Eric Duyckaerts

Self Determination / Body Politics - A reaction Eric Duyckaerts Previous Index

The pronoun "we" can often be taken as a putsch or a coup. For instance, if I begin a sentence: "We, artists, think that...", I'm sure to include in that "we" people who don't want to subscribe to my further statement, and artists who consider that I'm not an artist! For this reason, I prefer to limit my reaction to the "I", leaving the "we" to collective action, to my behaviour as citizen involved in "we-movements". It must be understood that the "I" who speaks here and now is a set which has an intersection with the set of the "I" citizen: this intersection is not empty, but both sets do not coincide.

"Self, Selbst, Zelf" are words adressing the sameness, the identity. Historically, self-determination was a "we-concept", popularized by De Gaulle as "auto-détermination" at the beginning of decolonization movements. The fact is that french language uses a greek word ("auto") to speak about identity. I don't know the indo-europeen roots of "self".

Now about "I" and "Self". Arthur Rimbaud in a letter written in 1871 says: "I is an other", and also: "It is false to say I think. One should say: one thinks me". Friedrich Nietzsche said the same, at about the same time. Since that time, the I and the Self have been submitted to a constant criticism. The I and the Self have been denounced as representants of the ideology that reinforces the illusion of the mastership of the subject (the one who says "I") onto his/her destiny. For instance in the lacanian scholastics, the subject S is always written $. The subject, the I, the self, are not compact entities; on the contrary, they are split, they are made out off a fabric full of discontinuities.

The text of the Gemeentemuseum Arnhem mixes up the "we" self and the "I" self. Many battle fields are evoked in that text. As I decided to limit my reaction to the "I" self, it's important to say which is my battle field. It is culture: a place where signs and meanings are the weapons. I hope that my readers agree with me that a fight is possible if and only if the fighters are on the same field. Inside the boundaries of the cultural field, I try to show (here in Arnhem) that verticality can be understood in many ways, by ironizing about the phallic status it took in art and culture. Body politics.

Every child knows that a flat object designed upon the ground can be perceived as a vertical way up to heaven. That's why I exhibit hopscotches.

The Sheffer's stroke is also an object wich works against obvious perception of dominant thinking: it denies self-identity. And that's why my hopscotches are logical ones.

Paris, 15 january 1995 Eric Duyckaerts

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