In Spain, there is a word for talking about a roll of fat but it is not an indigenous Spanish word. Let’s say that the show (the visit to the show, that is) begins like that (its start), on an exotic word, with an idea of a roll of fat. Moreover, if the word is exotic to us, it isn’t to them of course. And when the word is exotic to them, it’s not to us—so in Spain, “roll of fat,” “spare tire,” is indicated by a word of French origin, michelin (pronounced with a Spanish accent), because of or thanks to the famous Michelin Bibendum, the emblematic figure of the famous tire brand, propelled to a listing on the stock exchange via the fortune that was born of the realization that riding on air is good, that is, profitable.
For a long time I thought the Japanese were humorless, a preconceived idea that was invalidated by viewing an animated manga called GTO (Great Teacher Onizuka), the hero of which is a young yakuza with a plastic face who is dead set on getting himself hired as a teacher in order to gain access to high school girls’ panties. Futomomo is, for us, an amusing title to hear but that wouldn’t be enough to spur us to go and see a show or write a text on a show that we had seen, especially out in the burbs, Brétigny-sur-Orge being much more exotic than Futomomo when coming from Paris (but given that I live in Digne-les-Bains, as far as I’m concerned, the problem really never comes up, at least not in those terms).
Let’s suppose that in Japan Futomomo is a technical term, the idea being that before us the Japanese had taken a technical approach to sexuality, extreme attention grounded in the way you tie a complicated knot rather than in concentrating on the moment of the act, such that a door slamming shut and even a temblor doesn’t bother you, well then Futomomo-the show shakes all that up a skosh in its still materials (an admirable spider, men pretty far gone in the webs, wall coverings, whether hanging or laid out, a single crotch, canned odors of shellfish or fish, a mattress from a squat, scarves from the second-hand shops, a clown by the edge of a bar table), and filmed ones (a dance, not on furnishings, but about furniture). In other words, in the end all that is neither technique nor truly sensual.
Would an art, both technique and sensual (the art of Bibendum), be enough to steer the public with as much automatism as the masterpieces of the Collection Frouchtine at the Fondation Mormon? I can’t answer that question—so I don’t wonder about it. Some will protest, Com’on, it’s technique! And it’s sensual! Technique and Sensual are starters on demand; Artisanal is, on demand, reassuring and justified (we’ll never be done with it, and rightly so, done with justifying art when it’s our contemporary). However, what remains in the end is that that’s a bother.
The spider, like any self-respecting spider, is bit scary; the distant men are strange; the wall coverings are embarrassing; the crotch is terrible; mattress and scarves are bizarre; and those men are dancing the long-restrained destruction of the furniture, of their owners, of the house of those owners, and of the country all around them: they are dancing the end of the United States.
Let’s euphemize now the embarrassment, beginning with words. It’s novel, it’s curious, it’s surprising, I’m talking about our relationship, novel, surprising and curious, sensual and technical, with objects, our objects. As is well known, objects always end up turning against us , which means that it is we who had turned against them first. They are no longer important, they’re thrown out as soon as they’re purchased, they are designed to be disposable or deceptively repairable. I’ve just spent two hours entangling cables going back ten or twenty years, half of which no longer matched from memory any device. We can always try to elect a few to work their charm (art objects, for instance), they’ll send us back their embarrassment.
Nathalie Quintane (2019)
Invitation made on the occasion of the exhibition Futomomo (cur. Franck Balland)