Part of the Lieu de Mémoire, project by Marie-Ange Guilleminot, Magny-les-Hameaux
With the children of the CM2 class of the elementary school André Gide, the school teacher and director Michelle Tiritan and the visual arts consultant Patrick François.
The Lieu de mémoire proposed by Marie-Ange Guilleminot is dedicated to the victims of 20th century conflicts. Every year an artist is invited to produce a book in memory of the victims, whether fallen on the battlefield, or deported, or civil victims, of the First and Second World Wars and the War of Algeria. Other artists who have participated or are participating : Marie-Ange Guilleminot, Céline Ahond, Pierre Leguillon, Gilles Balmet …
My proposition is about the notion of living memory (as opposed to dead memory), memory to be renewed. With Michelle Tiritan, and accompanied by Patrick François, we organised several workshop sessions on history and archive documents, the notion of the book, the erasing of writing, working with Chinese ink, using black and white as a metaphor for shadow and light, oblivion and remembrance. During the lessons parellel to the workshop, these themes were continued and completed in different forms. Other particularly memorable moments were the projection of Chaplin’s The Dictator, an encounter with the War Veterans, a visit to Paris (including taking part in the flame ceremony at the Arc de Triomphe) and the ceremony of the 8th of May when the book was solemnly handed over to the town.
The Infinite Book N° 4 is in three volumes :
The first volume, covered in white felt, has folded zigzag pages showing a rather abstract and « expressionist » passage from black to white where the name of the dead is written by one of the children. The victim’s destiny, imposed upon him or her, is marqued with an administrative rubber stamp: « died for France », « died in deportation » and « civil victim ».
The second volume, which looks the same as the first, plays with paradox: its cover, for which metal plates instead of cardboard have been used, is very heavy, but the content, very thin Japanese paper, very light. On its pages, at intervals, is marked, in the writing of one of the children, the sentence « I remember ». When turning the pages, these sentences appear slowly, as if through mist or fog.
The third volume is in fact a box, of the same dimensions and with the same cover as the two books. It contains the rubber stamps (and initially also contained the medals offered to the children by the War Veterans).
The very lively blog by Michelle Tiritan, giving more information about the workshop, the meeting with the Veterans, on the 8th of May 2008, or the visit to Paris, is unfortunately not online anymore. A part of this work’s memory is lost...