Futur sucks

Futur sucks
What it used to be before our cellular lives

mercredi 21 février 2018

Umberto Boccioni, painter of the new.


The Avant-garde is a vague concept, being out of the blue, something no one seems to de ne with simple words, it sounds easy to nd a peaceful explanation to what this notion may mean today : the avant-garde art is something that we have never seen, that still surprises the eye of the mo- dern viewer, this eye that has seen so much already.

Futurism seems to be an old vision of what future was to look like, it depicts progress in the society in which the artist lives, focuses on the industry, the « real world », shown as it is, with movement, electric colors and machines. Where futurism stands out of other avant-garde art movements is in the raw lines used to create an illusion of movement, as if time was not only passing by in the viewer’s life, but within the painting itself.
The name futurism looks contradictory to what the future really is. The artists claiming to live in a futurly society, because of the many changes that happened in a very short amount of time, the industrial revolution giving birth to a cultural one in western countries and the modernization and mechanization of society are to be depicted in the various works of the movement, but what should be underlined is that there is no will of painting, representing the future to come in futuristic works.

Ceux qui partent, 1911

Indeed, the painting is to picture the present times, as a soon-to-be future.

To be concrete and simpler, one could argue that futurism, by the will of its artists to show factory workers, cars and trains, electricity and machines as their legacy, is to be understood as what could be called and defined as « presentism ». Therefore it sounds important to underline the fact that not only is futurism a movement showing a thriving past, but it also is an artistic movement, out of any consideration at the time.

     Umberto Boccioni is one of the greatest examples of his time to illustrante the points merely developed up above.

The use of straight lines, expressing time passing by or stuck in one’s reality in « Ceux qui partent » and « Ceux qui restent » is interesting.
Why is that ? you may ask. Umberto Boccioni is a friend of Marinetti’s, an Italian poet who published, in 1909, « the Manifesto of Futurism » in the Figaro newspaper, in which he explains the various sores art is living with. The inability for contemporary artists of his time to understand the beauty of the machine instead of that of landscapes and nature, the uselessness of portraying beings, especially women, as allegories of beauty, lust and desire, the shallowness of it are amongst the most important ones to correct. These are easy topics, easy views, overseen visions of life, humanity and art in the art itself. Marinetti calls for « danger, excitement, energy ». He calls for an « audacious » artistic revolution, that doesn’t only targets rich people and the elite that art is supposed to be aimed at because Marinetti sees art as as a supplement of the proletarian revolution. He wants to burn down museums and archives, to let go the history of mankind in order to focus on its future and present times. It is like there is too much to do to remain attached to the Old. Newness needs ressources, all of them and so does art. Therefore the world -Italy, in his manifesto- needs to be delivered from « archaeologists, cicerones and antique dealers », because history, and the past, lock mankind in a cage of regrets and static mediocrity.


      Movement, dynamism, cars are to be worshipped and painted, more than mountains and military battles. In Boccioni’s works, the pieces we are to look deeper into, there is no round circle, to symbolize the eternal movement of cosmos as greek philosophers, like Aristotle and Plato used to define the universe. Here, only lines are to represent movement. Diagonality is for those who leave, braving the obstacles of newness and the fear of the unknown. The « up-right » to « down-left  » direction of the lines makes it as the difficulty is even wider. These lines are like the wind that blows so hard the men and women of the painting have to turn their faces. The wind is so strong it indents the faces and silhouettes of these beings. As if the masks and layers of their emotions were to be discovered. As if men and women of his time needed to let all there fantasies and shallowness behind to be coherent with the times they live in.
     Vertical straight lines, in « Ceux qui restent », are like tears dropping on one’s cheeck or the bars of a prison cell, preventing the odd man-looking figures to move ahead. Rectangles, triangles, square-like figures are to outline the geometricity of the work and its conception of time. A time, that is not rounded, not soft, but harsh and pointed, a sharp new time, that ticks like a clock. These new conceptions help define how movement is to be painted.
      The geometricty mentioned earlier also appears in the colors used. Primary colors are followed by their complementaries, that leads to the illusion of a very « primitive » use of the tones by its almost childish way of looking. But when the eye focuses on the line, the licks of paint, the extreme measure with which each element of the composition is treated strikes the viewer.
The abstracted composition suggests the speed and sens of dislocation associated with the modern days and seems to include an oblique self portrait in the central figure, a man with multiple faces, looking back and forward as if there were things that were left unfinished behind. This could represent the dilemma of letting history go to move forwards, when there is no guarantee than forward is better. People seem to be machines, the bright yellow light behind the man at the center is an electric sun, as if nature on its own was replaced by the newly conquered power of man. Therefore, the sun never sets and the day lasts forever. But the darkness of the painting cannot be forgotten. The everlasting light of the electric day seems to fade as it is never ending. Men get used to this new conception of time as it makes all markers in life indistinct. They seem lost, struggling to walk ahead in a new world in which human force, the strength to walk, make and talk with one’s own body is no longer synonymous with power. Mankind may have outdone nature, but machines have outdone mankind. Therefore the ambiguity of the dark atmosphere painted in a manifesto for progress and industrial revolution show men being lost in between nature and culture, as if the intensity of the changes brought by machines in the human life had been underestimated.

These new conception of light, time and art, are to be put in perspective to be understood. e industrial revolution gives artists and people new living conditions. Society witness the early rise of a new social class : the middle-class.

Ceux qui restent, 1911

     A class that has now access, thanks to higher wages and the beginning of social advances, to spare time and museums. A class that aspires to be like the elite, to understand art, the new art, now that it is accessible. Also, as the ideal of mechanical strength starts to be democratized, artists feel the need to differentiate themselves from the engineer, the « factory [seems to] replace[s] the workshop », art has to be distinct form the technical work workers do. Art rises has a crater of society, a critic of its own consumers, as said by Laurence Bertrand, in Contre-déclin. The power struggle the artist used to be engaged in with his clients gets known over : because art is accessible to all, artists decide to re-evaluate their conception of it and to stop creating only for the money clients gave them in exchange for a painting that represented their vision of art, not the painter’s. 
This new relation to money and art -one creates what one wishes to- transforms the relation artists use to maintain with time : they could stop relying on the orders and wishes of their clients. e early XXth century sees a new perception of the artist’s role arises : the individualistic dimension of the artist is put as an epigraph : the painter, the poet, the sculpter, are not only « art workers », they are also human beings with a soul and a vision of their own work, and this soul and vision are the main difference between them and other workers. The art of the artist becomes the artist's individuality and serves real purposes.

    The futuristic agenda relies on this new era. Boccioni’s work seems incomprehensible at rst sight. The two paintings shown up above are like a portrayal of machine’s ribbons, with human-like gures for the viewer to feel included in the work. But we’ve seen that it goes further than that. at the main point of Boccioni’s paintings is not the representation of the man himself but of the relationship he engaged with his invention. Boccioni, thanks to the revolution in the arts, that made his researches about electricity, photography, the mechanization on the labour field and in the life of the people of his time, possible. The painting we see are both intriguing and an illustration of the time that moves even when people do not. The human-like figure, stocks being the lines, the aspect of these lines, like prison bars, like ribbons, and the apparence of the men : dislocated, like obsolete robots, leaning towards the ground can make us think of a dystopian vision. But the truth is, Boccioni did not hate progress, machines, or electricity. He despised the men, who did not understand his real purpose. Paying a closer attention to the details, and compared to other works of the painter, in which there are no men, we can say that the reason theses men are obsolete machines, is that there are no men anymore. They are pawns used in factories, used in shops, used in their everyday life, with no replacement piece. Once a man is broken, is a man broken. Whereas when a machine is broken, is the machine fixed. In « Ceux qui restent », the «faux-sun» is not even painted, as if those who chose not to support the revolutions going on at the time, could it be the artist’s way of life, the mechanized labour field, or the new organization of society.

As conclusion, it seems fair to sum up everything that has been said. Futurism, in Bocconi’s work, shows a profound admiration for temperance and sobriety. His use of colors and shapes participate to the illusion of order one can find in his painting, and when Marinetti’s Futurism is known to be an anarchist theory, the eye of the viewer is compelled to question his views : is everything better organized than it used to ? Are people happier ? Are machines saving or burrying us?
In the books I read, authors presented Boccioni as a follower. If he was to be mentioned, it was to describe him as one of Marinetti’s disciples, not an artist of his own. To that vision, I disagree. I strongly believe that his work, more specifically, the two pieces I talk about here, are more accessible and clearer than Marinetti’s « poèmes en prose ».

Seeing his work, I was left  with doubts. Futurism was never a movement I thought was woth it. But thinking about it later, I remembered the artists it made me think of. Lines and colors are what I look for the most in the artworks I nd relevant. Boccioni put a tick every boxe. Even know, looking back at it, I cannot help but think, that I do not nd his work that attractive, or marvellous. But it is one of the first painters, that I feel like I understand.

Books I used :

- LISTA Giovanni, Le futurisme : une avant-garde radicale, Gallimard, 2008.
- LISTA Giovanni, F. T. Marinetti, l’anarchiste du futurisme : biographie, Séguier, 1995.
- MILAN Serge, L’antiphilosophie futuriste : propagande, idéologie et concepts dans les manifestes de l’avant-garde italienne 1909-1944, L’Age d’Homme, 2009.
- COMBE Jean-Pierre, GOMBRICH Hans Ernst, LAURIOL Claude, Histoire de l’art, Phaidon, 2006.
 - MARINETTI Filippo Tommaso, Manifestes du futurisme, Séguier, réédition de 1996.
- BERTRAND-DORLÉAC Laurence, Contre-déclin : Monet et Spengler dans les jardins de l’histoire, Gallimard, 2012
- POGGIOLI Renato, The theory of the avant-garde, Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, transl. from the Italian by Gerald Fitzgerald, 1968.
- Le futurisme à Paris, une avant-garde explosive in Centre Pompidou : http://mediation.centrepompi- dou.fr/education/ressources/ENS-futurisme2008/ENS-futurisme2008-04-galerie-Bernheim.html 

mercredi 17 janvier 2018

Untitled

Rape takes away the spontaneity of sex.
That and more. It takes away the ability to think of sex as a possibility free of consequences. To think of sex.
As something, other than a punishment. Other than a coerced attempt to steal one's intimacy.
Rape takes one's body away. It is not a body anymore, more of a cage in which one feels like the bars are burning. There is no touching these bars anymore. No touching anyone else.
Rape makes home feel like a trap, from which there is no escape, because there is no place safer than home.
Rape locks one up.
Rape is disgust. For periods, people, skin.
Rape is long hot showers and the thought of never getting clean. Rape is the impossibility of sleeping and that of waking up.
Rape is tiredness, over tiredness, that stays, from the moment one opens one eyes, to the last breath before nightmares.
Rape is empty nights, with no dreams, no nightmares after all, just sweat as the clock rings.
Rape feels like punishment, revenge. Rape is anger. The anger of not being able to like, love, breath, simply. The anger of being reminded every time one's body appears. Every time  one's body is touched.
Rape takes away the spontaneity of sex.