I. Summer (after the Great Game)
I. Summer (after the Great Game)
Absalon, Nina Canell, Jean Dupuy, Jean-Luc Moulène, Juan Antonio Olivares, and Ernest Trova
curated by Andrea Neustein
JULY 12 — AUGUST 12, 2017
88 ELDRIDGE STREET
On a pedestal, next to two closed journals, an opened original edition of the first issue of Le Grand Jeu, published in the summer of 1928. It is 64 pages long, paperbacked in brick red. The paper is tea-brown and smells of moisture, its edges brittle. In this first issue, the members of the group delineate the terms of pataphysics – the science of imaginary solutions. It is opened to page 26, a drawing by Josef Sima, and page 27, an erotic poem that begins, in French, “The eye of reason / Capsizes and waltzes / And the sign between the legs of women / Opens”.
The Grand Jeu group published three issues of the journal between 1928 and 1932; texts and drawings for IV. Automne, 1932, were compiled, but never released.
The Grand Jeu group posed unanswerable questions and explored slippery ideas around which one can dance or ignite fires; coincidence, chance, necromancy; absurdity as an existential adhesive.
In Through The Looking Glass, Alice tries to walk directly from a house to a hill, only to find that she has re walked back to the house; only once, on the advice of a rose bud, she walks in the opposite direction of the hill does she finally reach it.
The mind adopts the habit of saying, “This is not important” to everything the body does or experiences.
René Daumal, “Freedom Without Hope”; Le Grand Jeu 1¹
…all defined existence is a scandal…the individual who has known himself within the whole can well believe for a moment that he will scatter into a dust so homogenous that it will spread like a dust filling an absence of dust in no place, at no time: he explodes, that lucky Earthling, but his all too solid skin, that elastic sack holds him together and puckers only at the most flexible parts of his face, makes the corners of his mouth rise and his eyelids tighten, and distended as far as it can be, it all suddenly contracts and snaps back on itself as the lungs fill up with air and then empty out; thus is born the rhythm of laughter, realized and sensed in oneself, observed just as clearly as in the eyes of another laughter. Each time he thinks he is going to burst once and for all, the laughter is held back by his skin, I mean his form, by the bounds of his own particular law whose form is outer expression, by the absurd formula, the irrational equation of his existence which he has not yet solved. He constantly bounces back off that absolute star that pulls at him, never standing still, and heating up from all the repeated impacts, he turns maroon, then cherry-red, then white, and shoots off boiling corpuscles and bursts again even more violently, and his laughter becomes the mad rage of wild planets…
René Daumal, “Pataphysics and the Revelation of Laughter”²
I took as my starting point the writings, drawings, poems, and thought experiments published by René Daumal, Roger Gilbert-Lecomte, Roger Vailland, Robert Meyrat, and their peers in Le Grand Jeu revue, three issues of which were published between 1927 and 1932. I started with their first summer issue, and went ahead from there. The group approached problems through the lense of pataphysics — the science of imaginary solutions – and imagined or insisted upon a world in which everything, including our own existence and form, is in constant shift. Coincidence, arbitrariness, necromancy, absurdity as an existential adhesive, stand alongside empirical science and linear thought. In Through The Looking Glass, Alice tries to walk away from a house towards a hill, to find that she has somehow walked back to the house; finally, on the advice of a talking rose bud, she walks in the opposite direction of the hill and finally reaches it.
 Theory of the Great Game: Writings from Le Grand Jeu, edited and translated by Dennis Duncan (London: Atlas Press, 2015), pp. 19-25
 Pataphysical Essays, translated by Thomas Vosteen (Cambridge, MA: Wakefield Press, 2012), pp. 2-14
A stanza comprised of acrylic painted descriptive words, followed by an anagram of the letters in that paragraph transformed into a narrative passage.
Pale pink, Iranian pistachio tree resin cast into minimal cuboids of varying heights appear to stand erect; they stand on bases built from aluminum hardware, from which a pole is driven upwards into the shaft of each resin column. As time passes, the resin reacts to the environment and articulates gravity and time by drooping, collapsing, melting down. The gum’s texture retards the pace of this collapse, making it imperceptible; at a glance, they appear static. The works age faster than we do but slower than we can see.
The lycanthropic body is never static, always in transit.
An acrylic painting on primed linen canvas. Concentric archways, navy blue or black, provide a backdrop for two rows of silhouetted figures in profile, lined up one after the other, aligned with the contours of the arches. Do they march in opposite directions?
In Trova’s work, body is grammar.
Multiple balloons are inflated through holes in a 5-liter plastic bottle. Cluster of balloons and bottle are coated in epoxy and asphaltum. The work’s title, Grappe, means “cluster”.
Tabula rasa: everything is true.
Photography: Courtesy Miguel Abreu Gallery