“Voyage sur les mains”

“Voyage sur les mains”, 2011. 20 x 13.5 cm, 64 pages. Co-edition Zédélé éditions, Brest and La Criée center for contemporary art, Rennes. © ADAGP Paris – 2021

A Book by Nikolas Fouré.

In every primitive society, we must be able to find a story or a protocol relating to the appropriation of a new territory.

The image that often comes up is that of a stake planted in the ground, in a place mysteriously designated by the one who acts as a sage.

Around this anchoring, the company will be able to develop in all its dimensions. These rituals aim to ensure chrono-topological stability and to conceive the world around a center: the Axis Mundi. From an anthropological point of view, the physical apprehension of the territory is inseparable from its symbolic apprehension.

Nikolas Fouré is not a member of a primitive society, but nevertheless his actions have something to do with these founding rites because through a defined and renewed action, he situates himself, puts himself in relation with the place.

If the function of the founding rites is to offer the group anchorage and stability, with the artist, on the contrary, the gesture tends towards vertigo.

The world vacillates, identifying landmarks and objects is difficult. A Moldovan legend has it that “when a man beats a stake in the earth and touches the head of a devil as he once fell, it harms him because he can go mad; but those who fall with their head down and their feet above are harmless “(Pamfile 1913).

The expression “harmless devil” could be a good way to describe the irreverence of the artist taking possession of the premises.

By refusing to rationalize his place in the world in order to poetize it, the artist challenges a form of authority, embodied by an order of things with which he cunning. It is not an isolated gesture in the practice of Nikolas Fouré.

Each morning, while drinking his coffee, he patiently fills a page with tiny scribbles in a blue ballpoint pen, which he then assembles into large sets.

If travel on the hands is linked to the spatialization of the body, it is more a question here of periodicity. But once again, the rigor of the ritual paradoxically denotes a desire to keep active a relationship to elements with more fluid contours.

In an impetus that one would easily qualify as geopoetic, Nikolas Fouré thus photographs himself balanced on one hand, the other holding the camera. A sort of “restricted shooting” – in reference to Matthew Barney’s “drawing restraint” – where the plastic finality is subject to the limits imposed on the body.

But the comparison stops there because the spirit of the gesture, outlet, is here more of the wheel that a child would make when arriving on a beach than of a heritage of the tradition of body-art.

The figure thus constitutes the common denominator that we find from one photo to another, a tautology deployed as much to see as to be seen. The word figure plays here with its double meaning, both sporty, like a triple-axel, and the gestaltic meaning of a figure dissociating itself from a background.

It is a generic constraint accidentally revealing certain contextual elements via architectural, climatological or clothing clues.
The very nature of the images is cloudy from this point of view, because if the reiteration of the figure seems to insist on the variability of the surroundings, the artist’s navel remains nonetheless in the center each time. But what makes this boastfulness endearing is the joy with which the artist watches the sky vanish under his feet.

Gaël Grivet.

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