The reversed exileWho are the others?
That is the question mounir fatmi asks pass- ers-by in his video The Latest In is a Stanger. It echoes that very same question asked by writer Mohammed Dib to a few French philosophers, among which Jacques Derrida, at a time when there wasn’t yet a “jungle” in Calais. You don’t notice the absence of a stranger, writes Philippe Cazal. There are no others. Because we are all the others of one another. That’s what these Nations will nev- er understand, in their satisfied slumber exhibited by Jean-Baptise Audat. The only bearable flags? The mutant ones on which appear the characters presented by ORLAN in ASILE-EXIL. Or the flag of the Refugee Nation, a modern version of the pirate flag, so that our exiles of madmen become journeys that destroy our mental and physical borders, both inside and out. With Groupe UNTEL, let’s laugh at tourists in their shirtsleeves who believe they are home any- where, though their eyes only perceive the veneer of the world. Guy Limone, creating on a thread a brochette of little migrant soldiers, or Pierre Desfons, transforming a computer mouse pad into a prayer rug facing the black sun of the complete disaster that is Isis, both also reverse the notion of exile. Each according to the lights and shadows in their own existence, and therefore in their artworks, the artists of the Exile Pavilion reinvent their own exile, with criticism, distance or delight, against the exile imposed by these powers that torture, expatriate, starve, exploit and decerebrate.
The school of Exile
In the aforementioned Jungle of Calais, precarious housing, as these tents and huts are called, but also hotels, churches and mosques, infirmaries, a theatre and schools were built on sand. Af- ghans, Sudanese, Ethiopians, Iranians, Syrians, Egyptians and other migrants from Africa and many other places toiled and danced in the wind, together with volunteers from Europe and elsewhere. Be- tween January and November 2016, photographers Anita Pouchard Serra, Laurent Malone and André Mérian were much more than wit- nesses to a desire, a joie de vivre in the here and now, and to the subsequent destruction by political stupidity of this “dream” of an international city. The picture of the torn down sign for the “Chemin des Dunes secular school” is a symbol of this carnage. It contrasts with the beauty of the story of this very school, told by Zimako and Marko in Isabelle Arvers’ machinima Heroic Makers vs. Heroic Land, created with the Moviestorm game engine from photographs and interviews. Is there a school of exile? Rather numerous schools,most of which are metaphorical... Where beautiful characters can be found, such as these “rejects” from a Tunisian camp filmed by Sophie Bachelier and Djibril Dialo... Where one learns to live on a Mezzanine, like Younes Baba-Ali between Marseilles and Tangiers. Where we can also, thanks to another sound piece by Anna Raimon- do and Younes Baba-Ali, experience an interior exile in the dark, “to lose oneself and perhaps find oneself.”
The transfiguration of exile
To what extent can the notion of exile be reinvented? Are these feet of Mexican artist Beatriz Canfield the bare extremities of hanged anonymous migrants? Or on the contrary, are they legs in zero grav- ity, transfiguring exile by ascending to the sky? Is there a more ab- solute exile than that of the astronaut in the galactic void? Interior Telescope was the first sculpture ever created in a space station. Eduardo Kac enabled French astronaut Thomas Pesquet to build it in space, with paper and scissors, following a procedure that was tested at length on Earth. Another inconceivable metaphor for exile: Fabien Zocco’s installation juxtaposes the name of a star such as Al- debaran, Proxima or Vega with the picture of a place with the same name on Google Street View. The dream of exile in other galaxies ends up in a pathetic locality on our planet. Unless it’s this mediocre territory that’s inviting us to dream of stars? What these artists are telling us about, like the migrants of Calais, is the urgency to trans- figure, to dream of exile beyond the clichés and constraints forced upon us by the powers that be."
Proposed by mounir fatmi and Ariel Kyrou