Book of the Month: ‘Poussière d’homme’ (Books #1)

I was not meant to read this book. I stole it from my sister’s shelf in her bathroom. You know, that place where you put magazines, a Sudoku book with a pencil but not an earser (dammit!), books you read the back cover hundreds of time but never actually start?

The title drew me in. I opened a random page, and poetry jumped at me. So I stole it, and started reading it on the RER on my way back to England. I had to stop.

This book could not be read on the train. This book had to be read in a place where I would be able to break down fearlessly.Capture d’écran 2016-05-16 à 18.33.43

So I landed, sat in my bed in a comfy shirt, with a cup of tea, and read it in one go. It is quite a short read, only a few hours, as the book is only about a hundred pages.

Now, if you know me, you know I hate France. I refuse to read in French unless it was originally written in French, I refuse to watch translated movies because, well, I have a weird aversion for anything French.

But.

This book may have been my way back.

The poetry in the sentences, the way the story begins with the end and draws us back to the beggining, the fact that it was a biography of sorts and not an invention made it so much more powerful for me.

This book packs a punch and will leave you crying on the floor and depressed for a few days. Which is why you shoud read it. Because it makes you FEEL so much. I love feeling things through words, because those words were felt, written, and the feelings somehow travel in the book and punches you in the face when you open the book.

What is the story? Well, you know you’re in for a ride when you realise that page 1 tells you that the main character has lost his precious person. And then proceeds to take you through their first encounter, all the way to his lover’s last breath.

Now, I am not partial cancer stories, as they are often overdone and do not feel ‘real’ but ‘made’ for the reader.

The fact that David Lelait is the main character, and that everything he says are words he wrote while the story was happening to him made it special. And the poetry, ah, the poetry.

I cannot stay away from a well-written work of art.

And neither should you.

 

Transgenic Art

Transgenic art is a new form of art that is being used more and more as artists start to experiment with life.

Our generation is unlike anything the world has ever experienced; we are more connected than ever and technology has made its place in so many aspects of our lives we wouldn’t know how to live without it. As we know, artists tend to make statements about the world we live in, and what could be better than to comment on all the transgenic modifications our world is being submitted to? We have GMOs, experimenting with clones, and it doesn’t seem to stop pushing forward, streching the line of the ethical. Artists, by using the medium of bio art, can recieve loud responses from the work they create, such as GFP Bunny, a fluorescent bunny created by Eduardo Kac. The critics were mixed, and a lot of people were shocked that humans had used an animal for art purposes.

Of course, not all bio art is concerned with animals, as we can see with Edunia, a genetically modified flower that contains both the flower and Kac’s DNA. But Kac takes responsibility for what he creates. Alba still lives with him, and so will the other creations he will make, such as the project of GFP-K-9, a fluorescent dog. Ethically, it appears fair : If you must create a new art form, you must care for it afterwards.
Transgenic art deals with artificially controlled beings, whether animal or mineral, which’s genetic sentence is transformed by humans. As Eduardo Kac mentions, there must be a connection between ” the artist, the public and the transgenic organism”. Peope must be willing to understand what is being played with in bio art. It is not entertainement, it is pushing the limit of the possible.

It is art beyond what we can see, that still impacts the final “product”. For instance, Alba, the rabbit who’s genetic sentence was modified, that resulted in her glowing in the dark.This shows how everything we touch can be modified to our needs, or our pleasure. I do not agree with any of those methods, but I understand the reasons behind the art. It is a statement that is loud and clear, we are in control of everything. We are at the top of the food chain and can play God. Because it is essentially what is being done in laboratories every day. People play God and artists showcase the creations they make in a performance to allow the audience to comment and react in many different ways to the creation.

It can both offend and/or notify people of what happens behind closed doors, as no one is truly aware of the exact manipulations that take place… in a place where there are no rules or ethics. Artists therefore create something that scientists and slaughterhouses don’t : anger. People will start to comment on the fact that they shouldn’t have the right to do such things, to play with animals that way, to strip them of their rights…

Jennifer Hood mentions in The Ethics of Transgenic Art that “the line between art and science is blurred.” I have to agree. If artists can play with genetics, then where does it stop? Can we all create our own fluorescent beings in our gardens? Why would anyone stop us? We are all manipulating animal life in one way or another, if it is for livestock, where we breed and breed and breed the unwilling animals to have meat, if it is for progress, where we create monsters to see if we can, if it is for medicine, so we don’t have to test it on ourselves first, if it is for clothes, even though we have no need for leather or fur anymore, if it is for entertainemeny, I mean, who doesn’t like a good horseback ride, or elephant ride, or ostrich ride, or donkey ride, if it is for eggs, because we cannot restrain ourselves from that good old butter and sunny side up eggs… The list is never ending, and it doesn’t seem to bother most of the public. We might wonder why. I think the best way to explain it would be to take the example of a mermaid. If we found one in the ocean, an educated guess would be that humans would take it and try to interrogate it. But as it is a non-human species, we wouldn’t understand it. We would therefore feel enclined to disregard who they are as individuals for entertainement purposes (put it in big aquarium, perhaps?) or “educational” purposes (Look at that, it is a mermaid… it used to be free and now it’s not… It used to live in the ocean, used to travel miles and miles a day, and now you can look at it… as it slowly lets itself dies from depression) and even maybe under means of conservation (We must protect the mermaid!… as we exterminate the Amazon, home for so many species that everyday, more than 2 are eliminated and more than 20 get into the eternally growing list of endangered species… But we must eat meat, we must continue to destroy the planet! Onwards! Save the mermaid! As we fish sharks, dolphins and whales when trying to get tuna, due to the massive fishnets that gives no respect to any living beings in the ocean… except this one mermaid).

The catch is… mermaids aren’t real… but all the other non-human species we use in everyday life are.

On French Film Culture

Foreign films have a tendency to pass under the radar in english-speaking countries. Why? Because we already have the original versions of the Hollywood blockbusters. Why would we need anything else than what Hollywood gives us?

Well, as a French student, I will let you know what I have observed. People cannot be bothered with subtitles. It appears sitting in a room with images and text going on at the same time is difficult. Your point is invalid. If you are watching Games of Thrones, The Hundred, etc, then you can do both. Granted, it is an effort. But you are passing by some really amazing stories that have nothing to do with saving the world, or BDSM. Foreign movies often have less budget to create some epic scenes, which means they actually have to find content to entertain us with. Many movies that have never made it past the English Channel (aka La Manche) can be recommended. Just this Christmas, La Famille Bélier hit the screens with a touching story about a teenage girl discovering she has a gift for singing… problem is, her entire family is deaf, owns a farm in the middle of nowhere and cannot comprehend her newfound passion. A few months ago, Qu’est-ce qu’on a fait au bon Dieu? made the entire audience burst into laughter, not unlike Avis de Mistral or Eyjafjallajökull, with Dany Boon (our famous comedian you all saw in Bienvenu chez les Ch’tis?).

Foreign films have a lot to give, and though we do not always share the same humor, there are plenty of choices to please everyone.

Another observation I made concerns the openness of a country to foreign movies. In France, we get about half of our movies from Hollywood. The other half consists of both french and foreign movies from all over the world. Since coming to Exeter, a year and a half ago, I have barely seen any posters for foreign movies. It’s just not in your culture it seems. The question is, did the theaters used to offer diversity and had to stop because the screens were always empty, or did it just never happen?

You would think all movies that do not come from Hollywood can be swiped under the rug because they don’t matter, but it isn’t true. Foreign movies have as much to offer as Hollywood, if not more, because they truly have to fight to get screen time. Money being an issue, only the best of them get out (I will admit, some are not worth it. But you should make up your own mind). And, when they do get out, and the box office explodes with Euros, then sometimes America and the United Kingdom will screen it (Amélie Poulain for instance). But you are missing so many other fantastic movies that should be in your repertoire. Internet is your oyster, and you can find all those movies online. I highly recommed all the titles I mentionned, but I also encourage you to look up more titles from all over the place (Wadja from Saudia Arabia is poignant) to discover that all countries have some great films to show the world. They just don’t have the means to.

So for this World Cinema Week, jump on the occasion and visit the cinema. Chances are, you won’t regret it.

Wiped LipStain, Live Arts

 

 

 

I have started to create a series of pictures that were inspired by my Live Art Module at the University of Exeter. Those are completely amateur and have no value whatsoever. I am just playing with the ideas mentionned in lectures.

This one is called Wiped LipStain.

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The idea behind this series has to do with perfection, destruction and what makes people beautiful in our society. Smudging a symbol of beauty, of sex-appeal is powerful to me because many things seem to have to be perfect to be beautiful. Round fruits, red tomatoes, six pack abs, long curly hair etc. Having a lipstick stain across your face can be interpreted like a rebellion, like a mistake, or even like a painful fist. They are taken at different angles and with different expression, once again giving the possibility of being caught by surprise, taking the shot consciously, etc.