Simulacrum, or the power of imaginary.

 

Plural simulacra from Latin: simulacrum, which means “likeness, similarity”.

The word was first coined during the late 16th century in the English language. A simulacrum is a representation or imitation of a person or a thing. It defines an appearance that doesn’t refer to any underlying reality. This is the sense of the Greek word eidolon, which gave idol in Latin and is translated by simulacrum. In opposition, the term icon is translated by copy; The copy always sends back to the imitation of reality, without concealing it. Eidolon opposes to Eidos or idea, translated by form or shape.

In his books Le Platonisme (P.U.F., 1985), Vincent Descombes explains:

“Nor copy, nor model, simulacra is the refutation to distinguish the original from its imitation.”

 

Painting, Art, History of Art, Fable

 

And a bit before Descombes, in La Logique du Sens (Éditions de Minuit, 1969), Gilles Deleuze affirms: “There’s in the simulacra a “go-mad”, a borderless becoming, a subversive becoming, skilled in avoiding the equal, the limit, the Similar.”

Simulacrum are effects of our imaginary that sees what doesn’t exist and makes us believe it totally does. If we can’t deny the existence of reality, we can’t deny neither the power of our imaginary in reinterpreting and transforming this so-called reality.

Imitation, falsification and, illusion… Here are the ideas floating around the notions of simulacrum. As said before, the border between what’s real and what our imaginary lets us believe is truly blurred.

“Nobody can know if the world is fantasy or reality, and neither if there’s a difference between dreaming and living.” Jorge Luis Borges

 

This is what I believe. Everything is made of “Simulacres”. The way we exist, how we present ourselves, how we meet the Others, encounters, work, love… All are masks we create, facing other masks, infinitely dizzying…

Rationality can be a terrible trap, but without it we would fall deep down into the pit of anxiety and despair, incomprehension.

Still, I want to see the world always more and more revealed, diving into imaginary and deconstructed our Simulacres, as far as I adore them…

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The various mutations of the term grotesque

 

From the Italian term “grottesca”, which means cave fresco, definition and use of the term grotesque will mute through centuries. In 1532, it defines a “capricious ornaments”, and during the XVIe century it designates a caricatured or fantastic figure. Until those times, the expression is mainly used in the field of painting.

During the year 1636, in his book L’Illusion Comique, the French writer Corneille updates the signification of the word linking it to an idea of comical; “(…) causing laughing by its extravagance”. During the XVIIIe century, the Dictionary of French Academy defines it again under its pictorial aspect, explaining that a grotesque representation has one natural part and the other one chimerical.

The meaning continues to evolve through the decades and starts to figuratively nominate something or someone ridiculous, bizarre or extravagant. Nowadays, the dominant idea around grotesque is the one of extravagance; someone or something that lends to laugh by its incredible and eccentric characteristic, and also its bad taste.

There is embarrassment around the notion of grotesque facing the common desire to define it precisely without succeeding to do so.

It is by essence a hybrid word, its strength is to be constantly renewed, evolving and changing.

 

Hybridization disturbs, because it is creating something new, and very often changes and novelties are chocking.

 

Fashion, Collection, Fashion Show, Presentation

 

This is exactly what Hussein Chalayan did with the famous and so-called burqa collection. It’s a political statement about women’s rights and equality. Conceptually speaking, it is about breaking rules and conductively embracing cultural chaos, it that case we are talking about a very precise cultural background in some countries of the world.

 

 

We can put in comparison this statement about equality with the main characteristic of the carnival phenomenon. During this festivity everybody is put in the same level and everything is basically possible. Mikhaïl Bakhtine defines the term carnavalesque as a temporary inversion of hierarchies and values. He develops the idea of carnival as a strong expression of popular culture in its subversive dimension.

Here, Hussein Chalayan is unveiling the body of women to show orifices. He is revealing the social body, in which the natural should be eliminated, putting in evidence orifices, which are the opening self to the world, the connection between the internal and the external environment. The designer is hiding the face and showing the down part of the body; we recognize characteristics proper to the grotesque, the one of every possibility, inversions, and up side down.

Painting, Carnaval,

 

The grotesque is disturbing, because it’s cultivating contradictions and paradoxes.

 

In that sense it is able to break down the prejudiced and move walls of preconceived. It is interesting to have a different look on this collection considering this way of reaching a form a freedom of the body.

The Italian artist Francesco Albano also worked on the concept of grotesque with his sculpture of melting body. On this piece of work, the first thing we see is the orifice, our natural and animal part. We can interpret this shape as an animal in cage trying to escape, and as a metaphor of someone willing to break out from ones social body.

 

Art, Sculpture, Installation

 

This white and blank space made of neutrality reminds a dream, a fantasy in which everything is possible and where you can build your own world. A world that allows to invent a new reality made of paradoxes and hybridizations. A grotesque universe defined by Bakhtine as the unfinished metamorphose of death and birth, growth and becoming, always on the border between reality and imaginary.

Grotesque is forcing Art to integrate its own contradictions. It’s an anti-aesthetic.

Short essay on the extraordinary Azzedine Alaïa

 

Azzedine Alaïa had a particular path full of wonderful meetings and particular experiences that gave him an extraordinary sensibility to the world. His story is full of persons and details that influenced him a lot. From his maternal grand parents, and Madame Pineau in Tunis, to the Comtesse de Blégiers and Madame Simone Zehrfuss in Paris who introduced him to the best artists of those times. Azzedine Alaïa gets in touch with a flow of different characters that affect his life and work forever.

After a few years in Paris, he built an incredible social network in which personalities and artists of all kinds meet and interfere.

Azzedine Alaïa is a singular art and life lover.

 

He has a great culture of literature and History of Arts, which he doesn’t like bringing to light with a respectable unpretentiousness. He owns amazing collections of books, haute couture garments and art pieces.

From the year 1987, he decides to go against the dictates of the regular fashion calendar. Anyway, his work is not about a collection or a season, neither about create a story, because according to him “everything is in the materials”. Azzedine Alaïa loves breaking the established codes, taking inspirations from every little thing that surrounds him or catches his attention and reflection.

His work is at the same time modern and timeless, personal and neutral, as if each garment he creates was a masterpiece.

 

He plays with time in a very original way, inventing new configurations. It’s about a long-term history on both intercultural and multidisciplinary sides.

Art, Creative director, fashion

Azzedine Alaïa is a “passeur”, according to the definition that gives Jerzy Kosinsky; somebody who creates bridges, who understands and explains how crossbreeding happen and identify its mechanism. Alaïa goes through every cultures, periods and genres, for him borders don’t exist and everything is about crossing and mixing.

He drew the most entire and complete vision, the most complex and global definition of the contemporary culture.

 

Perfumes, or poetry of the intangible

What’s more intangible than the poetry perfumes release ?

Perfumes, because they are linked with our sense of smell, the most uncontrollable and mysterious of all our senses, can be the source of intense emotions and extraordinary experiences. From the borders of sin to the frontier of the scared, perfumes stir up our desires and our passions, drawing us into unexplored regions of our emotions and the lost paradise of our memory.

The magic of perfume is that we think we possess them, but they constantly bring us new delight. We think we know them well, but they remain elusive. They are part of us and yet they escape us. They speak to us but we are unable to transcribe their imperceptible harmonies. Perfumes tell of childhood, distant lands, of ecstasy and of the secret rhythms of the world. Perfumes enable us to hear the deafening silence of love.

The Art of perfume is above all, a pleasure. Because odours possess that very rare power of capturing the precise essence of happiness, so difficult to define or formulate. The same is true for love…

An attraction to perfume is never neutral but rather expresses our deepest aspirations. To choose a perfume is to talk about oneself in veiled terms, but it is also to reveal one’s true character. Indeed, perfume is a garment which can develop us, but which sometimes, without knowing it, unmasks us.

They are encapsulated myths, that Emmanuel Ungaro beautifully definded as “at the same time masculine and feminine, fragile and tyrannical, steeped in contradictions.”

Perfume is synonymous of passion and patience…

Coco Chanel used to say that one should wear perfume when she or he’d like to be kissed.

Illustration, Flower, Drawing

“She left a short while ago

And yet remains near me

With her perfume still

Alive, still warm

From her body, so intoxicating”

Fourteenth-century Chinese poem