Sunday, November 26, 2006
Introduction to African Contemporary Art
INTRODUCTION TO AFRICAN CONTEMPORARY ART
Cameroon | Switzerland
8, rue Cels
F - 75014 Paris
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1. The future of a Metaphor
The debate on African contemporary art has only just begun. And failing reliable tools and established references, everyone chips in their personal little speech and contributions. This domain has gradually turned into a huge strategic absurd battle field where all kinds of mercenaries and adventurers rage. It's as though, for want of deeper reflection, everyone believed that all you needed to do to possess the truth was be the first, like in the days of the first discoveries. Whereas there is no absolute truth, neither here nor in any other creative field. There is only subjective truth, a vision that has to reach a certain degree of freedom to be able to express itself with new ideas, sending back to t he garrets of exoticism all those things that should never have come out of them in the first place. There is no history of art in Africa, we're told. But what is meant by this concept? This notion assumes a history, an evolution, a localisation that signifies something precise for a specific region of the world. The notion of History of Art does not bear a single universal vocation. And when we talk of history which history are we referring to? Art from the Ming dynasty, the statues on Easter Island, Dogon masks or the Sistine Chapel?
This exhibition was conceived to feed this debate and confirm the existence of innovative African creation, continuing the experience started in Spain with Otro Pais - the other country. The Other Journey is a journey of the senses, emotions and aesthetics. The continually moving story of a world in perpetual mutation and artists whose only guarantee of belonging to our century is their work. The artists selected come from the Caribbean, Africa, the United States. They are united by a communal history and memory. But beyond this perhaps artificial link we notice how much they have each forged their own personal language, that has either been elaborated in the land of their origins or else thousands of miles from the country of their ancestors, as if to say that the issue of being born here or there is not the real problem any more. This other journey was built on the ruins of a history that is nothing more than a metaphor, a lyrical illusion.
The notion of African contemporary art is a decoy. No-one today knows how to define what it really covers. Yet we talk about it constantly. In order to conjure up the demons of History and to let it have a real foundation and benefit from real autonomy. But the fight, for it is indeed a fight, promises to be tough. You can't cover several centuries of History in just a few lines. Even if we can all be hazily aware of the fact that in order to exist, twenty-first century art will have to manage to become metaphor. A metaphor that would encompass the whole of humanity. Notions of borders and nationalities would thus be definitively abolished.
The approach towards African art, be it today's or yesterday's, is and always has been of the same ilk as the anthropometric approach of the first explorers on the continent. A kind of typology of race and kind. The first important symposiums organised with the open ambition of exploding the myths and exploring a new approach were initiated in the 1990's. I will only mention two, for the record, that took place in 1991. Africa Explores the Twentieth Century in New York and the Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen in Dusseldorf, initiated by Nadja Taskov-Köhler and Elisabeth Luchesi. The American symposium tried to pose the numerous questions that are raised as soon as one deals with African contemporary art, while Dusseldorf was more specifically interested in Nigeria. These meetings showed that the way African creation is approached in the West is tainted with a lack of comprehension that sometimes verges on malevolence. In fact, both in New York and in Dusseldorf, the people in charge of reading out their communications all had the same background: academics, scientists, ethnological museum curators - plus a critic and a gallery owner in Dusseldorf - and they implied that specific grids of interpretation correspond to African art, albeit from this declining twentieth century. According to them, only an in depth study of the civilisation, history and setting can give this creation any meaning. There were even speakers in Germany who confirmed that African contemporary art's place is in ethnological museums. Thankfully, some artists could also express themselves with their own language both in New York and Dusseldorf.
So why does this specific vision, or more precisely non-vision, still persist today, when the only criteria for judgement are based on emotion and sensitivity? - But, Jan Hoet, then director of the Kassel Documenta would reply, Africa does not have a sufficiently elaborated history or theory of art for us to lean on and what's more, he would add, the European stance that has been developed since the end of the Renaissance is so intrinsically linked to a specific context it would be useless to try and apply it to Africa. Well then? Does it all come down to a question of semantics? Are the references linked to Africa confined to terms like post-colonial, arts and crafts, urban or utilitarian art? I refuse to go along with that. Before art, wherever it comes from, can be considered first for what it is - and not in relation to prejudices which mean that both the art market and contemporary art museums, already overwhelmed by their chronic incapacity to put emotion and true freedom of choice behind prospering classifications - the legitimacy of our position must be reaffirmed over and over again. I won't go as far as the indignation of Nigerian artist Emmanuel Taiwo Jegede who was opposed in Dusseldorf to the idea that funeral sculptures could have been presented as being contemporary African art. "Who, he said, would think of going into a western cemetery in order to find the essence of a country's contemporary artistic expression?"
The way I see it, the inanity of these debates in fact reflects the limits reached by those who up to now have made themselves the major representatives, specialists and promoters of this art. For they suffer from an objectivity problem. They are incapable of envisaging an African work of art without the tics and references that their training and past have condemned them to. The oncoming era, with its reams of new complexities, has nothing to satisfy them, nothing they can cling on to. The world has moved too fast to let decrepit certainties still serve as any kind of reference. We should no longer look at an artist, albeit an African artist, while only taking the criterion of his native village into account. Besides, apart from the artist himself, who can still be interested in this village protected by the ravages of time, in the highly complex and secretive process of creation? Note that we are still a long way away from that notion of metaphor rising up above all ideas of belonging and origins to encompass the world that I mentioned earlier. Which just goes to show that it's future is far from being settled. And perhaps that is the reason why it has become urgent to throw light onto the mechanisms that have led to the situation we know today, so that African contemporary art can avoid falling back into a prosaism that would condemn it, in the short run, from emerging free of all superfluous and prejudicial considerations.
2. The Exception and the Rule
Like all markets, the international art market is governed by rules. You can contest their justification all you like, the fact is they exist and are a law unto themselves. The only problem and reservations that can be emitted concern the application of these rules, for as soon as you leave the West the principle of exception applies. Europe is the rule, the rest of the world is the exception. The prejudiced complex hanging over African contemporary art is the perfect illustration. Whether you admit it or not, its origins lose themselves in the long night of slavery. One does not dare believe that there is nothing less than a eurocentrist strategy hidden behind this attitude, in order to maintain an age-old status quo about contemporary African creation. The market and the critic - the power - would thus stay on the same side, without division.
To justify slavery the church decided that the black man, deprived of a soul, was not a human being in his own right. Following the same kind of logic, the absence of Africa and its diaspora in the international art ring was justified by decreeing that Africa had no artists. The first manoeuvre was the ethnologisation of African creation in the 15th century. An exterior, anthropometric gaze was posed on the sculptures. Africa was the land of curiosity and exoticism. Africa represented an elsewhere. The advantage of elsewhere is that a distance is created between the watcher and the watched. The border is set up right from the start. The other is shut away into a straight-jacket of principles and analysis, condemned never to resemble "us". Once you define its specificity, you can kill it. Hitler did no differentlyÉ
Intellectual talk in the colonial years was built on the same argumentation. Right up to the present day, when the same counter truths are still current. No matter that in the 30's men like the German Frobenius tried to make a different voice heard (1). The dominant theory remained unshakeable. No matter that the Fauvists, Cubists and Surrealists looked upon African sculptures with aesthetic emotions. Africa did not exist. The norms that defined western art history were individuality, the artist as a solitary character and desanctified art celebrating the death of God. As though the West's sole art had not been religious at one point, right up to the Renaissance when art became something else. And didn't the Renaissance artists themselves work in studios where various apprentices were in charge of making the colours, backgrounds and numerous other little jobs? In what way does this form of collective art differ from that practised by African sculptors of centuries past?
No matter. Despite the storms of cultural alienation, the Africans have held fast and made it through the century. A certain path has today been covered, with the natural exception of some revisionists who will always be around. A very small path. For the old demons in the art world remain, demons who want African art to be an art from elsewhere. The humanity that makes us all fellow creatures who look at others in the same way we look at ourselves is still denied. The specificity of vision is the only specificity.
We will never assert Africa's place in the development of worldwide culture enough, today more so than ever. There are no lack of examples and I won't list them here. The artists are there to prove paralytic minds wrong through their work. Ousmane Sow's, Bili Bidjocka's, Ouattara's and Willy Bester's are there to tell us about their humanity and how they belong. To tell us with their own voices and experiences, like Raushenberg, Clemente or Barcelo, who they are and why their work concerns us all.
3. Anthropometric visions.
Through what is commonly known in the western word as History of Art, Europe granted itself with a monopoly over good taste and the infallibility of judgement. We should nonetheless add ethnology to this. In regions like the Caribbean or Africa it is no stranger to the present situation. This speciality revealed a whole group of mechanisms of human history. The Europeans, turning up in foreign lands in the 15th century with their weapons, their crosses and their appetite, needed justification for the largest genocide ever perpetrated in history. Between the 15th and the 19th centuries, over 100 million Africans were deported or killed in the slave trade. How could they admit that this black gold had any kind of human quality and thence human rights? Their so-called science and superiority needed to be established through a scientific truth. In my opinion ethnology - and it should be noted at this point that new currents which have risen up against colonial theories have been around for a few years now, exploring other approaches and trying to give Human sciences new directions - was merely a way of maintaining intellectual and moral domination over the colonies. From then on, the works they "discovered" among these primitive peoples became study objects that had nothing to do with art, but were supposed to help understand a civilisation. In this way, all artistic production was seen as a primitive ritual element until relatively recently and was deprived of its artistic qualities right from the start. Seeing as the so-called primitive peoples were incapable of creating objects that were neither functional nor religious (thus bearing witness to the contradictory principle of exclusion, which means the same causes do not produce the same effects according to which part of the world you're looking at), in other words incapable of producing art, according to the new European standards.
The system of thought produced by the dialectic of domination was just a tool at the service of another will for domination, if we refer to the language system used for Africa starting from the first major journeys, later called the colonial expeditions. This language still prevails today. The most interesting word in this exotic dictionary is the word savage, whose evolution betrays how words can be imprisoned once they are diverted from their primary signification. Roland Barthes described the social codes inherent to all language systems. According to him, language is a system of recognition linked to common references. Consequently, the words we use in a given context, with given groups, do not cover the same meaning. This code will only serve to determine your belonging to one or other group and give information about your past and your education. Through these language micro-systems the world is always looked at and analysed according to a unique point of view to which a universal value will be attributed, even if this point of view is only shared by a minority. "Language is a legislation, idiom is the code. We do not see the power that is in idiom, because we forget that all idiom is a classification and that all classifications are oppressive"(2). It is one of the tools that serves to establish distinction codes (3). Because of its nature, this value refuses to take into account references that are not its own. It only functions uni-dimensionally. A dimension that can be called ethnocentrism. In 1948, Jean-Paul Sartre was already noting this appropriation inherent to the western system of thought: "For the white man has enjoyed the privilege of seeing without being seen for three thousand years; his vision was pure, the light from his eyes dragged all things from the shadow of birth, the whiteness of his skin, it was another vision, condensed light. The white man, white because he was man, white like the day, white like truth, white like virtue, lit up creation like a torch, disclosed the secret white essence of human beings." (4)
We can therefore see that the roles were handed out right from the start. The savages - the ancient Greeks similarly called all those who weren't Greek barbarian - are all those who are not European. The words have changed, of course, but their meaning remains the same. And if, as Hegel says, we think through words, western countries have kept prejudices that are so deeply rooted within they certainly aren't ready to get away from them. For example, the distinction between written and oral: when the Europeans landed on African soil for the first time and found this oral civilisation (that they wouldn't even have called civilisation) they had the feeling they were entering an inferior world. A world that they could bring the light of their age-old knowledge to. Nothing existed outside of the printed word. This void was so taken for granted that even a mind as brilliant as Hegel himself asserted: " Africa is not a historical part of the world. It has no movements or developments to show, no historical movements within. It's northern stretch belongs to the European or Asian world; what we specifically mean by Africa is the anti-historical spirit, the undeveloped spirit, still subjected to natural conditions and which should only be presented here as being the threshold of History."(5)
Nevertheless it eventually became necessary to find a substitute for the term savage. So the word primitive arrived which, despite its scientific connotation, boiled down to the same meaning. From then on, in the hypocrisy of having an easy conscience, the decision is made to educate the savages even if, as the French philosopher Lucien Lévy-Bruhl said in 1923: "The mental functioning of primitive peoples is basically different to that of Europeans, and these differences are hereditary and unchangeable."(6)
The photographs taken by European anthropologists to measure natives like monkeys inspired me with the term "Anthropometric Vision". It took me a long time to realise - no doubt because the parallel seemed so outrageous - that anthropometric photography was also used to study lunatics and criminals: a whole section of the population made up of asocial people, in relation to a certain culture. As if to better define the specificity of the "other". Once African skulls had been measured and Africans had been studied and classified as a speciesÉ then even the vision a young person could have of Africa could no longer be a vision entirely exempt of these stereotypes that remain in our minds. The African remains identified with this anthropometric image that we can gauge. How then to admit that there is no need to enter a culture in order to understand and feel an emotion when faced with a work of art, that emotion is the primary vector of understanding? I believe in the existence of a transcendental aesthetic vision of the world: Kant said that everything that appeals universally and without concept is "beautiful"; he said it somewhat briefly.
The thesis of the universality of taste strikes me as being of questionable pertinence. Nonetheless, Kant implies that reason cannot be the unique vector of taste and on this point I willingly agree. Because our human side means that we can communicate with anyone, any other human being. Points of view that show up differences are mere details. One of the problems of criticism when it comes to talking about African art is to categorise everything. It is important to break down these mechanisms and make the vision prevail. Without this approach, without this untouched vision, there will never be exhibitions of African artists like there are exhibitions of Picasso or any other western artist at the MOMA or the Pompidou Centre. But let's get one thing clear. Being exhibited at the MOMA or the Pompidou Centre is not the ultimate goal. Large institutions are merely the symbols of the paralysis of the so-called "international" art world which takes refuge in its certitude without ever daring to venture further afield. It is obvious that the adventure of the future will be played on different ground. And the Africans will have to be ready for it.
4. The Invisible Man
I think it would be useful to remember that the situation of black artists - for let's not get it wrong, this is who we are talking about - is the same all over the world. Whether they live in London, New York, Bamako or Port au Prince, black artists are plagued by invisibility, in the sense of Ralph Ellison's words (7). Social invisibility, of course, but also - and possibly even more trying - artistic invisibility. And this possibly constitutes the sole reason why African artists must fully take part in this international concert. Above all else, African contemporary art is duty bound to be visible, with its similarities, its differences and its specificity. Without this it will carry on being the poor relation of a history that hasn't been written for it. This obviously does not mean that only the African must be perceptible through the work. The artist is a whole, with indissociable experiences. In a recent interview in the New York Times Outtara himself says that his most recent work is linked to the initiation he received in the Ivory Coast where his roots are found. Up to today one stuck to this indication of origin, to the expense of all else. This is where the anthropometric vision comes in.
The Magicians of the Earth exhibition that was so talked about was simply an extra representation of alterity in its most caricatural form, no matter what the good intentions at the root of the project were. But I think the curators of the exhibition gave in to exoticism. Or else, and this is even more dire, the works they presented actually corresponded to the idea they have of modern African creation. Failing lying and falling into that specificity I was talking about, I don't think you can show a Boltanski next to a man who makes coffins. He is a craftsman, regardless of the quality of his work. We don't have the right to tell the visitor who thinks he is going to discover so-called African contemporary art for the first time: "here's what they do in the West and now here's what they do in Africa", because the approach is slanted from the outset. The principle of putting a certain African creation out of context is particularly 'in' at the moment. The museum acts as a telluric centre, an extra-territorial sacred place, all references are abandoned to create an environment that will make this or that peasant "conceptual". The work or its author no longer have a role at all. They simply intervene as an instrument of a superior will: the omnipotent God curator. Yet an artist is someone who thinks up his creation, who knows why he is an artist and whose continual research can be seen through his work. Some "specialist" or other hasn't turned up with his prejudices and his truths, as a kind of deus ex machina to decree what his art was made of in his place and on his behalf. And yet this is the way the West always approaches African creation. Working on the mistaken assumption that the notion of History of Art is absent from the black continent, it reinvents it from one day to the next, according to its own interests. Interests which are often a far cry from what it says.
Other more recent exhibitions cowered behind political or historical arguments. But there again aesthetics and creation as such were pushed aside. These exhibitions gave rise to a whole anthology of classifications, the most lasting being Suzanne Vogel's (8) and Pierre Gaudibert's in the book he devoted to contemporary African art (9) the same year. Vogel and Gaudibert tried to establish if not a hierarchy then at least a distinction between the different forms of art from Africa. The section that directly concerns us was called International Art by Vogel and Knowing Art by Gaudibert. This classification encompassed artists that can be seen exhibited in western galleries for the former and those who had received academic learning in fine Arts schools for the latter. But this merely complicated a debate that was already particularly tortuous, by creating a reactive will for a return to nature and authenticity. The artists that lived with their century found themselves banished from these circles, on the pretext that their work was merely a copy of what could already be seen in the West.
We only accept exchange with a person we consider to be our equal. Exchange with those we consider inferior is impossible. Quite a few of us were moved by the way Nam June Paik treated the work of Ghanaian Samuel Kane Kwei during his New York exhibition from November 1994 to January 1995 (10). One-way exchange is unfortunately still just as frequent today. Yet we are living in the age of information highways and universalization. Let's not confuse universalization and uniformization. What is universalism, if not a melting pot where Nouba, Fan and Bamiléké art is found just as easily as cubism, arte povera, constructivism, conceptual art etc. It has become our shared collective memory. And yet the African is still refused this notion of creative appropriation. We want him to stay in his natural state. The critics - very few of whom are really interested in African art - are on a hopeless quest for a certain purity that dismisses the African artist from the art market. The myth of the good savage lingers on. At best they will say that he has gone back on what he has done, that he is alienated.
But this attitude is possibly inspired by the opposition between communal life and individualism. He who fears change is he who doubts his own existence. Without wanting to generalise, I think we are reaching a stage where Europe and the North are increasingly fragile; fear of the other dominates, both politically and intellectually. The fear of being diluted into the "other" is at the root of the rise in protectionism and nationalism. This self-enclosure is perhaps one of the deeper reasons behind the art crisis in the West. Africa brings a breath of fresh air, in the very real sense of the term, an earthly, cosmic side proposes a new cosmogony. Significant art is art that comes from somewhere. You cannot create an ex-nihilo art. Artistic creation is governed by an imperative necessity. It is work of asceticism and meditation. Lavoisier said "nothing creates itself, nothing loses itself, everything transforms itself". Creation is a process of re-creation, destroying in order to reconstruct, but always starting off with the same paste. And you can feel this paste, from the conceptual work of an African to the more figurative work of someone else, you can sense the origin. That is what makes this art's strength and durability, and perhaps that is what scares people. It carries a strength of soul within. Everything is not pure reason! Malraux said it in his day and he was right. Doing things full of spirit that have a meaning now only exists in Africa and more broadly speaking in the Third World.
Symbol of the separation between Church and State, the West has burned its old icons. The African artist does not feel the need to kill God. God is multiple. He comes in many shapes. He is wind and water. This gives creation a rousing strength. The Westerner is attracted to this strength, even if he only notices the outer shell. He sees the signs and is fascinated. The problem is that a sign which does not talk grows weaker. Like Pierre Verger reminded us (11), the great healers had set up the theory of the effective wordÉ "I give you this plant. If you swallow it down like any old pill, it won't have an effect on you. But if you take it while saying the right words in relation to your illness and your psychological profile, the plant will have an effectÉ". An empty art is a dead art. The art of the 80's was an empty art. Only wind will remain, "a black hole in the memories of us all."(12)
Parallel to the relative decline of western creation we witness the rapid development of African artists that sends us back to the Hegelian master-and-slave paradox. In this upturned dialectic it appears quite clearly that the slave needs the master in order to be a slave less than the master needs the slave in order to be master. Who is the real master? The master or the slave? We are crossing the era where the idol and the myths collapse one by one. If we could stick purely to a notion of exchange, the misunderstandings would be swept away. The scientific, artistic and intellectual studies of the other are acceptable if you agree to invert the situation. We are at the dawn of an extremely interesting period. People do not know who they are any more and we all have to reposition ourselves in relation to world movements. Otherwise there will be an explosion. This is valid for South Africa, Yugoslavia and the rest of the world. We have to rethink our relationship with the "other". If we don't then it's all over. This is all the more true in art, for art is the illustration of all human passions. Everything we do in art is what we do elsewhere, in love, in warÉ with gunsÉ Those guys aren't like us, so we eliminate them.
The Invisible Man Ralph Ellison spoke of is no longer entirely invisible. Today he can give back as good as he got. His capacity to react calls everything into question. The West is completely lost, but so is Africa. It incarnates what Fanon called The Damned of the Earth, all those excluded from the G-7! What is interesting about the situation is that the opponents prepare for combat, each one ignoring the other's strength! Despite their apparent emancipation, a kind of "colonial emancipation" persists with Africans, but an inverted one, where they say "well, he is the master". It is just as trying for the slave to discover that the master is merely another slave as it is for the master to discover that the slave is another master. It is a latency period that favours the updating of old reactionary theories. Those who have run out of munitions throw their shoes. To some extent, art reflects politics. Not so long ago people said that African art didn't exist. Today it does. Even if the old suspicions still linger on. Even if it is picked on by "specialists" as soon as it wanders from the beaten track of conventional images. It has gained a certain recognition. It is a step forward. And in order to make this first step forward probing, and not quickly transformed into two steps back, it is up to us to try and draw up the contours which, no matter how random they may be, will nonetheless be tools for the future.
6. The Invention of Memory
"It was the between-the-two-wars years, a few dozen African students woke up among other youngsters - West Indians - stripped, naked and black like them. For years they had recited their "Ancestors the Gauls" and declined "amo, amas, amatÉ" along with the white-hearts. And now they were being reproached for it and learning they had no heritage, that they would only ever know how to build imitation sand houses, like children on the beach. The foundations of the West were shaken up, vigorous thinkers were waging war against Reason and surrealist snipers, infiltrated behind enemy lines, were attacking the command posts of Logic with "miraculous weapons" from Asia and Africa. Actually, orientalists and ethnologists had piled them up in museums and libraries since the end of the 19th century. They were our masters, who saved us from despair by revealing our own riches to us. No!, we went off looking for our true masters in the heart of Africa, in the court of princes and in family wakes, even into the Wise Men's furthest retreats. They were the wandering singers and the sorcerers, those that are called "masters-of-the-head" over there, or better still, "clairvoyants". (13)
Right from the end of the 30's, Senghor and Césaire tackled the question of autonomous singular black creation. A creation that would get rid of colonialist supervision on the one hand and bring about the synthesis of its history on the other. Edouard Glissant wondered (14) about this problematic that is common to all colonised peoples. How to sort through the complex heritage that clutters up memories? How to make allowances? Many years earlier, Césaire had already answered these questions by asserting that "as long as the West Indians don't accept the reality of history, which assumes accepting slavery, they will be incapable of existing"(15). During the post-war years the Blacks fought to follow that path. After 1945, studios run by European painters flourished in Africa and in the Caribbean. They had decided to preach the good word of art to people that had been scorned up till then. Against their will, they nonetheless brought with them techniques and references whose adaptation on black soil was very risky. A new revolution was needed in the 70's for artists to become massively aware that the Greek model was null and void and obviously obsolete everywhere else, and therein decide to construct a language that would be their very own.
Thence comes a problem of definition: what reality can cover the term African contemporary art? At first we are tempted to reply: all productions from Africa or original artists from the continent. This initial point of view obviously limits the field of investigation and reduces the spheres of influence by confining this domain to Africa alone, forbidding interest in artists whose histories may be less obvious but are no less rooted in the black continent. The political and ideological evolution of these regions actually contains many similarities which make any attempt at differentiation futile. Now is not the time for arbitrary fragmentation and sterile distributions. A time for unity is upon us - not political unity, looking for a utopian African nationality, but a historical and intellectual reconciliation.
It rapidly became clear that these different sensitivities were gathered round one idea - the notion of memory. An inalienable, unshakeable memory. As though, having followed diverging paths, these sources of inspiration found a common meeting ground. The stories told through African or Caribbean works are intimately connected together, like different fruit on the same tree. All you have to do is dig down a little to find the spot where memory becomes an aesthetic research that leads to different results, or even opposing ones. Creators who have shared the same cradle have to confront the same problems in their respective countries. The way I see it, they represent the only possible modernity. Brought up here or there, living somewhere else, they had to assimilate the other's thought and language and make it their own. They had to look and understand. And the translation of this virtually initiatory progression results, for most finished works, in a modern cosmogony where nothing is excluded. A cosmogony they were forced to dream up in the ruins of a country, a continent, a history that is theirs yet also someone else's. The question of self-assertion that underlay all the demands of negritude has been abolished by the quest for a real synthesis, a harmonious symbiosis which would not try to separate the contributions in some kind of schizophrenic exercise. To refuse history; in a word, to refuse life. And if it is true that you can never rewrite history, at least they still have the hope of writing new pages, here and now.
Translated by Gail de Courcy-Ireland