"When I began going over the records of Galerie 1900-2000, a Victorien Sardou etching caught my eye, Quartier des Animaux chez Zoroastre de Bernard Palissy [Zoroaster’s Animal Quarters by Bernard Palissy]. I once had the chance to delve into Palissy’s work as a ceramist because near the Jeu de Paume stands a grotto which Catherine de Medici had commissioned him to do. In the course of working on my exhibition proposal at the Jeu de Paume (Paris) in 2012, I had tried to discover what ghosts might be haunting the place and to integrate them in m y work. By referring to Palissy, I was able to borrow from the Manufacture de Sèvres [the national factory of Sèvres porcelain] a 1560 piece called Fragment d’un serpent enroulé [Fragment of a Coiled Serpent], which had originally been part of the fantastical grotto.
The title of Sardou’s drawing immediately put me into mind that search for ghosts, especially since it was a spiritualist drawing. I have often sought to bring out an invisible life in the overwrought settings I’ve been able to lm, and this relationship to the spiritualist drawing seemed to me to be a starting point, even a method for exploring the gallery’s reserves. Indeed, many pieces have taken shape through similar processes, notably surrealist works.
I took my time over all the signs, the objects associated with famous characters like Duchamp, Picabia, Bellmer and Éluard, the works of art on the fringe and the things surrounding them, in a word everything that might constitute a magic, ghostly constellation around these artists. I chose works of art having something to do with radio, the night, Éluard’s death mask hit by a German bullet in André Breton’s studio, a photograph by Kertész, an autochrome by Dechavannes, a gouache by Bellmer on black paper, Une lune dans l’autre by Tanning, a transfer print by Breton, and so on. “I think that lm, when one isn’t being bored, is the art of letting ghosts return,” as Derrida put it. I imagined an exhibition made up of artworks that built an alternate dream world around concepts like night, ghosts, and faces that you recognize, a dream world that has been worked out in a highly intuitive way in an extension of the project I did at the Bass Museum of Art (Miami Beach)—in which the gaze
of old paintings I had selected gave the impression that they were observing my own artworks—and of “Memories of the Future,” an exhibition where I had invited eighteen artists to tackle the question of the manipulation of time.
Faces will hover about there like phantoms, such as the face we see in the rst portrait done of Duchamp the artist by Ho mann, dating from 1912. There will also be early works of art that are like the ghosts of future pieces, a 1909 landscape by Picabia, for example, which gives not the slightest hint of his work to come. I thought it would be interesting to play o the presence of these artists and not only that of their works. Just as the Surrealists conjured up spirits or set up certain devices that were meant to elicit ghostly voices (death masks, exquisite corpses, hypnosis), I would like to reactivate these objects, explore their magnetism and their power to evoke a story, like witnesses to both the period and this research. The coexistence of these pieces will form a unique sequence, like a long night-time tracking shot, strung together."