22 tools

22 tools |
from 22 janvier to 22 février 2019

Galerie Michel Journiac
47 rue des Bergers
75015 Paris.
ouvert du lundi au vendredi, 13h 18h
  Just before the images of an internet search fully load, a checkerboard of colours fills the screen. From the most technological of telecommunication tools, Perrine Lacroix takes hold of the movement of an appearance, disappearance and propagation, which she artistically transposes in the space of the Michel Journiac Gallery.
The pivotal work of the exhibition, the Google search video, Tools Tasmania (2017), associates in a cross-fading, the screenshot of “Tasmanian aboriginal tools” listed on an internet page, and that of contemporary tools of the same country, contrasting with the former by their relative aggressiveness.
According to the evolutionary conception of the techniques, the tool constitutes the barometer of the advancement of a society, concurrent with the domination of nature. With their 22 tools, it did not take more to the indigenous Islanders of Tasmania, who were at once incapacitated and dispossessed of all intentionality by the colonists, to be brought back to the age of childhood and to the savagery. The name which was given to them (from aboriginal Latin, referring to the primitive inhabitants of central Italy) serves the same ideology: the first inhabitants were sent back to an original past which founds the evolution to come. Without, on the contrary, renewing the tropism of a naturalness of happiness and goodness, the contemporary reinterpretation of this history rehabilitates the human, sensitive and social dimensions, which at the time were relegated.
Enigmatically, a set of monochrome silkscreen prints displayed in the vicinity of the gallery is echoed, and challenges passers-by with the questions: “WHO ARE YOU?” and “WHERE ARE YOU?”
Perrine Lacroix opposes the proliferation of objects and images with the immateriality of white light projections. In the university gallery space, phantom works appear as the traces or the remanence of a past history. By this re-appropriation, the artist designates in concert the channels of diffusion, the transfers and projections peculiar to the construction of knowledge. The exploration carried out on the web appears in situ in the gallery, each part of the wall reminiscent of the checkboard. It refers to another, this one historical, recounted in the Voyage of Entrecasteaux. The navigator’s journal, originally transcribed by the naturalist Labilliardière, then taken up by Rossel, describes the French expedition (1791-1793) started on the traces of Lapérouse who had disappeared shortly before. With the mission of jointly conducting useful research for science and commerce, the Voyage responds to the great learned and maritime companies of the Enlightenment. Unlike some of the previous gloomy accounts, stigmatising the cruelty of the “Naturals”, the Voyage disseminates the imagination of the “good savage”, simple and happy. In particular, the engraving from the drawing of Jean Piron, Savages of Cape Diémen preparing their meal, shows a very harmonious encounter. Although the successive representations multiply the interpretations, the experience of these first contacts was no less real nor without comparison with the colonialization which, in the 19th century, almost completely decimated the Aborigines of Tasmania. In a singular return of the boomerang, the drawings of Jean Piron would have also served the ethnographic museums of Tasmania to restore the extinct Aboriginal tools.
At just the right moment, the image of this drawing which opens Perrine Lacroix’s exhibition, underwent an unintentional distortion during its reproduction, which altered its legibility. The photograph of the engraving taken by the artist at the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery in Hobart, when transferred to her computer, was compressed on the left side, giving it a tapestry appearance, while horizontal lines striate the right side in an abstract landscape. In the next room, the screen prints placed on the ground, seem to have detached from the wall to stand out from the white prints. Evanescent, they contribute to the backward and forward movement in which Perrine Lacroix sails, from one medium to another, from one time to another, from one perception to another. Her approach, which feeds on prior investigations, is less an archive than an artistic handling of history and its transmission in a scrambling of time-related sequences.
Would Perrine Lacroix endorse Hans Jonas’ assertion: “it is even more important to understand that each present of man is its own end, and so was it also in any past”?
Eloïse Guénard