Patrick Bernier & Olive Martin's presentation at Artist Placement
Patrick Bernier & Olive Martin speak about their inquiry into four kodachrome images they found at the CCP (Centre de Culture Populaire) in the industrial port city of Saint-Nazaire in France. These images taken in the 1980s show shipyard workers sharing, in the framework of their company, their cultural backgrounds and primary know-how.
The images were an important source of inspiration within Patrick & Olive's further research into weaving techniques and instigated them to actively interact with its origins, the Senegalese weaving culture.
Within their presentation, Patrick & Olive touch upon different aspects of their research: questions on fair practice that arise when collaboratively developing their weaving skills with indiginous cultures, how their exploration is a research into possiblities of opening up 'the' algorithm and how it generates reflections on contracting and law, on abstract patterns and the process of adding meaning to them, contemporary use of public space and the search for a possible common agenda between companies and artists.
00:00 Introduction by Florence Cheval focussing on the collaborative nature of and questions on transmission of knowledge, techniques within the oeuvre of Bernier & Martin.
01:16 Importance of the pictures for the research trajectory
This story is more a response to the invitation of Caveat. It is a short story that interacts with APG and offers insight in the ongoing artistic research. These images had an imput and consequences on our artistic practice, we already showed them at an exhibition at St Nazaire, a French port town established around shipbuilding, today mainly known for cruise ship building and war vessels.
03:30 The images were discovered 4 years ago by an art historian and artist. They were discovered in the Centre de Culture Populaire de Saint Nazaire, run by and financed through different company committees for social & cultural activities. The commission asks artists to either work at a specific enterprise or in various places. The artist and art historian did an audit of the CCP. There they discovered the pictures. They noticed the strange interaction of craftsmen and shipyard workers and got into contact with Bernier & Martin.
06:50 On the loom as a tool - A machine that needs at least 2 to operate
How the 'déparleur' became Bernier & Martin's tool and the kodachromes created a historical link between it and the city of Saint Nazaire.
14:47 Story of the loom
The loom in the pictures is not a regular loom. Two people are working on it - the one on the side is working with the loom (assistant, the one who is learning). the other is using the 'navette' (the master). Rare to have a machine that needs 2 to operate!
16:50 > 24:10 Context of the pictures
On the discovery of the context of the pictures. The demonstration of the weaving was organised by a solidarity committee for migrant workers in Saint Nazaire.
27:30 - Contemporary use of public space
Question whether it is the same thing to work within enterprise or in an art space. There is no direct testimony but indirectly people have testified that they were dissappointed to come to Saint Nazaire because the space they had didn't allow them to install the loom. Public space wasn't possbile to use, would it be possible to create a specific status for public space?
30:00 - How legal problematics influence activities
The activity of the commitee got colonised by legal problematics throughout the years. Cultural activities as the ones in the past slowly disappeared.
34:06 - 41:21
Actual status of the research / On collaborative modes of production
Vincent Meessen How is it connected to your recent research in Dakar, Senegal? How do you bring this research to another level?
2015 - Dakar - investigation in weaving
2016 - Dakar - meeting the weavers, recognising the 'snake pattern' also in the images (old pattern that can be found in each atelier)
How they work with catalogues and how dialogue influences the proces of changing patterns
Getting into the technique - borrowing of the motif returning to Saint Nazaire.
Working by 2 on the machine influenced our way of working . We started working on the same piece of fabric together, to produce together the 'same thing'.
A current question is how can we add 'more', we would like to extend to 3 persons or even more. This is our investigation within Caveat, how to add more people to the process?
In february 2019 the deparleur has been installed again in Senegal, Dakar besides the weaver they collaborate with. Weaving is the only common language.
41:35 - 46:11 Antony Hudek On queer reading of the research and gender roles in the project. Could this be something to weave into the project?
Women are the commanditeurs, men produce within the local culture.
48:48 - On working in public space
50:28 - Money is always trouble - Building a long term relationship - striving for a fair collaboration
Ronny Heiremans How does the exchange through the weaving influences the economical exchange?
Bernier & Martin indicate that they try to negotiate 'time'. The price of a piece of fabric normally depends on the complexity of the pattern. Together they produced a fabric for furniture and they used a different currency developed on the basis of this local price-setting. e.g. the remuneration for the time the weaver spends on teaching them depends on the amount of known patterns he could produce in that time.
We are trying to be fair and regular clients. How to work together on specific patterns, how can the work be shared? How can they borrow from his catalogue in a fair way, and the other way around how can they include patterns in his catalogue, ideally coming to 'common patterns'.
56:27 - 57:40 Link to divergent agenda's of companies and artists, they intent to create a common agenda between a company and artists. New medium of exchange, trying to include both perspectives.
57:57 - weaving a contract - On knots, entrelacs, maths and implementing meaning in abstract patterns
On weaving a contract as an experiment.
Weaving is a language, patterns can be found everywhere, and some are very common in every culture they look abstract but everywhere people are implementing meaning in it.
1:01:01 - 1:06:15 It's about opening up the algorithm How industrialistation erased community creating and symbolic meaning from the weaving process
Vincent Meessen Why going back to ancient techniques? It seems like there is a link with the interest in open source coding. Patrick Bernier It is about opening up the algorithm. Our exploration into the maniac technique is about humanising the algorithm, about how to allow human interaction.
Weaving has always been about community building and the making of myth, not only fabric. It is only later with industrialisation that we lost the importance of this aspect. The question we would like to ask is did machines gave us back time and if so how should we use this time. Maybe we could invest it in weaving contracts!
1:09:30 > 1:13:55 Malleable patterns
About the interaction with local craftsmen, the borrowing of traditional patterns. How the patterns are mallable, the meaning that is implemented depends on the context, the clients transmission of the meaning of patterns goes through communities. The weavers adapt the patterns according to the dialogue with the clients, it is a life process.
1:13:56 > 1:19:44 - Colonial context Timo Demollin: In your work there is no literal artist placement but you are placing yourself in a specific context. How is it linked to the colonial context?
The story we are writing throughout our research is a story of a boat constructed in the 60's in Saint Nazaire, a cruise ship. There is a link with the colonial context. Going back to earlier work 'échiqueté' starting from research on a picture from a family archive, showing Bernier's grandfather on African territory.