming towards the market in a shamelessly way. I could rarely find a piece that deserved any special attention. Of course there were some pieces of artist that I’m not able to judge since I respect them much, nevertheless I do not consider them their best works.

As Henri Matisse has one said we should look at life with the eyes of a child, but my sight has been so corrupted by all this exposure to images. How can I find my way back to look at life with the eyes of a child, if creation begins with vision, how can I create out of this mess??? And appreciate Art again, be surprised, astonished, overwhelmed. I want to feel butterflies flying in my stomach again before entering to an art exhibition, as when I fall in love, I want them back.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

UNESCO. Second Global Forum on the power of peace. Bangkok.

Recently I was invited to assist the Second Global Forum on the Power of Peace organized by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in Bangkok. It was the first time I attended to an event organized by them.

I was quite pleased to meet extraordinary people who are really engaged in making a better world, kind of utopian even though I felt filled with hope, a lot of young, middle-age and old people working together to develop the power-of-peace network.

Nevertheless I could realize that most of these people, at least the ones who have a greater power and contacts to make this happen are filled of motivation and good will; but they lack strategy and intellectual knowledge to make it happen.

Their approach is rational and positivist, their goal is to reach mutual understanding in order to have universal agreements. The utterance mutual understanding is directly related to the public sphere; and the universal agreements we can associate it to general consensus, which of both are proved to be utopian and outdated (if we can say that they were applicable in a certain period).

The communicational action - action oriented towards understanding - which the mutual understanding and the universal agreement are counting on; and through which the best arguments (no matter the economic status, racial, sexual, etc. of the utter) could achieve a general consensus legitimized and accepted by all citizens is merely utopist; if we were to consider the socio-cultural heterogeneity (multiculturalism, ethnic and religious pluralism) stance which the UNESCO is operating on, a unified public culture is almost inconceivable.

Mutual understanding assumes a rational process and a common background between the parties. The former one is one of their biggest obstacles to achieve their goal; when speaking about cultural, religious, social issues we are not meant to understand, we can only be respectful and tolerant. For example not eating pork for the Jewish and Muslims amounts to a matter of faith, and it does not have a rational explanation, for it doesn’t need one, all it needs is to be respected and tolerated.

With the later one, UNESCO has to realize that it is not addressing to equals. I’m not speaking in terms of value but in opportunities and cultural backgrounds. A large amount of the world’s population is unable to express openly their needs and thoughts; even less the opportunity to express them through the use of ICT’s. I was quite surprised when one of the speakers Mr. …. A Thailand scholar affirmed that the traditional mass media are obsolete and outdated; his commentary seemed out of place since most of the people attending this conference worked or came from countries in development as himself, where traditional mass media still have a huge power.

UNESCO speaks about empowering people, so the first thing to do is: “recognize the level of individualization [...] and the growing sense and value of personal autonomy, a lack of enthusiasm for authority figures, and a disinclination to become a part of large organizations or entities, where one sees little chance of influence. [...] Instead, social horizons tend to emphasize personal life and the graspable local milieu. In this regard, it could be argued that individualization in an indirect way contributes to the engagement in the new forms of politics, as many citizens come to make political connections via personal commitments rather than overarching traditional ideologies.” (Dahlgren: 2009: 45)

The UNESCO could work on the notion of Global citizenship, since the people are suffering from a lack of motivation to involve in something; they share a feeling of bitterness and impotence. The cultural weather full of taboos, prohibitions, formalities and conformism creates a xenophobic, anti-migrant, racist, repelling society, can motivate them to work in a larger scale as many people are doing now, engaging with environmental, alter-globalization, etc. movements.

UNESCO first of all has to deal with an uninformed citizen, spreading knowledge about their own and other cultures could wake up their sense of belonging and curiosity towards the other. The knowledge and proximity can inspire respect and tolerance towards the different; and grow an individual sense of consciousness through the experience; becoming a way to prevent conflict and encourage participation.

UNESCO has a lot of work to do, but they have to find the right way to do it, if not everything is going to end up in good intentions and not into results. I know is difficult to regenerate an institution that was created 64 years ago. But their approach, philosophy, methodology and modus operandi have to be updated; if they want to stop becoming an obsolete monster. The UNESCO needs to evolve as fast as the world changes.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

LOVE (is in the air, everywhere I look around)

Just about time to write about Love…with the up coming Saint Valentine’s day. We’re being bombarded by publicity, stores dressed in red, teddy bears, huge heart-shaped boxes of chocolates, my mail is already full of publicity from Apple inviting me to buy a personalized ipod for my loved one and the airlines helping me to plan my passionate weekend, spas for two, a movie contest of romantic home produced movies (porn?), e-books to improve your skills on blow jobbing, ohh how many products and options!

Thanks god I’m in France and I’ll be able to escape a little bit from this Saint Valentine madness; even if they think they live in a free market, liberal industrial capitalism, they don’t know what they are talking about.

It is enough the very day life, love songs, love stories, movies, series … every way you look around is full of love, as the wise Magyd Cherif would say about sex and love: It is more important than school, work, knowledge; everything is about girls (or guys).
Do humans are obsessed with love? Or their imagination is so reduced they can’t think about something else. Writing, producing, acting; does it mean they do know love? Anyway it seems that you’re obliged to find it.

Alain Sechas. Le baiser, Rodin. Tourcoing suite (45 dessins)

So love. What is it? And why is everybody looking for it? I really like the definition Samuel Beckett gives it in “Premier Amour” (First Love) What we call Love is the exile, with a postcard from the country once in a while. And he says about the loved one; She bothered me deeply, even when she wasn’t there…..I didn’t feel well when I was with her, but I felt free to think about something else than her, and that was great… They are one of my favorite couples in literature Lulu/Anne and who ever; the other one would be Heathcliff and Cathy from Wuthering Heights.

I’m not a Grinch of love or bitter, but as you can see I have a twisted way to think about love. Where does it come from? I don’t know, my family, media, literature, personal experience, maybe. My idea of romantic love is, stimulating, passionate, intellectual, cynic, challenging, mad, free, fun, bitter, sweet, impertinent but never simple. Am I asking too much? Well I guess I will have to wait to find it, and keep on feeding my twisted conception of love; meanwhile I’ll keep on watching screenplays and reading novels.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Bitter Orange (Al Bortouqala al morra)

Al Bortouqala al morra (L'Orange Amère) is a Moroccan movie for the television, as the ones HBO and Hallmark produce, when I can have access to this kind of media content I never hesitate on watching it, it is always a great experience to know the contents produced out of western societies; surprisingly in Morocco the Telenovelas (Mexican soapoperas) are greatly known, but there isn’t a fair exchange of contents, we are completely ignorant about what do they produce. As we know Internet opens up new opportunities of diffusion for this kind of productions so for this and other reasons I watched it on line.

After watching it, I was confused I didn’t know If I like it or not, so I started reading the commentaries of the people who has also watch it; as Dayan, the French thinker will say “The experience that consists on watching television cannot be described in simply individual terms. “To watch is to watch with”, is to enter in an interaction from a reverse angle, made up of all those watching simultaneously the same televisual image.” Well it is not TV, neither simultaneously, it also links with the intimacy television, because they not only give expression to their opinion about the movie, but how it relates to themselves. So I became even more confused, we need some theoretical studies about this.

So as I was saying I don’t know if I like it or not, most of the people did; they describe it as the best Moroccan movie ever, beautiful, marvelous, “it is one of the most beautiful movies I have ever seen, I loved so much the end of the story, when the movie began I was wondering if they will ever meet again; even if the circumstances were difficult. I cried, tears of joy and sadness when they see each other, the two characters who are strangers but have loved each other from the first sight” (commentary about: Al Bortouqala al morra - Orange amère on

I could say it is a beautiful drama but I could also say it is a cheap sexist plot. Why could it be beautiful? The idea of love, pure, uninterested, first sight, lifetime longing love is a feeling that move us all, the mere possibility of the existence of this kind of feeling, emotion or condition. Allowing yourself to love to the point of becoming crazy, losing the eager to live, forgetting about yourself renouncing to any kind of gratification from the life in society, renouncing to the pleasures, even to romantic love itself, giving up everything to live out of platonic love. It isn’t a simple mourning for the lost love.

Why it could be a sexist plot? Saadia our heroine lives in a repressive civilization; first of all she lives at home with her parents, she has never been to school, so she is illiterate; she is obliged to ask her friends to write her love letters. Her whole life is based on getting married; she is used to receive suitors asking for her hand in marriage. But she falls in love with the policeman, in this repressive society she does everything she can to win his affection, she just writes a letter because she is not aloud to do anything else, even it is too much. 

She waits and waits for a reply, she never gets one, and she finds out he is going to get married. As her life doesn’t have any other purpose than getting married she becomes crazy and homeless. Meanwhile our hero Amine, he is also in love with Saadia, but he never tries to find her, he decides to follow the flow and accomplish the expectations of the society and his mother; getting married. This story is unfair for both to men and women. Men are pictured as not capable of a greater love as women do, they are lazy and selfish; they couldn’t give up everything for love. Women are too sentimental and the lack of rationality that surounds them, make them  to lose everything for true love.

Well I still don’t know if I like it or not, I’m sure it depends on many things, the momentary mood, the experience with love, what do you think about love, how you were raised (family values), in what kind of society you were raised, the roles of women and men according to the society you live in, and your opinion about it…..

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Meeting the French Youth

Yesterday while showing Lyon to some friends we met a young guy when watching some break-dancer practice in the Opera building, he offered to show us the spot where the techtonik dancers practice, since my friends have never seen this kind of urban dance and I couldn’t miss this sociological chance we were happy to follow him. It was a lifetime ethnographic opportunity because it is difficult as a foreigner and older person to manage your way in.

Our guide was a maghribian gangsta rapper, break-dancer and also the organizer of the dance battles (break-dance vs techtonik), he was the one who managed to expulse the techtonik dancers from the Opera building, and he isn’t older than 16!!! He seems to have the business under control, he knows everybody around, almost every teenager who crossed our way came to say hello. He dresses differently, like a grown up so he can be taken seriously, trousers, shirt, sweater, jacket and briefcase.

When you see the French youth, you can barely make any distinction between them, maybe just the color of their skin, white, brown or black; but they all dress, make up and comb alike, their body language tries to show how bad ass they are, both girls and boys,  call each other (dirty) bitches and pimps. They follow the mass media stereotype of the black ghetto community in US; thanks god they do not limp when walking! For being French, they are very attached to this model, but they don’t seem to acknowledge the level of their consumption. They think the Techtonik is purely French and they ignore the influences they have.

In our little tour on the urban French culture, we were lucky enough to meet the mother of the Techtonik (la mère de la Techtonik), the best dancer, she is a 16 year old Maghribian girl, who was happy to have a foreign audience and show us her movements.

It was a brief insight of how this urban tribe behaves, how is managed leadership, how as teenagers try to fit in and define their identity; how the life in a society develops, how they identify each other, and construct a collective identity from plurality.

Encore une soirée où la jeunesse France
Encore elle va bien s'amuser dans cet état d'urgence
Alors elle va danser faire semblant d'exister
Qui sait si l'on ferme les yeux on vivra vieux

(Jeunes et Cons, a song by Damien Saez)

Thursday, January 29, 2009


Recently, I went back home for the holidays and I realize I was getting older when every cartoon, my youngest cousin watches, just seemed unintelligible for me, they were boring and uninteresting; exactly the reaction my mother used to have towards the cartoons I used to, and still love.

There was one about a school for animals where a kid was enrolled by mistake, because his name was Lion (that was what my cousin explained to me) actually what I could see was a crab pinching everything it could pinch; and I found my cousin laughing at that, I couldn’t find out why it was so funny.

He is 9 years old, I remember I used to see much more complex cartoons at the time, so I start chatting with my brother about the cartoons we used to watch and then we realized that most of them were anime, the anime created in the late 70’s early 80’s, some of it based on classical literature pieces like Remi and Heidi, or coming from the manga such as Astroboy, Mazinger Z, G force, Candy Candy, Saint Seya, Captain Tsubasa, Fly or from comics like He-Man, She-ra, Batman, X-Men, Spiderman or some from Rankin/Bass like Thundercats and Silverhawks.

At seven years old we were already dealing with different kinds of narratives and themes; big dramas, Remi sold by his stepfather, the blindness and death of Mr. Vitallis, the death of Antony, the renounced love for Terry, with stories that included obscure heroes and psycho-killer villains with complex personalities, the seven different universes of Spiderman or the messed temporality in X-Men.

I’ve recently watch Lady Oscar, and as a kid there are a lot of things to decode, first of all she is an androgynous hero, both women and men seems to be attracted to her, then there are complex plots developed like: the role of woman in the society, infidelity, rape, suicide, lose, violence, human rights; the very regard towards love is always unfortunate, unrequited, forbidden, long-suffering, and it never drives the characters to happiness but to sorrow; also de narrative, the images; static, dark or lighten, full of allegories, symbolism, metaphors.

For what I’ve seen the cartoons today are coming back to a simpler narrative, like the early Warner Brothers ones, Bugs Bunny making fun of Daffy Duck or Tom and Jerry, running around until the cat gets injured and make kids laugh. Even mythic comics like X-Men become simpler, making all of them a bunch of teenagers, with stereotypes of the urban sub-culture youth. It is like the new cartoons makers are following the philosophy under the Newspeak from 1984 George Orwell novel, making them simpler and avoiding any intellectual effort from the kids. Who is producing this content? Is it our generation that was tired of drama and complexity? They didn’t want to cause any unnecessary tears?

I know maybe some of the big trauma at least from my brother and I started with cartoons, but they also developed our decoding skills and made us get interest in media; not for nothing we ended up studying communication.