Autoportrait contre nature

Copyright artist(s) and courtesy argos






Original format




Color system




A character in a blue shirt is filmed with a fixed camera, in slow motion. We hear the echo of his footsteps. It’s the artist himself: this is an “auto portrait contra nature”. François lights up a cigarette while glass bottles start raining down around him: they shatter noisily, yet miraculously without ever hitting him. He never looks up to where the source of such mayhem may be, although at one point he does bend over to inspect a piece of glass and – while doing so – a bounced-back bottle hits his buttock. Even when some of the glass projectiles only miss him by a hair’s breadth, he is unmoved, stoical: he keeps on walking around calmly, keeping to the prescribed frame most of the time, smoking his cigarette, slightly and indifferently kicking and treading on the glass with his feet (once a bottle hits his left foot). At the end, he throws away his cigarette and walks out of the picture calmly, leaving the glass chaos behind for the viewer to contemplate or inspect. A picture has been created with one real stroke of something resembling paint: leftover red wine, which spurted out of one of the bottles when it jumped back off the ground. Although in its wildness it may vaguely resemble a broken glass version of a Jackson Pollock, it is not the result of the ‘author’s’ intervention. Rather, the artist’s non-interference, his laissez-faire action, both causes the ‘happening’ (bottles raining down on a man) and its final result: a debris of transparent and coloured glass. François doesn’t ‘walk’ through a space; he doesn’t describe nor prescribe a possible ‘room to live’. Rather, the bottles – thrown at him by someone or something never in view – cut out available space all around him. In a quite literal way, each time a bottle crashes down without hitting him, his life is saved. The exploding shards do not metaphorically remind us of, say, contemporary art’s auto-destructive nature or the frailty of being, but plainly mark the spots where François has not been, and so where he (immediately afterwards, when he starts kicking at, and trampling on them) still is: unharmed, alive and smoking.