Signs and Wonders. Theory of Modern Art/Theory of Damned Art

Signs and Wonders. Theory of Modern Art/Theory of Damned Art. Lecture-performance. Photo: Dario Punales

January 18, 2013, 7 p.m.

A lecture-performance by Guillaume Désanges, assisted by Alexandra Delage

Signs and Wonders is a new work following two recent experimental lectures developed by Guillaume Désanges: A History of Performance in 20 Minutes and Vox Artisti. This new project proposes a subjective study of some major figures of modern art, as well as Minimal and Conceptual art, in the form of a mystical investigation. The work will question the links between forms and signs, art and kaballah, nature and culture, and coincidences and symbols. The lecture promises to shed light on how certain elementary geometric patterns related to rational and mathematical models have fed into twentieth-century avant-gardes and modernity in general. Désanges suggests that nowadays these patterns remain objects of representation and of knowledge but also of cult and worship. Considering artists from Marcel Duchamp and Kazimir Malevich to Sol LeWitt, Donald Judd, Bruce Nauman, and Dan Graham, the lecture investigates, in a spirit of adventure, how repetitive signs and their archaic symbolism might open up a secret history of modernity, a hidden language, a code, or a mystical tradition, with initiates, filiations, occult rituals, and heresies.

Speculation based on a game of coincidences, the lecture is entirely illustrated through a shadow play, realized onstage without virtuosity, yet with a desire to demonstrate and work with shapes, light, and darkness. An opportunity to measure the illusionistic and magical potential of practices that we sometimes too easily pigeonhole in the category of rationalism. What you see is not always what you see.

Signs and Wonders is coproduced by Halles de Schaerbeek (Bruxelles), Centre Pompidou (Paris), and FRAC Lorraine (Metz). It was presented at Tate Modern (London) in February 2009