Fragilités at Le Printemps de Septembre
Daniel Garçia Andujar | Tema Celeste, 20 January 2003
Exactly one year after the explosion in the AZF Factory that caused serious damage to the entire city, Toulouse hosted the second edition of the Printemps de Septembre, an event curated by Marta Gili, the director of the photography department of the Fundación “La Caixa” in Barcelona. The festival, which focused on the theme of fragility in all of its myriad facets, involved many of the city's streets and squares, including the enchanting Place du Capitole, where there is a small market on Saturday mornings, and a large number of exhibition spaces on both sides of the Garonne river. Among the most atmospheric of these were the Jacobins convention complex, the EDF-Bazacle building and the main hall in the Musée de la Médecine. The objective was to revitalize, even if only for a few weeks, a city that still carries the scars of an unforeseen tragedy. The nights were enlivened by the “Soirées Nomades” and by the “Nuits de Toulouse” during which the banks of the rivers and some of the exhibition spaces' courtyards were animated by performances - such as Lucy Orta's over-the-top, highly gymnastic act - concerts, and projections - such as the spectacular and ironic multi-projection sound piece by visual artist Pierrick Sorin, created in collaboration with the musician Pierre Bastien. The works of the numerous invited artists, from diverse generations and geographic locales, focused on the most fragile side of humanity, the individual's relationship to the collective and to their own habitat. This was revealed in a variety of media, from photography to video, film to performance and installation. The curator's intention was not at all to simply breathe life into a traditional exhibition - in which the gathering of works in designated places follows a kind of production determined merely by the exigencies of hanging - but rather to create conceptual routes. The works were thus grouped according to a few guiding concepts bound to precise terms: Invisibilités/Invisibilities, Liens/Bonds, Complicités/Understanding, Territoires Publics et Privés/Public and Private Territories, and Corps/Bodies.
In his documentary video, the young Israeli artist Keren Amiran, now resident in London, reveals just how fragile the boundaries are between desire and reality, waiting and frustration. The work recounts the story of the Israel American Medical Centre, a building in Tel Aviv destined to be a hospital for wealthy patients that was never completed. The artist invited the project's designing architect to visit the building and to reconstruct, with his imagination, a place now left entirely abandoned. In his wanderings, the architect meets bizarre characters who live in the building despite its precarious condition, openly revealing all of his nostalgia to them and at the same time his joy in the discovery that at least somebody is making use of the space.
The Belgian Hans Op de Beeck, who lives and works in Brussels, exacerbates the manifold forms of inertia that underlie habitual actions, unveiling the delicate confines between the repetitiveness of certain gestures and the passive acceptance of various types of everyday obsession. He deals with banal scenes that occur in common places: a man and a woman sitting at a table, neither one looking nor speaking to each other for a total of eight minutes, in a time lapse that, with the aid of a loop, seems infinite; the absent gaze of a child looking out of a car window; a family walking without pause toward an unspecified destination. These simple acts are transformed into metaphors for the human condition - which seems to be dominated by the difficulty of communication - and urge the observer to go beyond the formal aspect of the video narrative and to reflect upon their actual expectations, their own desires and fragility.P