Tuesday started with an early morning, long awaited, rendezvous with the good Sister Juliana van Thulden. I'll get into that experience in a future post.
My next appointment for the day was lunch with Jérôme Hentsch. We met in the Place des Eaux Vives. He then walked me over to his favorite restaurant in Geneva; small sushi place nearby which features the work of the best sushi chef in town, a man who has spent many years in Geneva, but has managed to not grasp much of a hold on neither French nor English. Over the course of this lunch I ate lots of sushi....copious amounts of sushi. Perhaps more sushi in this one sitting that the combined consumption of nearly all the sushi eating sessions in my life, and probably the most sating encounter I've had with the cuisine to this point.
More than adequately filled with lunch, we proceeded to Jérôme's studio which rests adjacent to the Plaine de Plainpalais. This is the first time I was able to glimpse a bit of his work - and it was just a glimpse as much of what was there was well packed, having just returned from an exhibit. While in the studio I recorded a conversation about his work, with the screeching wheels of the trams audible through the windows. I wish I had recorded our conversation in the restaurant as well as that was also packed full of interesting morsels.
Among the things we talked about were his belief in the sacredness of the studio and his utter abhorrence of the "open studio" event, and his interest in Lewis Carroll as a figure important to contemporary art.
Some time back I started a list enumerating those occurrences of serendipity or synchronicity that that give me a start, and make me stop. Perhaps it's a word or image, or person I'm exposed to, seemingly for the first time, or at least for the first time that I notice. Then in short order, hours or just a few days later, I encounter that same word, image, or person again...and perhaps repeatedly.
In discussing a body of his most recent work; large "human scale" minimal geometric paintings evoking a door or window, Jérôme showed me in image in a book which is the conceptual center of this body of work. The image, which can be seen below is one of the extremely few photographic images to come out of Auschwitz prior to it's liberation by the Allies. It's a famous photo, taken surreptisiously through a window, of a scene in which the bodies of prisoners are being burned.
It's a famous photo, but I had never seen it. I wasn't familiar with it. Two weeks later, back at home, I was watching the film Gerhard Richter Painting. This same photo is pinned to the wall of Richter's office. In talking about the photo he remarks on how "normal" the scene looks, as if these people were gathered for some really banal purpose. He points out the figure in the center of the image with his arms to balance himself, as if he was walking along a log and not amidst a mound of corpses.
|A screen capture still from Gerhard Richter Painting.|
|Brass key chain depicting the original, austere grave marker of Jean Calvin, produced, along newsprint publication, by Jérôme for the Post Tenebras Luxe exhibit at the Musee Rath in 2009.|
From Jérôme's studio, I ventured to meet Mathias at the studio of Madgalena Cenolli where we partook in some Escalade Marzipan marmite, vodka and I learned a bit about Magdalena's work.
|Magdalena's plastic holga outfitted with a Fuji back which produces mini Polaroid-like pics|
Issues of the mirror and reflection had been bouncing around in the fore of my thoughts for a few days and the topic arose in my conversation with Jerome and it was reinforced in speaking with Magdalena as her work at times utilizes the mirror. Many of her photographic images suggests the sense of a mirrored reflection even when they are not reflected images. But Magdalena is more involved and interested in the relationship and division between the body (both literal and metaphorical) and the image - a different flavor of the object/reflection palate.
Her works have both photographic and sculptural elements. The cult of Poloroid plays strongly in her work as she employs a range of techniques that embody the type of distortions one would expect when those floppy wafers would get fucked up. In one branch of her work, Magdalena is printing images on clay and creating an extremely realistic ceramic sculpture of that familiar Poloroid wafer, giving the body back to the image in these super delicate objects.
Two views of one of Magdalena's ceramic "polaroids". From her online portfolio.
After our visit we went out for fondue in the little seasonal huts I filmed on my first night in town. Fondue is one of those cuisines that while so entirely appealing and novel in it's cultural cache, for me walks a fine line between delectable and disgusting. I like it, but there is something in what I sense as a sour sweetness that brings to mind other people's mucous. This sensory image is more strongly evoked the more I eat fondue. We ate a lot of fondue that night. I was encouraged to take the burnt remainder of the cheese in our pot home and have it for breakfast the next morning. That was the last thing I wanted to think about at that moment.
|The fondue huts.|
I'll just interject here another wintertime treat that sounds and seems much greater than it is, for my taste, anyway: any variety of Gluwien, vin chaud, mulled wine etc. The concept of this warmth giving nector seems as appealing as a mid Winter's hot tub soak. In practice, however, the odor of these concoctions is shrill and acidic....and reminds me of other people's urine. I at once salivate and want to hurl when I smell it. Also, upon smelling it, my face embarks on the start of a sour grimace which can finds its true completion only in the tasting of the stuff. The many food and beverage stalls set up throughout the old city of Geneva for the Escalade observance reeked of the stuff. The image of all the folks partaking at the Christmas Market in Bern, with their little ceramic mugs was so appealing and inviting, except for my knowledge of what swilled inside those little blue mugs. For me, nothing beats a straight hot cider.
It was a dynamic and an indulgent gustatorial day, Two major gorgings intermingled throughout with beers, multiple shots of vodka and multiple glasses of wine gave rise to an envisioned image of a cheesy mound of fish and bread working it's way through my system...an image I actually would have liked to see.
Contrary to my expectations, I was feeling fairly fine the next morning. The food and misc. alcohol must have balanced each other out to subvert any possible hangover effects from taking hold.
Recurring often in the trip through the many mentions of fondue was the emergence of a fond memory of a fondue set we had when I was a child. I don't remember ever seeing it in use, but I remember vividly that the wooden handle of each fondue fork was capped with a different boldly hued plastic hemisphere.. I know it was the color that was intriguing to me, but it must also have been the shape and interaction of the wood and plastic that made these things so magical; jewel-like, even.
|A peek inside the windshield of a sketchy bus that seemed permanently parked below the art museum.|
The first part of Wednesday was given to more work in the apartment, - and trying to secure a last minute ticket for my mom to see the Andy Williams Christmas show, complete with a memorial tribute to Andy Williams at the singer's Moon River Theater in Branson, MO. Then it was a quick trip to the art museum, then another trip to chez Dussoix to record another conversation - this time with Xavier - about how his pursuits in film, studying that medium in Paris, evolved into creating light and projection based installations and then pure plastic sculpture.
|Xavier explaining to me the points of one of his sculptural projection "screens"|
I don't think it's a stretch to view this progression in the sculptures and installations he's creating now.
|An example of Hadrien's notetaking/mental mapping taped to the wall of his apartment.|
Thursday was much the same as Wednesday, another visit to chez Dussoix to record a chat with Hadrien which touched on his experience of being a sort of a gestural pop aesthetic outlier in the predominantly hard edged geometric/ conceptual painting milieu of Geneva.
|"You May Find Yourself In A Beautiful House" was Hadrien's contribution to the Post Tenebras Luxe exhibit at the Musee Rath in 2009.|
On my way back home from my meeting with Hadrien, I stopped by the train station to pick up my train ticket to Paris for my journey there the following day.