Guittard Alice

Transvestite fables

“It’s not the way you said what you said, it’s the look you had while you were saying it…” Alice Guittard’s sentences sometimes sound like a line from Jean-Pierre Léaud, sometimes like a prerogative straight out of a physics textbook: “It is necessary to disregard the center by focusing on everything else. “It is between these two extremes that the artist produces a kind of “pataphysical literature”, combining the exploration of language with that of hostile landscapes, preferring imaginary solutions to tangible results, and his crossroads to the roads he has laid out.

It is with Tom Bulbex (a fictional character imagined from a slip of the tongue that she makes while still a student at the Villa Arson, confusing him with the guest artist, Alain Bublex) that she sets out in search of the “nodal point” – “the country where the vocal cords of dogs are cut to avoid avalanches”, a totally silent zone at the crossroads of three mountains. In the course of the symbolically authentic non-Euclidian Transalpine Quest edition, produced in 2012, she accumulates the elements of the survey that are supposed to prove the existence of the place: geographical coordinates and mathematical data, analogies of mountain shapes, scientific instruments for measuring the es- pace-time, maps. The reading of this initiatory narrative, nestled between Thomas Mann’s The Magic Mountain and René Daumal’s unfinished novel The Analogous Mount, is entrusted to a man who stutters…

Sounding out the editorial space and the limits of language, she edits a trilogy based on the protocol of a chain reaction of translations. Each element of composition of the original book of a Romanian poet who committed suicide (she tells us) – title, author, logo, prize, ISBN, etc. – is knowingly replicated and affixed with its synonym. By subjecting the entire text to the same process, she makes the words slide and capsizes the meaning. So much so that one ends up pouring into texts with stumbling sono- rities, diffracted syntaxes on the page, and increasingly pleasing poetic inventions. Alice Guittard literally likes not to know where she sets foot. This is surely why she goes to Iceland, a land that seems very foreign to her; it is also why she films herself from afar climbing the volcano of Anarnarstapi – the same volcano described by Jules Verne – or crossing a icy lake – renouncing at the last minute to plant on the island opposite her flower brought back from Nice. All these derisory quests lead us to consider his warnings at the beginning of the work sparingly: “despite certain appearances, it is necessary to treat this work with gravity”. To the expected exploit of the performance, it responds to the fragility of its drifts. When she makes the tour of Iceland, it is by hitch-hiking with a sign “it doesn’t matter”.

Mathilde Villeneuve

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