Le Plateau

Conte philosophique (la Caverne), 1995-1998, © Philippe Fernandez, crédit photo Jean-Christophe Garcia

A preface

Pedro Barateiro, Stéphane Barbier Bouvet, Richard Brautigan, Michael Crowe, Jimmie Durham, Philippe Fernandez, Mark Geffriaud, Ruth Krauss and Antonio Frasconi, Guillaume Leblon, Zoe Leonard, Paul Sietsema, and an exhibition  curated par Triple Candie.

Curators: Élodie Royer et Yoann Gourmel

As a child, I didn’t have an imaginary friend, I had an imaginary photograph. In every other way I was a normal (you could say boring) child. I didn’t see the photo as anything particularly special, but I knew I should keep it to myself. Funnily enough, I thought someone might steal it if they heard about it.
I would stare at this image for countless hours and yet now, I couldn’t really sketch it for you, not properly. It seemed to help me. Whenever I felt alone I would take a look and it would just pour into me. For all I knew I was holding the image upside down the whole time. It didn’t matter, it was my little makeshift shelter.

I only found out what the picture was actually “of” years later at school. I was sixteen or seventeen, a typically bad, uninterested student. My big idea was to only ever read the prefaces in books so I could cover more ground. Not recommended.
Walking to school was depressing, I felt I was going deeper and deeper into a cave. There was only one teacher who I paid attention to, Mrs Padgett. The first thing she told us was Bertrand Russell’s five minute hypothesis: “There is no logical impossibility in the hypothesis that the world sprang into being five minutes ago, exactly as it then was, with a population that “remembered” a wholly unreal past.” She had my attention.

She asked us to imagine what Bertrand had been thinking of five minutes before he had that idea. She asked us to imagine the background and the foreground swapping places. She asked us to imagine it raining frogs, then raining fish, then raining photographs of the sun. She asked us to look at things as though we were bad detectives in danger of getting fired. I remember once, while we were dissecting rocks (instead of toads) she said, “A soap bubble is as real as a fossil tooth.”

One day she mentioned, “Positrons.” I thought of my imaginary photograph. I suddenly knew it was of a positron. The word just seemed right. She handed Marie a picture and asked her to pass it around.
My school chair felt like a swing.
My mind began jumping around, I listened on: “This photo of a positron was taken by Carl Anderson in 1932. One of the puzzles of physics was (I pictured the front of the school) why all electrons are identical. Feynman had (the back of the school) an idea that all electrons could in fact be the same electron, just (a face, two blinks) bouncing back and forth between (a camera flash) the beginning of time and the end. An electron travelling (a baseball) backwards in time is what we (sculptures, drawings, films) call a positron. They do exist. Mind boggling, I know… But what is (another classroom) important to remember is…” Her voice faded out. The classroom rolled over and filled with amber as the picture was handed to me.

Michael Crowe


Slide Show



Exhibition journal