Earlier this year, I was invited by Rogério Nuno Costa to collaborate on his experimental performance project Missed-en-Abîme. Having mutual history in Aalto University and all that, I was happy to work with Rogério again. After some months of intense research and hard work, the results are about to be revealed. The premiere is set for 12 September, at Serralves Contemporary Art Museum in Porto, Portugal. My contribution is the sound art for the performance.
In 1917, Marcel Duchamp writes “1917” in an upside down urinal. In 1919, he draws a moustache in the most important portrait of the history of art; not the original one (he’s not Banksy), not even a reproduction (Pop was yet to be invented), but a portrait he painted himself, copying the “original”, and, by doing so, almost repeating Melville: I would prefer not to. In 1921, Man Ray photographs Duchamp as Rrose Sélavy, thus completing the circle, or else paving the way for the artist’s disappearance. A century later, we still don’t know how to deal, historically and artistically, with these radical endeavours, sometimes discrediting them (or assigning them new authorships…), sometimes assuming a somewhat insurmountable historical irresolution for them. ‘MISSED-EN-ABÎME’ aims to talk about a (centennial) gesture which can be interpreted as destruction, revelation, or simply self-imposed ostracism, as if it was impossible to do anything more after having obliterated (almost) everything. Duchamp spent decades doing nothing, the reason why Enrique Vila-Matas decided to dedicate some footnotes to him in his novel about the negative authors (‘Bartleby & Cia.’, 2000): « One time, in Paris, artist Naum Gabo asks Marcel Duchamp the reason for having stopped paiting. “Mais que voulez-vous?”, answers Duchamp, raising his arms in the air. “Je n’ai plus d’idées!” ». Inspired by this impasse, ‘MISSED-EN-ABÎME’ ritualizes a queer, sacrificial isolationism, thus daring to revisit Duchamp’s negligence while avoiding to find it a solution — « …parce qu’il n’y a pas de problème » —, rather accepting failure, withdrawal, invisibility and oblivion, perhaps also disappearance, as acts of survival and resistance.
Subtitled “Psychobiography of a Losing Hero (1917-1921)”, MISSED-EN-ABÎME consists in a three-part display (performance, book and film) meant to be installed/performed in the space of the contemporary art museum, thus concluding a durational research project (2017-2021) on Art, History and Solitude, conducted by by Rogério Nuno Costa in collaboration with artists and thinkers from Portugal and Finland: Luís Lázaro Matos, Kristian Palmu, Niko Skorpio, Colectivo FACA, Jani Nummela, Pie Kär, Miguel Refresco and Inês Carvalho e Lemos.
Due to current circumstances I won’t be able to attend the premiere, unfortunately. But I’m looking forward to witness the piece ‘in the flesh’ on another occasion (which will be announced later). Needless to say I feel proud for my participation in the project. It’s going to be an immersive experience with substancial conceptual depth!