Unreal Nature

December 5, 2019

When All the Figures Began to Slip Away

Filed under: Uncategorized — unrealnature @ 6:18 am

… a face is a moveable play of reflections and angles, an essential instability that is always effacing or transforming itself.

This is from Portrait by Jean-Luc Nancy, translated by Sarah Clift and Simon Sparks (2018):

… Whether we designate the stakes of the portrait as the un-representable of the face, as the dis-or trans-figuration of the figure, or else as the indeterminate slippage of a face barely glimpsed, these diverse modes remain linked to each other by that which makes the portrait into the “absolute of the image.” The “absolute” designates that which is detached, ab-solutum, from everything.

[line break added] The image detached from everything is the image that bears no connection to a morphological referent (a model) but that offers the idea — to repeat it once more, the true “form,” the coming to presence of a line or a flash, whose cut or clarity originates from afar, “high above ordinary existence,” as Yves Bonnefoy puts it, alluding to the style of Giacometti’s portraits: “His great feverish intention to make the model exist, to ‘sustain’ it in being — and yet all the same, to sustain it above ordinary existence — gave birth to the trance.”

… As Merleau-Ponty writes in an entirely different context, “after all, a face is only shadows, lights, and colors.” This means that a face is a moveable play of reflections and angles, an essential instability that is always effacing or transforming itself.

[ … ]

… The art we call “contemporary” is not simply art from the present day. It is called “contemporary” because it inherits no form or reference: it can no longer be the art of the sacred or that of public or private glory, or that of a supposed nature or destiny of peoples. It inherits only the enigma borne by this word — art — that was invented at the moment when all the figures of a possible “representation” began to slip away.

My most recent previous post from Nancy’s book is here.

-Julie

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