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Conversation with Tere Recarens Frédéric Oyharçabal The River Follows Its Flow1 When you returned from your second stay in Dersim (Turkey), you sent me a picture where it can be seen a man climbing a hill. One of your first works is the painting of a "girl running towards nothing "- Chica que corre a la nada. In 1996, you placed your camera in a building yard and you have managed to walk down all the stairs in 15 seconds, the time it takes for your device to take the picture in automatic mode (J’ai réussi [I made it], 1996). Why do you like running so much? I run for personal need and curiosity. Although you are based in Berlin, you never spend there too much time. What makes you willing to run the world so much? In Barcelona, they call me Terremoto (earthquake). When you arrived in Berlin, you shot a short film where you sweep up the clouds (Besenrein, 2003) during a one-minute parachute free fall over the city. In New York, where you also used to live, you were planning to jump from the highest building of PS1 (I was ready to jump, 1999). What does jumping mean to you? Each jump is a confrontation with a new culture. You once wrote me, "I know what a soul and a spirit are," and then you drew a candle. Last summer in Dersim, we walked through the Munzur River valley to visit the Alevis places of worship. You suggested us to put a candle inside the small niche present in every holy place – as Alevis people do- and make a vow. Lately, you quoted a Tibetan local prayer: "May all living beings rise". I have dreams. That is happiness, not money. You draw a lot. Sometimes your drawings leave me uncertain. I draw just as I wash my face. You spin around yourself 127 times before falling (Falling, 1997). There is this picture taken at PS1 where you are caught jumping. The title of the photo is Fall in Love (1999). In the book about your stay in Mali, one can read this sentence embroidered on a fabric: "ALONS AU LIT MON AMOUR MA CHERI “ [Let’s go to bed my love my beloved]2. Are love and inebriation important themes in your work? I love the language of the body: the one of signs, sounds and heart. Can you comment on this message written on a fabric of Mali: "Regardez avec des yeux nouveaux” [Look at things with new eyes]? What I learned in Mali is duality. Do you want to say something about your show?

1. Galerie Anne Barrault, Paris, 8th January–9th February 2011. 2. Tere Recarens, Maa Tere Manalen, Frac Bourgogne ed., Dijon, 2009.


Tere Optimiste3 At the Prado Museum in 2014, you showed me the picture of JosÊ de Ribera The Dream of Jacob (1639). The prophet is asleep near a tree. The traditional ladder that appears to him in a dream in the Bible leaves room for an unreal light above his head. What raises your interest in this picture? Falling asleep under a tree refreshes all desires. 3. art3, Valencia (France), 23rd September–19th November 2016.


One day I showed you the drawing of a bridge in the book of Nicolas Bouvier, L’usage du monde [The Use of the World]4. It could have been be a drawing of yours. It reminded me of the bridge over the Euphrates at the entrance of the village of Mutu in Dersim (Turkey). What did this drawing raise in you? That means opening paths. You visited Iran twice in 2014 and 2015. You showed me a picture of the interior of a bookstore. At the corner of the room, covered in multiple colourful-edged books, a man sits near a round table and looks at you. On the other side of the table, you face us concentrated on an illustrated book. At your feet, several travel bags – one can see the blue cover of the book on your stay in Mali. What did you do in Iran? I discovered Farsi and a very ancient motive. On your exhibition at art3 – which you decided to title Tere Optimiste [Optimist Tere] – you publish Duality5, a poster where you repeat a pattern derived from an older drawing related to your travels in Mali in 2008 and 2009. This pattern means to me the hazards of life and luck. What do you think? Optimism leads to imagination, strength and luck. For the space of art3, you made three wall-drawings. Is that a trilogy in the sense of three indivisible elements? Yes, to have a luck well alive! You often cultivate a certain precariousness in the forms you give to your works, to your messages. I do things that are not bourgeois. In Berlin in 2013, you stretched lines on the heights of your office to hung pages of the Berliner Zeitung, on which you sketched some stains in German that you wanted to finish later on. At the Centro Of Arte Dos de Mayo, in Madrid, in 2014, you made a garland out of pens scraped together from various occasions (Gratis, 2014). You also showed a series of calendars of twelve sheets each filled with personal notes, a fragment of a work initiated in 1998 (Des choses qui méritent d’être écrites [Things that deserve to be written], 1998). I make art that is alive. You recently took part in the group exhibition Punk. Its Traces in Contemporary Art6, where you installed Terremoto (1994-2015)7. What does your work have to do with punk? Terremoto is an attitude. In a notebook you sent me, there is this drawing. In my opinion, it is someone who is sleeping under a blanket. But according to you, it is a mountain... Behind the mountain, you can have some rest (you are already at ease, whereas I am not yet!!!!)

4. Nicolas Bouvier, L’usage du monde (1963), ill. Thierry Vernet, ed. Payot-Rivages, Paris, 2001. 5. Duality, poster, co-edition art3 and captures éditions, Valence, 2016. 6. Centro-Museo Vasco de Arte Contemporáneo, Vitoria-Gasteiz ; Centro de Arte Dos de Mayo CA2M, Madrid ; Museu d’Art Contemporani MACBA, Barcelona ; Museo Universitario del Chopo, Mexico, 2015-2017. 7. “I built an unstable floor with wooden planks. Above them, I placed shelves and all kinds of furniture on which I placed fragile objects. Everything trembled under the feet of visitors. Some of them were afraid of knocking down objects, whereas others were delighted to enjoy such an unexpected freedom”, Tere Recarens, Sportkünstlerin, ed. Frac Bourgogne, Dijon, Galeria Toni Tàpies, Barcelona, 2005, p. 67.


D’Ici à Ici8 Your first visit in Mali was motivated by the desire to discover the meaning of the word ‘tere’ among the Bamanan; a word you discovered during a meeting with a certain Lunettes Rouges. What would your definition of this concept be today? That they are born with tere, which is equivalent to our concept of destiny. 8. Hans & Fritz Contemporary, Barcelona, 21st September– 23rd November 2017.


Does tere have an influence in the way you work? I learned to recognize when it´s not the right time for it. When the energy is not good, and so I feel and remain quiet. To me, Mes derniers calsons, 1997 [My Last Panties] is a self-portrait. In this photograph where you show us your “behind”, you are wearing panties worn out in several places. It is a piece from your early work. What meaning do you attach to it today? The more you persevere, the more you find yourself. During your research voyages, you have at times experienced challenging situations which you have strived hard to flip and turn to you, like a glove. From Mashhad to Mashhad (2015) is the transformation of the negative effects of an event – a plane crash – for you and those around you, into something positive. It is a set of drawings that you made during this journey. You wrote in Farsi on each one of the drawings the following question "What do you think is the most important thing in life?” and you distributed them to the passengers. Moreover, when you make me part of a difficult experience, or disappointment, sometimes you conclude that: "Finally, I am lucky". Yes, that's it! In this specific case, creativity helps. And then the joy of living a real ‘déjà vu’! After your stay in Inner Mongolia in 2008, you published a facsimile of a pocket-book filled with drawings you made to communicate with locals. Do you feel that drawing is a language as any other? Yes, internationally. Glory (2007) is a cover, Fucking Glory (2007) a long wall hanging. These two pieces consist of scarves of various soccer teams, which have been sewn together along the side edges. Fucking Damned Glory (2008) is a hanging in the same spirit but it is you who designed the scarves and, on each of them, you drew objects or situations framed in their equivalent in Chinese. These three works form a trilogy which is derived from the same structural motif. You continued this quest in Mali, with the design of your own message fabric that you proposed in exchange for other fabrics – which resulted in different works, then in Iran by studying Farsi and researching a motif, the ‘Boteh Jegheh’. The 'Boteh Jegheh' is known in the West as 'Paisley'. It is a very ancient motif of the times of the Medes. For your exhibition at the gallery Hans & Fritz Contemporary, you present a large cardboard carpet inspired by an ancient carpet which disappeared and is only known about through descriptions. This work will be used to host events. What kind of a carpet is it? It is The Winter Carpet or The Spring of Khosro9 . I have always been interested in this period of history: Persian art before the Arab conquest. This carpet was in the palace of Ctesiphon at the time of the Sassanid Empire. It was so beautiful that the Arabs were afraid of falling in love with Persian culture and also it was very heavy. So they cut it into several pieces and distributed it as loot. You told me that the space of the Hans & Fritz gallery was something familiar to you. Does that explain the title you give to this exhibition, D’ici à ici [From Here To Here]? The window of this space has the shape of the house I see from my window. D’ici à ici, it means that you make your own journey even if you do not move an inch.

9. From the name of the sovereign Khosro 1st (531-579).


Here are some verses from the poem ‘Chants entre l’âme et l’époux’ [Songs Between the Soul and the Spouse], Cantique Spirituel [Spiritual Song] – manuscript of Sanlúcar – by Jean de la Croix10 :

Buscando mis amores, iré por esos montes y riberas ; ni cogeré las flores, ni tereré las fièras, y pasaré los fuertes y fronteras. Seeking my loves, I will go by these mountains and shores, Will not pick the flowers Nor fear the wild beasts, And will pass the forts and the borders.

All the beginnings of love seemed easy – Hafez

10. Jean de La Croix, Poésies complètes, Librairie Séguier/Obsidiane, Paris, 1988, p.23.


Baharestan Carpet 12 Baharestan Carpet (2017-2018) is a cardboard carpet. Why did you choose this material? It is not expensive, and you walk on it as carefully as on a real carpet. When it will start to wear out, I should like to hang it on the wall. What does Tere Zelzeleh mean? In Farsi, it is Terremoto. You have signed this carpet with a Farsi pun inside a “boteh jegheh” which can be translated into “the bo tere road”. With Spark; (2015-2017), a set of eight silkscreen prints, you tell us the story of this motif also called paisley motif. You write that in the Sasanian period almonds were thought sacred, and became ornamental patterns. On the garments of kings and senior officials, their names appeared inside an almond shape. The same shape is seen from one silkscreen print to the other. You have printed it by hot stamping, a process often used for signatures, seals. The shape is empty, without anything or any name inside. What does it represent? A spark: like a life. What does Josep Pedrals’ Catalan poem you have recopied around the Baharestan Carpet call up? The poem means my identity. Its vocabulary is rich, because each of some thirty intellectual Catalans has given a word. In 2009, you drew a somehow incomplete map of the world. We can see Europe, Africa, America, West Asia and a small bit of Australia. Each, except for Australia, is associated with an element. For America, fire; Africa: earth; Europe: water; West Asia: air. Can you explain your choice for each of them? It is how I felt when I was there. As for Australia, where my work has been shown, it is ether. ETHEREAL (1999) is a room suspended by cables, at a low height. It rocks as soon you enter it. Inside, you show a video: monkeys, in a park, handle flags on which is written “HAL” - the name of Antwerp exhibition hall). The title of the installation is the interweaving of two names (“TERE” and “HAL”) turned into “ETHEREAL”. This English word means “ethereal”, that’s is to say above earthly things. It is only because I was just back to Europe, in love with a year spent in New York, and I landed “by grace” in Belgium - I had a ticket for Barcelona. We see monkeys again in Baharestan Carpet in which they participate in the representation of women fighting each other. Can you explain this scene? For some time women have been fighting for their freedom, but other women fight them. These are the diseases of civilization. What does the presence of monks mean then in Baharestan Carpet and in ETHEREAL? In the carpet, the monkeys represent what is irrational. In the video, they do ply extremely well, and the motion of the suspended monitor is different of the motion of the room, which produces an “ETHEREAL” effect. Beside the fight scene, you have drawn Mohammad Mossadegh, and you have written this sentence: “IF I SEAT SILENTLY, I HAVE SINNED”. What does it mean?


They are Mossadegh’s words. He proclaimed the nationalization of Iranian oil in 1951, and was overthrown by the United States and Great Britain in 1953 13; Mossadegh’s ideas are still current. There is an Iranian proverb, which describes the situation in the country very well: “ A potter man drinks water from a broken jar”. You have also drawn Simorgh. What is it for you? One day Abu Ali gave me the book the Conference of the birds 14. I always have this book with me. And then, I threw myself into the flame.

A potter man drinks water from a broken jar

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12. Galerie Anne Barrault, Paris, April 28 – June 9, 2018 13. Mohammad Mossadegh (1882-1967), a statesman, strove, after the Second World War, for democracy, political and economic independence in Iran. Mossadegh embodied the rejection of foreign interfering and the opposition to colonial 14. Simorgh is a legendary bird in Persian mythology, the subject of a mystic quest in the Song of the birds by Farid od-dîn’Attâr (1158-1221), also known with the title The Conference of the birds.

Conversation with Tere Recarens, Frédéric Oyharçabal  
Conversation with Tere Recarens, Frédéric Oyharçabal  
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