I started with “memory #17”, without knowing why I chose this number. It consisted in a small bag filled with small useless objects that were scattered in my place and on which I wrote this title. It was in November 1997.
“Memory #16” came soon after, I wanted to stretch a pullover by nailing it on my wall, but I gave up that project. The tag that was left hanging was “memory #16”. Then came number 15.
Without thinking about it, I began this memory lane, backwards. I really wanted to reach number one. It would take time and it was a good thing since I had all the time in the world. The “memories” projects came one after the other, taking more and more time to produce as they went by, and more time between each project. The book Le tout de mon temps (All My Precious Time) and my website are e memory #1”, the goal I had to reach to start off again. Like the big-crunch that came after the big-bang. The hypothesis being that movement starts again into a big-bang (explosion-implosion-explosion).
Here are six examples of memories, in the chronological order of reminiscence.
During three months, I worked as a security agent at the Petit Palais museum long before it was restored and before its underground extension. Our bosses wore suits. The atmosphere was quite strict. We were not allowed to talk to each other while we were working. The temporary exhibition rooms were always plunged into the dark. Sitting on my chair, I often dozed off, I then fought to keep my eyes open and when I wasn’t able to do so I stood up.
One day, I found a pen spring on the floor, it was long and thin. I unfolded it, stretched it until it reached a good wavy length, and I tangled it to create a ring. I named it : “the security agent waking up ring”. Put around my finger, it allowed me, each time I was about to sleep, to stay awake through the sharp sensation I got while rubbing it on the palms of my hands.
I then had the idea to create a piece of art with it. I wanted the ring to be put on a small fluffy cushion and inside a box made of glass, on a wood base. Engraved on the bronze plate nailed to the base, would be the title: “ Security agent-awakening-ring, 1999” ( in the manner of the 18th century paintings I had under my eyes).
Unfortunately I lost the ring.
The drawing of the ring under its glass box and its story are “memory #14”.
Memory #11 - The scream
When my aunt Maria died, my mother got many slides. Among them I found these images that were taken at her place on a snowy day. We had a picture of the same series in one of our photo albums, but not the one with the scream. What a scream! Why was I screaming like that? Because of the finger on the objective? No...And I am scaring my mother whose tongue hangs sideways and aunt Maria is stepping back. Is it my scream that scared them or what they are seeing too? No one in my family can answer that question when they look at this picture today.
Memory #10 consists in two quotes. They were selected with a progressive quote reduction method. There were seven reference books: Clément Rosset's Le réel et son double, Remy Lestienne's Le hasard créateur, Sartre's Being and Nothingness, Sabine Melchior-Bonnet's Histoire du miroir, Joseph Beuys published by the Georges Pompidou Center, Thomas Mann's The Buddenbrooks and Camus' Myth of Sisyphus. For each of them I had copied many excerpts that I liked. After a year, after six contractions, only these two quotes were left. They made sense together, I couldn’t contract them more.
A few days after I started this work, I discovered this excerpt in Artistes sans œuvres by Jean-Yves Jouannais: “ his project [J. Joubert's] consisted in a an even larger building than cathedral, but more discrete than a countryside chapel: “ tormented by the ambition to put a whole book into a page, a whole page into a sentence and this sentence in a word. It’s me.”
I then lived in Mûriers Street in the 20th arrondissement. I bought a second-hand backpedalling bicycle that was in a bad shape, without any working handbrakes. I had two accidents with it, hopefully they were not serious ones. I didn’t use it a lot and I always attached it to the same handrail along the small garden in front of my building. One night it disappeared. “ Memory #9” is the double-sided sign that I put on the same handrail in the morning. (I think it remained there for a week before disappearing too).
On the second side one could read:
Here went missing, during the night of the 12th to the 13th January, a robust-looking “Dutch” black, bike, however...weakened by rust, the brakes are bad and the mudguard is unsteady.
A reward will be given to the person who will tell its new owner about the risks he takes using this bike.
Also called “1001 memories”, this “memory #3” is the one that took me the longest time: I started it in 2003 and finished it in 2017. I worked on it intermittently, 3 times during 5 months and a little longer at the end.
First, I intended to make a list of my childhood memories. I thought it would be endless. But actually gathered these 1001 memories with difficulty.
Each of them is described in a few words organized in 4 columns an Excel document. For instance: Rennes/ with sisters / old woman dressed black hair white/ we push door prevent old lady come in. I don't think that anyone will be able to read all of them, despite the interest a
fill-in-the-blanks may represent. They are more like a board game that allows me, with numbers randomly picked, to tell a few memories to my children, my friends or whoever may be interested.
I had collected quite a great amount of memories and that's how I started to study memories. I wanted to know about its nature, its shape, it's content. I studied, compared. I was excited by the answers I got. I continued until I reached my limits as a novice researcher.
On this side you will find two excerpts from “1001 memories”.
The plastic fried egg is a toy from my childhood I was fascinated by. It could be on the cover of my “1001 memories” book, if I decided to separate it from “Le Tout de mon temps” (“All my precious time”).
Memory #3, and the following one, will be in full in “Trois morceaux de mon temps” (“Three parts of my time”).
“The old people” or “memory #2” is a sound recording put on paper. It's a new form of writing, the text is a written transcript, word for word and comma for comma, of the dialogues taken from the conversations I recorded (without them knowing) with old people I met in the city public squares.
The idea came up with the project Among Others I did with Emily Mast. The idea was to find 4 truths from the mouths of old people. Actually, I got even more than 4 truths. These people were supposed to have their life behind them; however, they seemed more alive than I was. I then wanted to continue these encounters, carefully transcribing what we said, even our sighs.
10 conversations are transcribed. They are the encounters I started in 2004 with the “4 truths” and that went on until 2013.
Here is a short excerpt.