«RE» (2006)

The name of my project is “RE”. “RE” stands for re-visiting, re-winding, re-building or re-construction and re-flection. With this title it is clear that it’s not something new – it is something “RE”. The project “Re” is re-visiting the experience “Musée Précaire Albinet”. I want to do a visual manifest about this work in public space, about the questions which aroused, about the questions that the work confronted, about the questions I asked myself. “RE” is a project in order to understand myself and to give form to the problematic, to the complexity provoked by the experience “Musée Précaire Albinet”. “RE” is not a documentation and “RE” is not a piece of art. “RE” is a work that wants to contribute, to enlighten and wants to give answers and create new questions on 4 topics. All of these 4 topics are closely related to the “Musée Précaire Albinet” and its’ experience. They are “Utopia”, “The Other”, “Precariousness” and “Autonomy of Art”. With these 4 thematics outcomes from the “Musée Précaire Albinet” I want to make “RE” display as a non-resignated and a non-reconciled artistic statement.


To me making Art is not utopian, it is not dreaming or escaping Reality. I am against terms like “Micro-Utopia”. I am sceptical about many theories of Utopia. I think that these theories today are often excluding others, they are exclusive and luxurious. Utopia is not an impossible mission and Utopia is too serious to be left for architects or designers. I want to think and to act “Utopia” in the same time, in the same space. Utopia has to be confronted, to be problematized directly with Reality. Utopia is not cool, Reality is not cool. Utopia is not correct, Reality is not correct. Utopia is not fashionable, Reality is not fashionable. Utopia is not glamorous, Reality is not glamorous. The “Musée Précaire Albinet” was a try to struggle immediately with Utopia and Reality. It was a try to glue together Utopia and Reality. I want to make those terms inseparable. I want to make them one. I want to take away the distance or the difference between Utopia and Reality in the same movement, in the same action. There is no practice on one side and theory on the other side. The “Musée Précaire Albinet” was based on this thinking and I did try to act within it. The “Musée Précaire Albinet” was my attempt for a concrete and contemporary statement about Utopia and Reality as a combination of the time I am living in.


The Other is my next, my neighbour. The Other is what is strange to me, what I cannot understand, what I am afraid of. The Other is the absolute neighborhood. “The Other” in the “Musée Précaire Albinet”-experience meant the absolute will to include, to not exclude and to work for – what I call – a ‘non-exclusive’ audience. I think that Art – because it is Art – can create the conditions for confrontation or dialogue directly, from one to one. Art has – because it is Art – a political meaning in this sense. Art escapes the control, the control of myself – the artist – and in doing this, Art has the capacity to reach the other. This is the miracle of Art. “The Other” is my audience and “The Other” is the assertion of this possible audience. I learnt, and it was one of the most important experiences for me at the “Musée Précaire Albinet” that “The Other” in a project such as the “Musée Précaire Albinet” is what I have to agree with. I have to agree with the other because I chose him and his neighborhood. Because I made my artwork with him and in his place. But to agree does not mean to approve of everything. To agree means going beyond theories and beyond the facts. Agreeing means acting by taking responsibility about everything. Agreeing also means to be responsible for what I cannot be responsible for. Art is the tool to take over this responsibility. Agreeing with the other means “working politically”, with confidence in the tool “Art” – which in itself posesses strength. “Working politically” means working without cynicism, without negativity and without self-satisfying criticism.


I called the “Musée Précaire Albinet” precarious because the duration of its physical experience was limited in time. To me precariousness is only “physical”. Precariousness is only the working-out, the visual, the form. There is nothing precarious in the idea, the experience, the consequences, the confrontation, the enrichment. This is why I make the distinction between precariousness and ephemeral. Ephemeral is what comes from nature, precariousness is the human. Precariousness is nothing negative. Precariousness is the photography of an endless movement, precariousness is not the end and not the beginning. It is an instant, it is the moment. It is the unique moment. In order to reach this moment I have to be present and I have to be awake. I have to stand up, I have to face and I have to risk myself. This is the beauty in precariousness. This is why the “Musée Précaire Albinet” had to be reconstructed every day, every hour, every moment in my own brain and in the brain of the inhabitants. The endless re-building and constant re-construction of this work – I am sure – gives it its power to touch the eternity. Nothing is more boring than something definite, something sure, something safe because it just isn’t the truth. The truth can only be touched – in Art – with hazardous, headlessness, contradictory and hidden encounters. I want to re-establish the word ‘precarious’. Precariousness can be a tool to work out contemporary problematic involving economic, social, religious, political and cultural issues.


The term of “Autonomy” is at first a positive term to me, but I also know that the term “Autonomy in Art/ the Autonomy of esthetics” can also be interpreted in a negative way. I do not understand nor do I accept it. It is an reduced interpretation of the term “Autonomy” and – I think – it is a politician, academic, polemic or only critic understanding. I am not interested in this negative meaning. The term “Autonomy” is – for me – not the interpretation of self-sufficiency because self-sufficiency is partial and dogmatic. The “Autonomy” which interests me is the autonomy of courage, the autonomy of assertion, the autonomy to authorize myself, the autonomy to do something on my own – without argumentation, without explanation, without communication and without justification. I authorize myself to believe in the autonomy of Art. I believe in Art. And I believe in the autonomy of Art. I have faith in Art ! So the autonomy of art does not come from self-sufficiency but from authorization, self-authorization. This is why autonomy is never passive, autonomy is active, it’s the activity of hope. The principle of hope in taking action. With the experience “Musée Précaire Albinet” I got confirmation that only the absolute assertion of “Autonomy of Art” beyond reason and beyond discourse can have an impact and can go beyond social work, social-cultural work or cultural work.

I want “RE” to display a try, an attempt to make an artistic assertion as answer – and at the same time as question to myself facing Irak War, Guantanamo Bay, September 11, Abbu Ghraib, Asylum Camp and Nuclear Bomb Threat. “RE” wants to express this, without fear of problematic, contradiction or proximity – but with an artistic position, with an artistic work and with artistic form.

Thomas Hirschhorn, Aubervilliers, May 4th, 2006