About my work “Substitution 2 (The Unforgettable)” – (2007)

With “Substitution 2 (The Unforgettable)” I want to express my desire, my passion, my love of equality and I want to give form to this. “Substitution 2 (The Unforgettable)” is meant as a platform, a surface or a field. This field or surface is the surface that enables access or contact with my work. It is on this surface that impact or friction can take place and that the other can be implicated. This surface – my work – must be a locus for dialogue. Art has the power and capacity, because it is art, to create the conditions for dialogue or confrontation, directly, one-to-one, without communication, without mediation, without smoothing things out. I want to make my art with the will to create a breakthrough. As an artist, I always must ask myself: does my work possess the dynamic for an encounter with the other? Does my work resist the tendency toward the hermetic? My work must create an opening: it can be a door, a window or even a hole, but a hole beaten into today’s reality.

“Substitution 2 (The Unforgettable)” is a three-dimensional collage, made with the aesthetics of the “Flat Daddy”. The term “Flat Daddy” refers to a popular cardboard substitution of the soldiers away from home, replacing a “daddy” by his image. The cardboard substitution figure is a popular form – also used to honor film stars, politicians, soccer players – which assumes its powerlessness and expresses a ‘one to one’ desire, the desire of being on the same scale, the desire of non-hierarchy. It’s the desire of the ‘reality’. Advertisements of “Flat Daddies” even say: «Turn any good-quality picture into a full-sized cardboard cut-out that looks just like the real thing !» “The ‘real’ thing”! “Flat Daddies” are a perfect illustration of the chaos of the world – and its ‘reality’ – we are living in: on one hand apocalyptic chaos and methodical destruction, and on the other hand cardboard-figures that provide comfort. We are all substitutes: The substitute of an innocent civilian, the substitute of the dead, of the victim or even of the terrorist. I am substituting someone, I am serving as a substitute to someone, and furthermore I am substitute of myself and must take responsibility of any substitution and of self-substitution. I am the “Flat Daddy”!

The texts and numbers included in “Substitution 2 (The Unforgettable)” are also substitutes, substitution-texts or substitution-numbers. These texts are excerpts of news magazines from which I cut away all information about geographical locations, historical or specific facts, names of public figures or politicians. The substitution-texts, in their emptiness and their own new meaning, change and reach beyond the limit of information. They could stand in place of other texts, in a blind-text function without being “blind texts” as such. They create a kind of cruel poetry.

“Substitution 2 (The Unforgettable)” wants to fight today’s protective tendency to avoid touching what is non-positive. Today, we have to cope with the schizophrenic capacity of being informed and knowing the facts, and at the same time not wanting to see the reality of facts and look at the real information : blood, flesh and tears. Art production is not only glamorous and fashionable – not only! I want to work and struggle with what is non-positive within the complex collage of what constitutes the world I am living in – today. The pictures of human beings, of dead people, of destroyed bodies are a testimony of this non-positive. Each wound is my wound, each war is my war, each violence is my violence, each injustice is my injustice, each sorrow is my sorrow, each death is my death. I want to touch what can’t be touched.

The reason for the title “Substitution 2 (The Unforgettable)” is that “Substitution 2” is made of two independent works: (The Unforgettable) and (Moment of Truth).

Thomas Hirschhorn