press release

Episode two of a cycle begun at the Fondation d’Entreprise Ricard in June 2014 with the humainnonhumain exhibition, La Chose takes this reflection on a nonhuman human reality a stage further by addressing its inhuman, superhuman or post-human aspects. Starting out from the everyday usage of these terms, the show probes whatever goes beyond, exceeds or denies the human, which in turn can appear inexplicable, obscure, weird, wonderful, fearsome—one of whose names would be La Chose (the Thing).

La chose, not Les choses. The singular definite article indicates an indefinite reality: it extracts the thing from a rich semantic field populated with countless concrete and abstract objects: les choses (things).

"Chose" comes from "cosa," which comes from "causa": the Chose would be its own cause and exist by itself. La Chose advances towards us humans, beckons to us, and slips away in an endless backwash movement, resisting any capture by the senses or concepts. So it is an enigma.

Most often perceived as a mysterious threat from outside, the Thing, a conventional theme of science-fiction literature and movies, refers to the emblematic film The Thing directed by John Carpenter, a past master of a genre blending science-fiction, the fantastic and horror. A number of his films involve inhuman and superhuman, generally extraterrestrial forces who threaten humanity—for example, as shapeshifting earthlings to duplicate and destroy it. In the manner of these allegories, the La Chose exhibition could be recounting the last days of humanity as it vanishes, endlessly disappearing, completing, fine-tuning its fantasized and dreaded end. But—let’s be terrestrially realistic—these nonhuman forces are actually all-too human: they turn the body into a battlefield, society into a theatre of cruelty, and the brain into a post-human alchemy workshop.

Humans are structurally and intrinsically in a relation with the Thing, without knowing what it is. A Freudian and Lacanian psychoanalytical concept, Das Ding names an unnamed or unnamable, something that exists with no specific signifier: a lost object that was never lost and is being looked for. Might it not be the necessary and elusive third term of a triangular relationship: reality, the subject, and the Thing? An enigmatic presence located in a beyond, but where? Everywhere and nowhere. It would then designate an empty place that occupies no space in reality, an empty body, a ghost, moving about beyond the pleasure and reality principles, sometimes imposing its law, obscurely. The Thing is in fact an operation, that of the inevitable relationship of the human with the nonhuman reality, with the outside world, with a presence that precedes it. Moreover, each preserves within him the traces of this presence, confusedly, in hypnagogic sensations or images: distant, infra-linguistic memories of a contact, of a primordial encounter with another, always there, either too much or not enough. Infinitely variable, the manifestations of the Thing are not necessarily tragic—far from it—even if it is in the intense, paroxysmal, ecstatic or violent moments that one feels it and becomes aware of it.

Similarly, we more readily recall the appallingly brutal acts dotted throughout the history of humanity and societies: signs of action of the Thing within humanity, they would have us believe in the existence of a Supreme Evil Being whose reasons would remain forever hidden.

–Anne Bonnin, April 2015

Director: Marie Cozette