Thomas Hirschhorn: 21 Ans Deleuze Monument
"When Jefel Goudjil, Head ofAvignon town-hall’s Saint-Chamand annex, called me in the spring of 2019 to suggest celebrating the 20th anniversary of the ‘Deleuze Monument’ in Avignon, I was delighted. Delighted because 20 years ago Jefel Goudjil was the social worker in charge of Avignon’s Champfleury neighborhood who helped me and the kids he was working with erect and show the ‘Deleuze Monument’. He was also the one who made the ‘L'Abécédaire de Jefel’ (Jefel’s ABC), a remarkable video riffing on Gilles Deleuze’s ‘Abécédaire’, which I used in the ‘Deleuze Monument’. So the fact that Jefel remembered the ‘Deleuze Monument’ and then thought it warranted celebrating its 20th anniversary was in itself something both deep and essential, something –for me as an artist– magic.
I have always believed that –as any other work I have done in local communities (70 works and counting)– the ‘Deleuze Monument’ has an eternal, non-limited ‘shelflife’, over and above its ephemeral or precariousness nature, precisely because –having a ‘shelflife’– it is ‘for life’. I believe that these works can blow away –whether object or material– the very notion of durability. For me, in all of my community projects, the aim is to assert, support and work to ensure that the material aspects be exceeded by the intensity, experience and moments of grace that typify my vision of precariousness art in the public arena. This is what makes celebrating the 20th anniversary of the ‘Deleuze Monument’ a meaningful breakthrough and corresponds fully to this assertion.
Jefel’s invitation was all the more important for me in that the ‘Deleuze Monument’ was a failure, or at least a partial failure, given that art, especially art in the public space, is never either a total failure nor a total success. What failed in 2000 was that we had to take it down long before the precariousness date originally planned. I explained this in the catalogue self-published at the time: ‘Deleuze Monument –Thomas Hirschhorn– La Beauté Avignon 2000’. The failure was very important to me, and taught me a lot and thanks to this experience I decided that were I to work with local community residents again, I would need to be there all the time myself and do my work alongside them. As a result of Avignon, I invented my ‘Presence & Production’ guideline which I have applied ever since. To date, I have completed 10 projects using this principle, including ‘Bataille-Monument’, 2002; ‘Musée Précaire-Albinet’, 2004; ‘Swiss-Swiss Democracy’, 2004; ‘The Bijlmer Spinoza-Festival’, 2009; ‘Gramsci Monument’, 2013; ‘Flamme éternelle’, 2014; and ‘Robert Walser-Sculpture’, 2019. And this is why the invitation means so much to me, letting me revisit these experiences and their consequences.
My ‘course of action’ for the commemorative exhibition is designed through the prism of public space artwork. In real terms, I want to create a ‘commemorative’ exhibition in the Saint-Chamand associations’ cultural center which Jefel has given me. I want to use the associations’ premises (which will remain open during the exhibition) two expand upon 8 issues: 1) Art; 2) Public Space; 3) Success and Failure; 4) Presence and Production; 5) Experience; 6) Co-existence; 7) Spot; 8) Precariousness. There will be documents, videos, testimonies, books, references from the past and to other projects. The ‘Deleuze Monument’ 20 years on will be more than a commemoration, because I want to show through my local community projects how much the experiencing of art can have an impact, change lives, and endure –not just for me, the artist, but for everybody."
– Thomas Hirschhorn, Aubervilliers, 2020
The project 21 ans ‘Deleuze Monument’ at the Espace culturel associatif de la Mairie de Saint-Chamand, Avignon, was nominated in 2020 and supported by the sponsorship commission of the Fondation des Artistes.