"Lick me here.
That's where it hurts."
I thought I keep hearing someone whispering that phrase quietly under their breath as I traipsed about this extensive exhibition of insane, naive, pathetic, and obsessive art culled from the great collection of l'Art Brut in Lausanne, Switzerland and five lesser known collections of naif art from the four corners of France: La Fabuloserie (Dicy, Yonne), L'Aracine - Musee d'Art Brut (Neuilly-sur-Marne), Le Petit Musee du Bizarre (Lavilledieu, Ardeche), Le site de la Creation Franche (Begles), and La Collection Ceres Franco (Lagrasse, Aude). I had not prepared myself for what I saw.
Let me try to explain. I never was taken in by the neo-expressionist shtick of the 80's, because I had been to Lausanne in my youth and had seen what the real thing looked like. I had known insane people. I was friends with insane people. And let me tell you something, these 80s folks were no insane people. What they were, were expanded stylistic plagiarists, which is an acceptable, even crucial strategy for cultural production in the information age. But they never acknowledged their debt to the originators, perhaps the weakest & most marginalized people on the planet, the foolish ones. It is they, the most marginalized and the most infirm, who are always exploited and robbed by the rigid complacency of the Capitalist over-class with its schizophrenic values of cultural democratic inclusion and its actual hurtful economic monetary system which is based on the principle of exclusion; and it makes me sick. I literally heard voices.
What one can see in this exhibition is authentic creation; imagination which has sprung from the inner private subjective torment of an individual, sans historical legitimation. These people's visual expressions resulted in an 'art' created as if from ex nihlo, the mythical conduit to transcendental realms that art, given its prelinguistic potential of unchaining the common codes, can sometimes reach. I sensed much of it came from sadness, loneliness and frustration as well.
The works were arranged in correspondence to the Musee from which they arrived. There is no stylistic or thematic grouping. They simply are all nuts. Also there are no dates of creation attached to the works, as many dates were unknown due to their obscurity and the unprofessionalism of their creators which is a very liberating/frustrating experience for the art historically trained viewer. Only the dates of the full life of the 'artists' are given when known, but they tell one almost nothing; which serves as yet another nonlinear blow to the Enlightenment essentialism so much part of contemporary art appreciation - an appreciation which is rapidly being transformed by the emerging techno-culture.
The pieces which I most greatly admired were by the best known of the batch, Adolf Wolfli, but also by unknowns (to me) : Therese Bonnelalbay, Augustin Lesage, Fleury Joseph Crepina and Raphael Lonne - whose obsessive recombinant drawings of faces hiding and emerging out of the webbed busy bushes will look familiar to anyone who has experimented with LSD in the out of doors. One sees seven great pieces of unbroken image circulation from Wolfli which makes the trip to the Musee rewarding enough alone. He solely had the power to encourage me to overcome the tyranny of paradigms in which I had placed Art Brut and to recontextualize it in context of the advent of the electronic explosion in which knowledge has shifted away from certitude and transformed itself into information.
The overall production quality that these 'artists' all share is that of obsessive stockpiling. They are obsessionists with labor-intensive linked detailed miniaturization distributed with an almost panicked equal-compositional informational intensity over the entire picture plane. A vision of how online information flows in an unbroken current through the electronic network suggested a common interpretation of their spectacular imagery which I apply to them all, if you will allow me to render the greatest possibility for interpretation of their work in the online context. They all parallel the technology of the internet. Some use asymmetrical composition, or cultural fragmentation, while others apply mirrored symmetry to the distribution of minuet detail in their compositions. The loss, the submersion, the escape of the aggregate ego seems to me to be the common goal of this obsessive detailing; both in their creation and in the viewing eye/mind dilation which marks their contemplation experience. And in this respect they are hypermedia spiritually orgasmic drug artists of the first degree.
I thing you'll be happy to visit my page Nicola Maguolo mail: email@example.com homepage http://venus.unive.it/~maguolo/ artbrut http://venus.unive.it/~maguolo/carlo.htm (italian version) artbrut http://venus.unive.it/~maguolo/carloen.htm (english version)
I want to send you the program of event called DispArt. Un event about art-brut. If you are interest send me a mail Ciao SAndro