Langue des oiseaux et coq à l’âne

Group exhibition around the work of Raymond Hains. Frac Bretagne, Rennes.
24th May to 7th September 2014.
Curator : Marion Daniel.
Erica Baum, Julien Bismuth, Éric Duyckaerts, François Dufrêne, George Dupin, Jean Dupuy, Raymond Hains, Anabelle Hulaut / David Michael Clarke, Harald Klingelhöller, Éric Maillet, Christian Marclay, Anne Marie Rognon, Yann Sérandour, Anne de Sterk, Catherine Sullivan, Jacques Villeglé, Gil J. Wolman.
David Michael Clarke – Real-life Girlfriend (it’s no game]. C-type photograph. 75cm x 110cm. Pas de Jeu, France. 2003.
Anabelle Hulaut – Jeu de pas, Bons Baisers On the Road. C-type photograph. 75cm x 110cm. Pas de Jeu, France. 2003.
«There is something crazy that happens with language. Something not quite right. There are circumstantial effects that are extremely bizarre. That’s why I became a structuralist moustachist, dialectician of «lapalissades». I try to put all that in order.» – Raymond Hains

From bulldog to butterfly, «Langue des oiseaux et coq à l’âne» is entirely conceived through associative logic, as it is constructed around the work of Raymond Hains (1926, Saint-Brieuc – 2005, Paris), a major figure in the Frac Bretagne collection.

In the early XXth century, Raymond Roussel and Alfred Jarry re-ignited interest in «birdspeak», a fictional and cryptic language which consists of combining different types of word play in order to invent new literary compositions capable of transmitting coded messages. Following in their footsteps, Raymond Hains, a grand amateur of hermetic litterature and wordplay, transformed this language into true poetry. As a hommage, the Frac Bretagne presents a monographic exhibition of his work in the main gallery. Gains, an admirer of Pasolini in Uccellacci e Uccellini (Birds, great and small), became interested in these other languages, systems of logic and parallel thoughts : through approximative homonyms, he created new genealogies and theories, that took him from «palissades» to «lapalissades», he followed a sculptor from Lyon called Lemot and he made the link from «la langue des oiseaux» to the ski manufacturing company «Rossignol». Raymond Hains refused cartesian logic, preferring absurd reason, playing leap-frog from one word or concept to another.

The remaining galleries are dedicated to other artists who invest their energies in field of language, its inadequacies, its incomprehensions, its humour. Many themes that run through the work of Raymond Hains can also be found in this part of the exhibition: cryptic languages, generative logic – Jean Dupuy, Éric Maillet, Christian Marclay, Gil J. Wolman; the phenomena of hazard and of encounters – Anabelle Hulaut / David Michael Clarke, George Dupin; language as a reservoir of signs – Erica Baum, Julien Bismuth, Harald Klingelhöller, Jacques Villeglé ; body language – Catherine Sullivan ; lost words, stuttering, other linguistic anomalies – Anne de Sterk, François Dufrêne, Christian Marclay ; language hoisted by its own petard – Éric Duyckaerts, Anne Marie Rognon.

Anabelle Hulaut and David Michael Clarke live together. Each one has their own artistic practice, but sometimes they share their know-how, their tools etc. For example, one artist might serve as the cameraman in the work of the other. «Kisses on the road, (game of steps)» and «Real-life girlfriend (it’s no game)» are the fruit of this dual rapport. This time, so story goes, the two artists remarked upon the same image on a film that they had shared, each one thinking that they were the author. Unable to remember what really happened on the day the photo was shot, they decided to print two examples of the image. Each artists would entitle the image in their own way and inscribe it into their own practice. Playing with the duality and duplicity of the image as a couple, Anabelle Hulaut and David Michael Clarke find themselves on complimentary terrain, that of the viewpoint, and whisks the visitor into a fictional world.