Piazza's Artspace in Brussels
Paulo Alves, this month’s artist in InBetween, writes a diary in the context of LET’S FACE (IT), LEVINAS!
Day one at InBetween. It seems like it’s the first time I’m here. Maybe it’s because I feel have to do something with this space, I guess I am partly responsible for it now. I’ll have to take care of it, without on the other hand giving in to the temptation of taming it. The gallery seems overwhelmingly big all of the sudden. Borderline intimidating.
Am glad Tom Viaene asked me to write this first impression of my first day at InBetween. I am wondered at the fact that he had the initiative to voice a request that is so closely connected to my quest: remaining in the present, concentrate on the étant rather than on the être. Not taking anything for granted. Hence this virtual stream of consciousness. Stéphanie Verin passes by to record some of the moments of Day One. She talks about her own projects. The images triggered by her words occupy the space. They glow in the space. They remind that this experiment is not only about myself – it is multi-centred, and even those many centres are constantly moving and shapeshifting. Stéphanie seems to feel a compulsion to look outside the window at a regular pace as we talk, into Chausée d’Ixelles, where the dusk sets in and busy bodies rush and peak into the big open window of the gallery – just to dodge their sight as quickly as they had directed it to the inside of the space. We are working with the materials near the window, to allow for the peak. We sometimes nod at the passers-by, but we, too, are shy.
All interventions in this space will have to do with light, though some shall be more literal about it than others. Valuing the Other material, the Other’s perspective, the Other’s existence – that is the main idea underlying this experiment. Understanding that objects, people, spaces and materials carry their own light. One should not approach the other by shedding our light on them and assuming we can fully “read” them under the light we shed. It is unfeasible, and potentially dangerous, to assume that you can force your objectivity on the Others. You cannot objectify the Other. And while in Levinas this applies to the Other people, a visual artist might wonder if it does not apply also to space and the materials. You don’t rule the materials. Possibly….they rule you?…
Materials bend but they never break. They are never fully assimilated. And they never disappear. I am always wondered about the resistance of materials, about their unpredictable turns, their un-mappable reaction. Today it is also particularly evident how the aluminium sheets reflect what is around but also reflect themselves – like a game of mirrors it promotes a never-ending image of itself, but unlike mirrors the image is bent, unclear, un-mapable, largely unknown.
A neon-sign is placed against the wall, in a corner. It says “OPEN”. It is visible from the outside, but it is not placed at the window, or near the door. Against the wall, it tells us that the space opens up further, even beyond any possible perception we might have. I explain to Stéphanie that the big tall piece made of zinc foil and a tall box in raw wood will be lit in the inside to suggest its inner light. I add that I shall not hide the electric chords and sockets linking to the lamp: just like Levinas values the spoken word by using his written one, I am left to value (and to suggest) the inner light of things by using outer sources of lighting. Stéphanie adds “you don’t want to create an illusion, then”. I agree with this. She further asks me if I am using light to merge the pieces with space. I do not know what to tell her. I know, though, that I want to demonstrate a principle. With the slow pace that such a task recommends.