press release

Le jour des esprits est notre nuit
The Spirits’ Day Is Our Night
June 13–September 15, 2019

When I was a child, a woman afflicted by this dreadful condition, living in the Aeschenvorstadt neighborhood, here in Basel, in the house called Zum Rupf near my father’s house, was taken away by the city agents. The Magistrate, as I have mentioned in my book entitled Praxis, appointed several robust men, and tasked them to dance with her night and day—taking turns when they got tired. The affair lasted nearly a month, in front of many a witness, and almost without interruption, despite the soles of her foot being badly damaged. Even though she was occasionally forced to sit down to feed herself, and was nearly overcome with sleep, her body was still agitated by sudden fits and kept shaking as if she was dancing—until, completely exhausted and unable to stand on her feet, she was forced to stop.

Robinson believed that designers of artefacts should seek to emulate the morphogenesis of life forms and pursued this and similar questions in encounters with flowers. He was inclined to biophilia, the love of life and living systems having discovered Lynn Margulis's view that symbiotic relationships between organisms, often of different phyla, are a primary force in evolution. He was inspired by her endorsement of Russian botanists, who had formulated the theory in the 1920s, and by her denunciation of Neo-Darwinism and all 'capitalistic, competitive, cost-benefit' interpretations of Darwin.

Life at Fond-Zombi was lived with doors and windows open: night had eyes, and the wind long ears, and no one could ever have enough of other people. As soon as I arrived in the village I knew who was aggressor and who was victim, who still held his soul high and who was on the road to ruin, who poached in waters belonging to his friend or brother, who was suffering, who was dying. But the more I learned the more it seemed that the main thing escaped me, slipped between my fingers like an eel...

The lives of all beings in the universe are one: it is the motion of the loosest matter. Death is rest, or the cessation of motion.

When our eyes are dead with the yãkoana powder during the day, we sleep in a ghost state at night. Then, as soon as we doze off, the xapiri start to come down to us. No need to drink the yãkoana again. Their clamor suddenly rings out in the night like the strident calls of a company of parrots in the trees. And at once the tangled multitude of their luminous paths appears in the dark, each time drawing closer to you and sparkling like moon slivers. Then you start to answer the xapiri’s songs and their value of dream quickly reaches you. Your body remains stretched out in its hammock, but your image and breath of life fly off with the spirits. The forest then recedes at great speed. Soon you can no longer see its trees and you feel yourself floating over a great void, like in an airplane. You fly in dream, very far from your house and your land, on the xapiri’s paths of light. From there, you can see all the things of the sky, the forest, and the waters that the elders could contemplate before you. The spirits’ day is our night, which is why they seize us by surprise, during our sleep.

We are contenders, my likeness
We sleep in the same dreams.
During my sleepless nights,
I see your slights meandering through the window.
And without touching you, in your body,
I feel all the tinglings,
All your inner turns,
All your aversions all your perversions.
Where are you, my likeness
In which corner of the planisphere…
I have no doubt, my mirror
Will tell me about your wish
To wander again about this earth.

Death is life's first and final definition.

These texts were taken from the vast selection of sources and voices that nourished Le jour des esprits est notre nuit. They include Felix Platter, Observationum, in hominis affectibus plerisque…, liber primus (Basel: Ludwig König, 1614); Patrick Keiller, Robinson in Ruins, 2010, 101”; Simone Schwarz-Bart, The Bridge of Beyond, trans. Barbara Bray (New York: Atheneum, 1974); Franz Anton Mesmer, Mémoire de F. A. Mesmer, Docteur en médecine, sur ses découvertes (Paris, 1799); Davi Kopenawa & Bruce Albert, The Falling Sky (Cambrige, MA/London: Harvard University Press, 2013); Monique Mbeka Phoba, Yemadja (Brussels: Éditions Mabiki, 2009); Maya Deren, Divine Horsemen: The Living Gods of Haiti (London: McPherson, 1953).

Le jour des esprits est notre nuit is part of Plein Soleil, l’été des centres d’art. The exhibition is kindly supported by IEAC, Institut européen des arts céramiques, Guebwiller.

Curated by Catalina Lozano & Elfi Turpin.

With Lázara Rosell Albear & Sammy Baloji, Meris Angioletti, Minia Biabiany, Oier Etxeberria, Tamar Guimarães & Kasper Akhøj, Sheroanawe Hakihiiwe, Candice Lin, Sean Lynch, Beatriz Santiago Muñoz.

CRAC Alsace is a member of d.c.a and Versant Est.