Justine (2016) was exhibited at galerie antoine ertaskiran, January 13 - February 13, 2016

“Destruction seems to be what we do best here, so I thought, why not bring this condition on to myself, and destroy not necessarily my body, but rather, my self. And really the body is a requirement to keep the experiment going as long as possible, so it’s best if you can leave that part out of the experiment. Sometimes that’s not possible. And so I tried to make myself into a human piece of nothing, a mere object, as a way to better identify with things. I did this to better understand the breaking apart of one material form into a new form, and possible future forms as yet unimagined, to really get a sense of what that felt like, of all the possibilities! Of course to do this I selected the very weakest among you to do this work for me with your ignorance and self-neglect and really when it gets right down to it, some low level violence, to transform me into nothing, but nevertheless a kind of nothing beyond your capacity to understand. In this I was able to maintain complete control over this self-destruction and it felt good to live at the precipice of being and non-being for a while, to really be here, but then really to be somewhere else, too, an indescribable nowhere. Abandoning myself to your disorder, you were deluded into thinking it was for you, about you. It was never about you. It was always about things, getting into being things, the world itself, it’s probably beyond you, I am sorry to say. And this, I am sorry to tell you, is how you commit yourself to darkness.” – Miscellaneous victim

Really there is no such person as Justine, or Juliette, for that matter. These characters are just, sadly, lady-dummies for the ventriloquist the Marquis de Sade to express his problems through. Blanchot had it right when he claimed the lasting contribution of Sade, apart from actual sadism, as being that of an embodied self-experiment, using his own self destruction as the means to convey the work (with many actual victims wrought through this “process,” also). Nature itself is the very spirit of negation, destruction is the dominant mode of its expression, but within that unfathomable destruction there is also an overwhelming joy in the creation that invariably follows. This annoyed Sade. And it’s a fine line between destruction and creation anyway, and maybe they aren’t actually that different from one another. Holding these forces in tension is what the works gathered for Justine attempt to do, alone and in concert. A certain approach to material suggests a level of ambivalence for the thing while maintaining a deep respect for the freedom of the material as it stands apart from the artist. Technique really is a kind of violence on the thing that it hasn’t asked for anyway. Being at the mercy of nothing or at the mercy of everything is a matter of perception. This work probably doesn’t want to exist, its very form is resistance. This refusal to become, to eschew any possible boundary altogether, results in certain aesthetic barbarities and malformations. Here is openness to what is possible, not what already exists. The work often breaks down in the process of its making, connecting back onto the self attempting to make it; something must be broken to be made. Except instead of a desire for complete and utter ruin there is joy in this destruction also, its constant refrain is fuck death.

 

Back