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the freedom of the artist

read on thursday march 29, 2012 at 7pm by anne-lise coste at toomer labzda gallery


at the museum, with the school-class, somewhere in france, the south, beginning of teenager time, hung on the wall, in a frame, a piece of paper , kind of old and not precious, a blue paint stain, some writing,  ink calligraphy (art to trace letters), hand of the artist, presence per excellence. it is written on it, at the top  “photo” and  nearby the blue,  “ceci est la couleur de mes rêves”.

its from miro, couldnt find when he did it.


its a kind of kitchy sentence i know ( we can discuss why later)


but the big surprise was: oh my god a piece of paper, a stain, some writing  and it can be an art piece ! 

thats great!


it literally straightly showed me the freedom, the freedom of the artist, the freedom of doing art: you can decide what you want to do, how you want to do it,  and why and where  and when and which and who you want to be.


i know another almost kitch word i am now using, freedom, we can discuss why later too.


anyway , this one , liberty, freedom,  when i began to call myself an artist i really decided to go for it, and in a way to fight for it ( i say -in a way -to say that there are of course many contradictions in the thinking i try to elaborate since then, but as always when you start to attach importance to some values of course you lose others or a sense of balance, but i am working on it)


so, to come back to the big surprise, yes, you understand  it opens up the horizon such a face to face, it blows you, you change a lot in a second.

it gave me at that stage of life a bigbig hope in the determined suburban future i was raising-  suburban  meaning, according to me, a place where people eat and sleep and repeat the codes, the norms, the established, and most of all with no culture around or to be fair almost none; so to put it in adjectives a sexist patriarchal stupido-aggressive  fossilized environment. i know i am exaggerating, there was a library ok.


so years after this i entered the art school of marseille (we can discuss that too, how such a thing happens)


there, at the contemporary art museum of the city, i will see a collective show titled “poésure et peintrie”, i guess you understand, the two notions take each a part of the other one to embrace each other. it is a beautiful title


so of course i am like a crazy one in the show, i say and say " it s what i wanna do of my life its what i wanna do of my life !


funny enough i don t remember the most subtle art pieces in there, but one , presenting a concrete mixer where letters were thrown in and the machine was plugged on, this was producing a huge noise especially in a museum like a church context and all this would create the poem! very cool! i mean it.


(i tried to find out from whom was the work, but couldnt find it till now in google, i asked concrete mixer and poésie but mainly the mixers come in images; what it might have been was a work from an artist from the oulipo, "ouvroir de litterature potentielle ", roughly translated as  -workshop of potential literature. it was mainly french-speaking writers and mathematicians who seeks to create works using constrained writing technique, founded by raymond queneau for the most famous, but this can not be, because putting letters in a concrete mixer is exactly the contrary of a constraint, ok i have to do deeper researches)



so anyway this experience i would call it "the beyond  the words "


so interesting 


when i write m i feel free exactly because of that beyond. i write what i want, the way i want, no more grammar, syntax, coherence or logic of a raisoning or meaning diktat. and this can be translated immediately  philosophically by a " i do what i want, the way i want", you see the freedom concept emerging in all its splendor. (i know you can read it also as a very restrictive primal sense of the word freedom, or even worst as the capitalist one,  the "my" freedom, but we have to start somewhere right? i mean in the very moment of being confront with the void in front and the full surrounding us, which is every morning, what else than to call freedom? )


so writing m

tracing drawing m

spraying painting m

it doesnt mean anything and it doesnt have to mean anything


and it can mean something


and it can sound something 


one thing for sure it feels something doing it


pleasure,joy,playfulness, necessity,emergency,anger, feeling of unlimited, all that at the same time.


writing m feels like reading hemingway wrapping the fishes he just caught in the sun also rises, wrapping them into leaves he has found around the river, direct, immediate, no detour, full contact, iam here and i do what i have to: the presence


and at the same time  it is  i dont know what iam doing but i do it, a detachment, a space bigger and bigger between the act and the result going until letting the wind intervenes in the painting if it comes around, so a big loss of control, a let it be, a dropping: the absence


cause it s always about escaping! 


being here and then finding another wave there,when it feels here blocked 


with the m as a material you can write words. using this m, some pieces of mine says " merde la police ", or "merde la popo". some viewers of these art works told me they found this statement stupid and/or easy. easy to say easy to do they meant. i dont think so. i think its important to say merde la police, to write merde la police,very important. do you say merde la police?

 it can reminds us  for instance how much its a construction, meaning it is not a natural state so it is human built so it can be un=built; and it can also bring us back to a very emotional-universal revolt-scream, which sometimes is very difficult to pronounce without being arrested, molested,banished or killed. so you see it is important. 

know that in la police i point not only the police agent, but the police there is in the language, inside the mind and the body, at the borders of countries, my police your police, the control in another word. we all have police inside us: gender police, color police, social class police.. roland barthes calls it the doxa in his book the mythologies. 

you see that s why i think it is important to say merde la police, it keep us on an un-tranquility of the mind which is crucial, tiring but crucial. 

and to finish on this now, if in the art we stop saying what is important to us to say, the art where it is supposed to be the land of freedom, or at least you have in front of you one believer of this belief, who will keep saying it then ?  


you see the kind of childish selfish freedom of the beginning of the text is already shifting with a freedom directly linked with the responsibility of an artist. i believe in the power of words. see the censure of them in china internet or without blaming only the chinese, i tell you a story: the italian tv came to meet me once i was living in zurich, they wanted to do an interview  in my studio, i said yes, but i will hang a merde berlusconi paper behind me that will enter the frame while being filmed, they said no, we don t come. see, police is fast so art as to be as fast. really i mean what i say. thats why i believe in first gesture, direct contact with the sheet of paper or canvas. with a minimum of tools,of means. going to the studio i have in mind the 27years of mandela being imprisoned, what do you do in such an awful context, better not getting crazy, better start to create something with what is around you, meaning for him, mind-fingers, you see? its the way i want to work, using the power of my mind-imagination to flee any alienation ( lets not forget what i call the professionalization in the visual art world which includes budgetisation-production-promotion-marketisation, but this i would like to write another essay on it and present it another time)



i know all what i say has its limits, saying merde writing m and i am not mandela; but i really think it is important to keep sidestepping the facility of the mind and most of all of the material world;  in that case i refer to yves klein' s void, or lee ufan '  space in between the stone and the steel plate or agnes martin' s silence, or cy twombly trembling. the sobriety, the parsimony, the white left on the page as free space.


so to end up, mixing up litterature  and graffiti with the tension spirit-materiality , all coming from the end of my fingers, to say it fast, conducts to confuse the genre for getting it all, the interiority of the book and the outdoor of the street language, the emergency of one and the time it takes of the other one, and while the line get traced i feel free, i feel the time passing softly, passing through me and the line, we are one, and appears a strong statement, as strong as a truism of jenny holzer (like once i wrote "you like your country too much") or to the other extreme, a-non-articulated feel like language, like this succession, repetition you can see here of m s or beginning of m s, and l and e, in order to reach a sense of a meaning rather than -a- meaning. 



i think iam writing a book i dont see yet


the pages are there there and there


perhaps it is life


life of all of us


we don t see yet


but what we can see is that m is pretty liberating



marketization and professionalization of the art and the artist

*read on friday, april 13, 2012 at 7pm  by anne-lise coste read at toomer labzda gallery


between painting and text  / artlog: april 11, 2012


Anne-Lise Coste was born in Marseille in 1973 and lives and works in New York. She has recently presented exhibitions at Modern and Contemporary Art Museum of Santander and Cantabria (2011); Voici un dessin suisse, Aargauer Kunsthaus, Aarau, Switzerland (2011); Collection 3, Fondation Salomon, Alex, France (2010); Salon du dessin Contemporain, Carrousel du Lovre, Paris (2010); Professionalization is Killing Art, Kunstmuseum St. Gallen, St. Gallen (2010); Beginnings, Middles and Ends, Curated by_Vienna09, Viena, curated by Gianni Jetzer (2009); Violência Institucional e Poetica, Fundación Serralves, Oporto (2008).


anne-lise coste: m, l, e / march 4 - april 22, 2012


download m, l, e press release.pdf