Renaud Ego Talk

international residency program presents

Wednesday, October 5, 6:30 pm

Current apexart resident Renaud Ego will be offering a poetry reading of new works followed by a discussion about the contemporary visual arts and literary scene in France. He will be joined by French poet and curator Franck André Jamme


Born in 1963, Renaud Ego is a French poet and a critic whose essays deal with literature or art. Among his poetry are Le Désastre d’Eden (1996), Calendriers d’avants (2003) and a book to be soon published, l’Objet de la vision. He has also published a novel based on music, Tombeau de Jimi Hendrix (1996). Among his essays are San (2000) a study of rock art in southern Africa, S’il y a lieu (2002) about architecture and l’arpent du poème dépasse l’année lumière (2002) an essay about French poet Matthieu Messagier. He has also written numerous articles for French literary or art reviews, and introduced books such as the complete works of Swedish poet Tomas Tranströmer (Baltiques, 2004) and Géologie historique et autres poèmes de Matthieu Messagier (2002).

Based in Paris and North Burgundy, Franck André Jamme is the author of 12 volumes of poetry and fragments. These books include Pour les simples, La Récitation de l’oubli, translated into English by John
Ashbery, Encore une attaque silencieuse, and Extraits de la vie des scarabées (Fata Morgana, Melville, and Flammarion), as well as numerous limited editions illustrated by such artists as James Brown, Suzan
Frecon, and Zao Wou-Ki.

Please join us.
All events are open to the public and free.


291 Church Street, NYC, 10013
t. 212 431 5270

Directions: A, C, E, N, R, Q, 6 to Canal and 1, 9 to Franklin.

Anatomy of Solitude
(a fragmentary suite)

Monday, September the 19th 2005

« Anatomy of solitude»
I first gave this title to a series of pictures I took of bedrooms where I slept in Canadian and American hotels, some years ago, before I elected to name it part of the experience I have had in my journey. With the approach of winter, during the Canadian and American travel I could not stay outside very late, and spent parts of these evenings in the hotels. The pictures were simple, frontal and objective (if this last word means anything). They were conceived as portraits of the anonymous: a covered bed, pieces of furniture, a bible laying in the drawer, the TV showing an image, a suitcase or an empty wardrobe with jingling coat hangers, nothing more. Some might have seen desperate still lifes in these portraits, but they were not.

Part of the condition of the traveler is to become anonymous. During a journey, especially after few weeks, everyone loses his habits, his friends and the familiar places where he shares his time and such. On one hand, you can feel uncomfortable with such a sensation of the distance, but on another you can catch the eye in it of a door opened on a central experience: a journey just offers you glimpses on the country you visit, and a very thin understanding of its culture and its people but it gives you an opportunity to deepen the knowledge of ones own intimate body: little by little, a kind of silence arises in you, your old skins vanish, your words are no longer surrounded by their mother language, and you get closer to your own skeleton,closer to the skeleton of your thoughts; each of them seems to be sharper, as if nothing of your common life lays as a comfortable coat. If I appreciate comfort, I distrust it as a source of laziness and emotional atrophy. Of course, it is now easy to escape the fear and distance unknown situations might cause. Nothing is simpler than to give a call, to send and receive mails or get news from the country and the people you left behind, but as useful all these links are are tethers on your psyche, refraining you from entering further in the true territory of the journey, where distance becomes the condition of a stranger- a more naked nearness.


Architecture, as a metaphor

September the 24th
It is common to consider that London and Paris have been the capital cities of the 19th century. Regarding the situation with France and Great Britain during this period, there is something true about this. Lively animated by the industrial revolution, powerful commercial banks and the empire they were developing overseas, became the central places in most fields of human activity. Walter Benjamin pointed out a subtle dimension of this phenomenon when he underlined the phantasmagorical aspects of the capitalist development, an idea coming from Marx's studies on the fetishism of merchandise. In particular, Benjamin pointed out the symbolic value of a new type of architecture, known as passages. These passages were Parisian pedestrian streets devoted to exhibiting the most beautiful recently produced goods. Covered by a roof made of glass, protected against bad weather conditions and well lit at night, they were brilliant architectural forms given to the flourishing capitalism.

If New York has been the iconic city of the 20th century, it is also because its architecture embodied some of the main movements of that time, even though had already boomed decades ago. New York created its unique profile in the 1930's or 40's. As a port it was the major gate for immigrants coming from all over the world, and this unprecedented flood a central cultural item of the century shaped a cosmopolitan culture, which prefigured our global world. As a city of immigration, it is a working place designed for work. New York is an urban planned city with blocks of unpretentious brownstones, warehouses and workshops (later transformed into luxury residences). Wide avenues once made for the circulation of goods and persons offered a perfect landscape for car culture to blossom. 3. It is a vertical city; its castles are skyscrapers and its landmarks are headquarters of banks and companies. Are there any (big) political monuments in this place devoted to business? Maybe the Statue of liberty. located in the harbor and imagined by French with their old fashioned sense of allegory! I just wonder if New York would have had such an energy and would have known such a destiny if it had been the political capital of the United States, with all the duties and responsibilities incumbent on it. I should say that I think the main aspects of the architecture symbolize the last century, but if I had to choose one detail, as Benjamin did with the French passages, I would take the fire escapes that streak the facades everywhere. Why? because they are amazing and full of ambiguity: 1. - they really give the buildings a utilitarian dimension. Can you imagine a fire escape on a Parisian "haussmannian" building? Impossible! 2. - In a more symbolic aspect, these fire escapes seem to say that houses made for people who had fled poverty, political violence or anything else, have to show as evidence that in such a city, whatever might be the situation, there would always be an exit leave through. 3. Finally, concerning the question of goods manufactured or stored in these buildings, the fire escapes might symbolize that the final gate, the gate of salvation is in the merchandise this would be the capitalistic interpretation. But they might look also like an invitation given to the thieves to just climb, take the money and run. And as everyone since Marx knows, property is theft. While this would of course be a far more communist or anarchist interpretation. I have zigzagged between opposites, but aren't fire escapes made for this?


To talk, press, release and wait for steady light:
Amplify love dissipate hate
Keep on grass
Dead if we panic
If you see something say something:
You are beautiful, an alien prototype
Kiss me I'm special
It burns!
Friendship begins with good communication:
Corporate vandals not welcome
Don't watch metal injection
Abolish alienation
Save the Supreme Court
Make out, not war
Watch out,
keep left,
& beware of god
*(Tears of Cain)
after dark, the naked earth, handful of dust
(1) Ready made with stickers, flyers and public sentences collected here and there, September the 28th

Meeting Mark Lombardi
September the 30th
In that dream, I was climbing on a building and it soon proved not to be a good idea. I was already very high up when I tried to open a window to reach a safer place inside, but the window was in fact a very small drawer. It is strange how construction has recently changed, I thought, hanging on carefully as I began to swing over a pretty deep void. No, it was definitely not a good idea to climb on buildings that were as supple as trees, and believe me, I was really hanging on strongly, my hands holding tight to resist this earth's gravitational force whose appeal was stronger than love's attraction. Thanks to this beautiful and magical ability of dreams, I was back on the ground where people had thrown hundreds of white ropes to restrain the building from collapsing, and now it looked like a wedding dress of light. There, under the ropes, behind a puff of smoke, Mark Lombardi was standing.
I wish I had met Mark Lombardi.
Thanks to this beautiful and magical ability of thoughts, I meet him.
Here we are, lets say in a wine bar where it is allowed to smoke, if such places still exist. In this story, we cannot stand in a freezing street, sorry. So we are inside, quiet, our thoughts gently connecting themselves as living cells, and they are soon a net of exchanging words, breathing intuitions, and curved sentences delicately shaped. You can see them in the air, drifting slowly above the bar in the direction of a bottle of Château Margaux in a 1982 vintage well-balanced and soft. And as they are drifting away, they are talking about spider’s webs and telling how fascinated Mark was with these strong and fragile constructions of saliva, and they are talking about my own love, when I was a child, for these maps of destinations between cities connected by airlines, which have allowed me to view and become wider than I should have been, and our thoughts are smiling. Later, the quiet conversation is coming to a dolphin’s dance in a marina at dusk, where it jumps ands splashes, tracing a wandering line where someone would have heard the dolphin’s secret mother tongue if the tiers hadn’t been deserted. And it is coming to Klee’s drawing where for the first time, as Michaux said, one could have seen a dreaming line and one could have imagined
what a light architecture designed for light thoughts could be. We have not a single word for the hidden plots, the skeleton of democracy, the stinking crafty devils dressed in dinner jackets. We both know about it and there is so much to say about a world seeking beauty against disastrous greed.


October 7, 2005

How I had a piece of paradise after having a gum?
… Walking down Broadway, I was offered a packet of "Fresh winter gum," with a flyer where I was kindly requested to join a meeting in a church, on the next Sunday to come. But first I tried a tablet : fresh, tasty, chemical and sweet. So sweet that, after a while, I became so thirsty I thought I would die. I had never had such a powerful table before, able to dry my mouth like only the desert (I thought) was able. I suddenly felt lonely and anxious. Then, I realized that I was not in a desert but in a very civilized city with all the comforts required by a thirsty citizen yearning to drink. I ran for a bottle and as "Poland Spring" chased away "Fresh winter," I had a piece of paradise.

How I heard the melody of dispair?
… Better not to say.

How I heard the melody of joy?
… Do it yourself. You want the recipe? Ok, take off your Nikes, lay down on the floor and close your eyes. Breathe in and breathe out. Don’t you hear anything? Yes, pay attention and listen carefully. This far away rumor. This pulse in your blood, strong and delicate as an athletic drummer, Max Roach for example, playing with Clifford Brown. Your nerves, as musical as a waving line of bass, when Scott Lafaro played with such a dramatic urgency, in 1961. And your breath, the one of a colossus, or the one of a bent down silhouette with a pork pie hat? And they all play together, taking you deep inside the secret volume of this instant, as a diligence driven by Mingus would drop you to Guernavaca. Yes, just do it!

How I had a second of anger and how it promptly vanished?
...Walking down 2nd Avenue, I came upon a deli where I stopped in front of a sign : "No poets allowed." Surprising at first sight but understandable. I was about to leave when I leaned over the board and realized that it said "No pets allowed". They were not welcome (sorry mice, pythons, alligators and distinguished tigers, you cannot come in) but that I might be welcome in the deli. Funny how a few centimeters are a cheap solution against paranoia.

How I lived in the past, for about 24 seconds?
...Close to Times Square, a huge adverstisement shouts : "Welcome to the center of universe. 19 000 sf available including the street level." Like this, there are still people to believe Ptolemy and Hipparque were right? " We’re living in the past!"

How I cooled Donald Trump?
...Walking down Broadway (I know, I often walk on Broadway), I suddenly realized that a giant was staring at me. Tall as a building, Donald Trump was looking at me and he didn’t seem to be happy. He was frowning and his lips were pulled tight. I didn’t know why. I had never met him before. I knew him, as everybody. I thought that if I could penetrate Mrs. Trump’s brain, I might have had an answer. Maybe he had to face unexpected losses on Wall Street. I mean, if you lost 20 Billion $, you would surely frown and keep your lips pulled tight. But it was a sunny day in New York, my few bucks could not really help Donald, and I decided to go on my way, and so I did until I turned. In the distance, Donald was still staring at me, huge as a skyscraper, with his little deep set eyes mostly hidden behind a falling lock of hair. And suddenly I understood why Donald was so anxious. He was getting bald (and nobody was supposed to know) and his wig had moved aside in front of the photograph. "Hey, Don, take off your wig, you will feel more comfortable. One can succeed even being bald. Think about Lenin? You don’t like Lenin? Ok, so Yul Brynner, or Phil Collins, or Andre Agassi? More, it’s fashionable! Even hairy men want to be bald as a snooker ball. Think about Michael Jordan? Take off your wig and smile, Don."