Dear Shaded Viewers,
Last night, February 11th and tonight, February 12th, 2022, Flávio Juán Núñez and Laurent Tijou presented a performance titled “Passing”. The performance is a key element to their current exhibition at 35-37 “Past Bones, Present Flesh, Future Omen”.
As you entered the performance space you could hear an electronic voice on audio reciting “Enter” on a loop. As the performance continued that same voice repeated texts that appear in the Past Bones, Present Flesh, Future Omen exhibition:
“Knowledge we’ve transmitted
Apprenticeships we’ve inherited
Crafts we’ve mastered
Innovations we’ve discovered
Languages we’ve learned
The performance consisted of Núñez, dressed in a white fabric wrapped around his waist adorned with a compilation of jewellery, designed and crafted by Laurent Tijou. Núñez proceeded to walk between the platforms. As the artist walked on his journey on this pre-conceived road, the viewers were transported into another dimension somewhere deep inside themselves. The effect the performance had on the viewers was obvious by the expressions on their faces. Clearly they were reflecting on what they were seeing on stage. In the beginning we watched as Nuñez broke out of a kind of cocoon, symbolically this was a construction created by a mold of tape cast around the artist’s feet. He rather violently releases himself from the bondage as the act begins. With his powerful body, Núñez starts smashing fabric bags, dust and rocks. You can’t help but think about the Sisyphus course we all face in life. The next step the artist pours water over himself and then covers his body with clay. After he is redefined in clay he then rolls in white dust and finally he arrives at the extreme end of the platform wearing a huge head piece that references the elements of sculptures in his present exhibition at 35-37. The final image is intensely beautiful, the viewers are charged with emotion as they saunter out of the space knowing that they have witnessed an act of Passing.
A little flashback to the exhibition: Flávio Juán Núñez started out as a professional taxidermist, “I learned to sculpt animals and give them back their life”, That’s what he explained to Diane Pernet herself, as he gave her a tour around the exhibition. Perhaps that is where he acquired his sense of sculpture and his ongoing reflection about life and death, and how both can sublimate the other in many forms. Death and rebirth seem to be the axis of his work.
“It’s a story about elevation. The new sublime, the new divine”. Explained Núñez to Diane Pernet as he showed her a small cast sculpture where he had added an element of metal or “jewellery” in his own definition, the exact same shape is what we saw him wear at the end of the performance of “Passing”. What we witnessed was a human elevated to something even greater than himself. Is it through death that we reach this elevation? Or is death just part of the journey to endless elevation? And what is this elevation to? Is it to beauty?