Pierre Fouché

Page 1


A Whatiftheworld/Gallery Publication

Tracing Shadows PIERRE FOUCHé

Selected Works FROM

1999 – 2013 With essays by Abri de Swardt, Johan Myburg, Linda Stupart & Andrew J. Hennlich



Sculptures & Textiles Text by Andrew J. Hennlich & Abri de Swart


Drawings, Patterns & Ephemeral Works Text by John Myburg



ADDENDUM: et cetera

Artist’s Statement CURRICULUM VITAE

chapter one sculptures & textiles

THESE WAVES Text by Andrew J. Hennlich

‘A Net Whose Fibres Pass Imperceptibly Beneath the World’ – Pierre Fouché’s These Waves.

1  Barthes, R. 1981. Camera Lucida. New York: Hill and Wang. p27. 2  Ibid. p25-6.

Pierre Fouché’s exhibition These Waves works between the structuralist register of the image’s signification and the unknown/unseen aspects of representation. Shifting between the elusiveness of desire and structures of communication, Fouché evokes the divide between punctum and studium that Roland Barthes constructs in his final text, Camera Lucida. Barthes begins Camera Lucida with a photograph by Daniel Boudinet, which the author does not discuss. However, the Boudinet photograph demonstrates Barthes’ notion of the punctum, those unanticipated things that touch the viewer of the photograph unexpectedly, moments of shock that sting or prick the viewer’s consciousness.1 Barthes contrasts punctum with studium, a more structuralist reading of the signifiers of the image that make the meaning of the image work. It is the facts that tell us the intended meaning of the photograph.2 Richly hued in tones of azure, navy, greens and stark black, Boudinet’s photograph of a bed, now empty, shows traces of the presence of those who had occupied it. A tattered curtain whose fabric shows its wear hangs above the bed. Much like a camera’s pinhole aperture letting little specks of light through to the negative, 9

[ Andrew J. Hennlich ]

little slits of light pass through the fabric charged with the task of blocking the light and protecting the room’s occupants from view. This membrane suggests something beyond the image’s frame: both the passage of light through the curtain and a suggestion of the bodies that once occupied the bed, now departed. The evocation of objects residing outside the field of vision marks Fouché’s explorations of the representation of desire and the perception of images in These Waves. By questioning the representation of images, moving between the digital and natural domains represented in the exhibition’s references to both weather systems and blogging platforms, Fouché turns towards systems at once intensely private and global in their reach. These Waves shifts between structured systems of signification and the illusiveness of desire and loss, things that, like the punctum, arrest or shock the process of signification. Fouché describes These Waves as a multigenre exploration of the perception of ‘the transience of light, weather, and human consciousness.’3 It thus simultaneously works on a very personal and global scale. The exhibition comprises several works that employ ‘amateur’ forms of visual production, such as watercolour, pencil drawings, photographs and a bobbin lace border (hailing craft work traditionally seen as outside the spectrum of the ‘fine arts’) whose pattern is formed by using Morse code. The Cluny lace pattern, His foam-white arms go over and around me, transcribes a passage taken from novelist and explorer Crosbie Garstin’s poem ‘George Peter’s Rock’. Fouché takes a passage narrating a sailor’s seduction by the sea; in it, Garstin describes the sea as having cold wet lips, foam 10

3  Pierre Fouché. 2012. These Waves. unpublished artist’s statement.

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4  Fouché. These Waves. 5  Email conversation with the artist.

white arms and green hair. The allure of these features proves deadly as the sailor drowns. Fouché’s utilization of the passage queers it. Despite the representation of the lace border in a rigid system of signification, form proves illusive and difficult to grasp, and in this way queers normative structures of representation through desire. The lace border is formed from a structuralist system of communication, yet much like the sea in Garstin’s poem (both a danger and an object of desire), it refuses such simple representation. The border’s desire is doubled in an image of Iranian men, Mahmoud & Ayaz, described as ‘carefree and happy, before their arrest and execution’ for the statutory rape of a male minor.4 Mahmoud & Ayaz is formed through ‘pixellation’, using 10,000 indigo-coloured dice as pixels to form the image. By rotating the dice, the number of dots visible affects the hue of each pixel. Here, Fouché refers to image-making through a system of a grid (its negative spaces are formed from two ancient Middle Eastern patterns, while a third diagonal arrangement creates a pattern of diamonds and crosses influenced by Fouché’s work with Torchon lace) and chance evoked in the randomness of dice, which redoubles the doubt evoked in the ‘blur’ of pixellated images.5 Both the lace border and pixellated dice image show desire and wanting in the joy of the two youths and in the desire of the sea, yet indicate a deathly referent: being lured into the danger that lurks beneath the surface of the waves, or the political order of Iran. Barthes, similarly attuned to this sort of ‘catastrophe’, laments on a photograph of Lewis Payne moments before his hanging for the attempted assassination of U.S. Secretary of State W.H. 11

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Seward. Barthes locates the beauty of the man in the order of studium, but states: ‘the punctum is: he is going to die. I read at the same time: This will be and this has been.’6 It is the shock of death that interrupts the image. The Cluny lace border, while appearing like the waves of the sea, has a shark tooth pattern indicating something lurking beneath the surface that pricks or arrests one. Likewise, the loss is not present in the image of the two young Iranian males; its juxtaposition with the wave-like border sets up an exchange between the beauty of youth and the shock of violence revealed in the facts of their execution. Fouché displays a second lace portrait of an elderly gay man, Your young voice – a portrait of Ivan Katen, assembled using a ‘domestic’ sewing machine as a central image of the exhibition. It features six panels draped from the ceiling in black-blue lace, which comprise the portrait. Your young voice’s open pattern forms geometric patterns evocative of the ornamentation of Islamic art, bring the lace bobbin border and Mahmoud & Ayaz together in their decorative formats. The domesticity of the portrait of Katen is redoubled in pencil drawings of young men in tightly composed interior spaces entitled And the walls came tumbling down. The subjects are sprawled out upon beds, leaning against windowsills smoking, reaching down for an object thrown upon one’s bookshelf – all rendered in pencil on graphing paper, highlighting the paper’s use as both structure and an artist’s tool to draw images. Like the lace bobbin translating a passage of poetry, this gridded space translates the photograph into Fouché’s ‘amateur’ interventions using charcoal 12

6  Barthes, Camera Lucida. p96.

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drawing, often seen as a minor form of visual production compared to oil painting. However, the gaps, those images that exceed the frame of the image, prevent a full perception of the person pictured, filling the image with desire and the need to imagine what lies beyond its boundaries. The singularity and intimacy of the portrait of Ivan Katen, seated in Fouché’s favourite chair in his studio, is juxtaposed with the drawings, whose images are taken from a blogging platform. As Fouché redraws them in pencil, ‘a favoured medium in the adolescent’s repertoire of art media’, a page containing the digital provenance of the image accompanies each image in flowing script. The drawings become global in their continual reblogging and movement throughout the Internet, but become both anonymous in this movement and intimate in Fouché’s reproductions. This dialectic of intimacy and anonymity is played out in the framing of the images. In each drawing, something exceeds the field of vision; the drawing of a young man smoking blocks his eyes, a kind of formal language of blocking out one’s identity. In another drawing in the series, in which a man is lying on a bed one, sees only a glimpse of his face and shoulders; the rest of the body, despite the erotic signification suggested by lying in the bed, is unavailable to the viewer. Despite the public nature of these images, there is something that lies beyond the field of representation that suggests a more personal relationship to the image. The third portion of this exhibition is a series of watercolour seascapes, Cyan Sundays. Cyan Sundays draws from the Sunday painter’s amateur production 13

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of watercolours. Fouché paints a number of small framed seascapes drawn from the same azure, forest green, white and grey palate used to produce the Cluny lace. They evoke the amateur status that Fouché takes by using these media. This approach is important to him, placing the production of these works at the margins of visual culture, thus queering the process of production. Fouché creates these seascapes from the descriptions of costal scenes that Virginia Woolf gives in the interludes in her most experimental novel, The Waves. In fact, Woolf ’s opening description likens the sea to a piece of cloth, tying it to Fouché’s work with fabric in These Waves. These imagined seascapes, present in both Fouché and Woolf ’s work, are evocative of the daydreaming in which the subjects of Fouché’s charcoal drawings seem to be engaged. Fouché performs a sort of decoding through imagination of Woolf ’s descriptions. The Waves juxtaposes psychological descriptions with these seascapes, frequently influencing the characters’ actions and perceptions of each other through the use of descriptions of flora and fauna and a rich language of colour. The characters and the seascapes work between the infinite nature of the ocean and the finite nature of psychological interiority, hinting at the uncertainty and precariousness of both. Woolf ’s treatment of the landscape in some ways understands the blocked colour of impressionism, as well as the quickly sketched nature of watercolour, often narrating a turbulent approach to seascapes. The imagining taking place in Cyan Sundays creates a space of desire for the subject imagined, bringing one back to the structured reproduction evoked by the 14

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graphing paper in the pencil drawings and its excess in desire also at work in Barthes’ text. Barthes works between these overlapping functions; his structuralist work unpacks the ideologies of the signifiers within the photograph that evoke the political, social or cultural function the image, yet Barthes also searches for that intensely personal yet illusive affective moment. Throughout Camera Lucida Barthes explores loss through photography. In the Boudinet photograph, the absence of the bodies that occupied the bed signifies a sense of loss. There is uncertainty about the bed’s function as a site of illness, death or perhaps the departure of a lover. While Fouché’s work doesn’t directly hail the same photographic schema as Barthes’ text, what is central is the relationships in These Waves between structures of signification and the images of desire that are brought up in these domestic spaces. Specifically, these include the imagining of weather scenes from Woolf ’s novel, the interior spaces of the pencil drawings, and the illusiveness of the sailor who cannot be captured in the Garstin poem. In these ways, Fouché considers not only how identity and meaning are produced through language and translation, but he signifies something at work in this coding of language that eludes representation and breaks down (a process at work in the pixellation), something that evokes a sense of desire at work in punctum. These Waves shows these scenes, but much like the pencil drawings there is a sense of something beyond the surface of perception, where clear meaning begins to dissolve.


[ Andrew J. Hennlich ]

Producing the lace bobbin border, Fouché takes maritime communication through Morse code and turns it into a representation of desire. While the work signifies the process of language’s ability to shape and code something into meaning (as it performatively does with issues of race, class, sexuality, gender, etc.), it also signifies the illusiveness of the man in the poem; its green and blue strands come to represent the figure’s arms and hair, as he is both a figure searched for and, as is the sea, omnipresent in the sailor’s life. The image floats like the waves of the sea; its open weave form of representation is meant to evoke shark’s teeth. It is at once the surface and references the uncertainty of what lurks beneath it. The shark’s tooth suggests a potential for puncture and bruising, much like punctum, lurking secretly beneath the surface. The border in its formal production is also at the margins of both art, and as a border in and of itself. Its open working allows for permeability from the inside and outside. By working with this traditional form of craft in a domain of ‘high’ art, Fouché is able to queer (that is, turn towards a non-normative understanding) representation in visual production. This permeability invites an exchange between desire and the political, the deathly referent moves between each portion of the work. My attention given to Fouché’s work seems to emphasize the written word articulated in the poems, Woolf ’s novel, and the scripted code that he uses to form the lace boundary. However, this divide represented in Barthes’ treatment of the Boudinet photograph reveals a divide between the seen and unseen that is also at work in the visual divides found in These Waves. In the same manner 16

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that a wave acts as a visual manifestation of currents, tide, weather and other natural phenomena, it also conceals beneath it things that we cannot see. It is a doubled sense of an image’s signification, tracing its circulation through overdetermined networks such as the ‘blogosphere’ while at the same time resurrecting an intensely personal referent through the reimagining that is at work in Fouché’s drawings, lace-work and watercolours. In this way, the work moves between interior worlds, both mental and physical, and exteriorities between political systems, natural phenomena and the global circulation of images. These Waves’ use of amateur forms of production becomes queered for the artist; he feels they are non-normative. In this sense, Fouché highlights the political concerns of representing queer sexuality, referenced in the dice mosaic of the Iranian youths. But, like the punctum of this image, it is the signification between those things framed and that which is outside it that the work derives its meaning from. By emphasizing the queered nature of the work, These Waves takes its voice in those things that we don’t immediately see; it is a document of the creative work done as those items find Fouché. In this way, These Waves produces a voice that informs not only the politics of representing queer subjects, but articulates it through desire. Fouché not only marks the presence of these images, but is keenly attuned to how the image, like the non-traditional, non-normative forms of artistic production, exceed the boundaries set up for them. It is through desire, that which is not immediately visible, that Fouché finds both a political and aesthetic voice in These Waves.

These Waves  [ 2012 ] Cotton on hessian needlepoint ◆ 35 x 28 cm



His foam-white arms go over and round me   [ 2012 ] Bobbin lace in cotton, lace pillow & stand, hassock, vinyl lettering, wooden bobbins spangled with glass & lapis lazuli ◆ Installation Dimensions variable



His foam-white arms go over and round me   [ 2012 ] Bobbin lace in cotton, lace pillow & stand, hassock, vinyl lettering, wooden bobbins spangled with glass & lapis lazuli ◆ Installation Dimensions variable



Mahmoud & Ayaz  [ 2012 ] 10 000 indigo dice ◆ 200 x 128 x 1.6 cm.



Your young voice – a portrait of Ivan Katzen  [ 2012 ] Domestic sewing machine stitched lace, chiffon, tulle, fabric, acrylic thread in 6 panels ◆ Each panel 197.6 x 22 cm



Another Aperture: Craft towards an Alternative Photography Text by Abri de Swart

So I resolved to start my inquiry with no more than a few photographs, the ones I was sure existed for me. Nothing to do with a corpus: only some bodies. In this (after all) conventional debate between science and subjectivity, I had arrived at this curious notion: why mightn’t there be, somehow, a new science for each object? A mathesis singularis (and no longer universalis)? – Roland Barthes in Camera Lucida1

1  Barthes, R. 1984. Camera Lucida: Reflections on Photography. London: Fontana. p64. 2  A term inclusive of all photographs, either snapshots or studio portraits, which visualise the domestic sphere of friends and family.

Imagining or imaging a world without photography has become virtually impossible. The camera’s eye has become metonymic for ours; in fact, the aperture is paramount to the pupil: it has annexed all forms of the visual, seeing closer, further, penetrating through, capturing more and in more detail. Zooming in, the lens has become the decisive window, an anthropological looking glass, both apparatus and evidence, picturing the societies that have spawned and embraced it. Photographic nomenclature is now vernacular; we see photographically; we seek the photogenic. This insatiable pursuit of the moment in time, picture perfect and print-ready, has become universalised, hegemonic. Lending magnitude, especially in the capacities of domestic photography2 , to an experience, an experience only made real as far as it is visualised, as far as it is manifested in an image through the camera, ‘miniaturize[d]’, it transforms, according to Susan 29

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Sontag, ‘history into spectacle’3. Subsequently, in order to ‘consume the raw materials of our tomorrow’s memories’, to purchase ‘this past-in-the-future, this nostalgia-in-prospect’ as Annette Kuhn delineates4, we smile like we mean it to fit into the (existing) frame, a process where singularity solely encompasses a choice between matte or gloss. This catalogue essay examines, in relation to photographic practices, a selection of Pierre Fouché’s work that exists for me, probing the snapshot towards an unmeditated, honest relationship to subjectivity. A packaged subtraction from reality, the social photograph frames significance, documenting, validating and sanctifying. Entirely ordinary, it is as binding as it is banal, its immediacy satisfactory for its small audience with the amateur at its helm. Often ascribed as the public5 interface of the private, it is ideal, as Barthes notes, ‘to utter interiority without yielding intimacy’6, an objective Fouché emulates. An event within itself, Fouché identifies its accessibility and sentimentality as incremental in its power to move us, a capacity rendered universal by the infinite repository of existing photographs we mimic and maintain in front of the lens, as Christoph Doswald relates: ‘[t]he images are inside us, and we are the images’ 7 . Readily shifting from warm reminiscences to a condoned voyeurism into the lives of others, the use of the social photograph within the realm of art becomes suffocated in a surplus of meaning to the point of inconsequential oblivion. Unanchored, bereft of a caption that voices 30

3  Sontag, S. 2008. On Photography. London: Penguin. p109. 4  Kuhn, A. 2003. Remembrance: The child I never was, in The Photography Reader, edited by Wells, L. London and New York: Routledge. p401. 5  As far as it is presented and displayed as shorthand for social teleology. 6  Barthes, R. 1984. Camera Lucida: Reflections on Photography. London: Fontana. p98. 7  Doswald, C. 1999. Introduction, in Missing link: the image of man in contemporary photography, edited by Doswald, C. Zurich & New York: Kunstmuseum Bern & Stemmle. p14.

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8  Sontag, S. 2008. On Photography. London: Penguin. p111. 9  Avedon cited in Fouché, P. 2006. The distance between us: strategizing a queer, personal and social politic. Thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements of the

context, the photograph is rendered mute – it does ‘not explain; [it] acknowledge[s]’, relaying a message ‘both transparent and mysterious’ as Sontag asserts citing Diane Arbus: ‘A photograph is a secret about a secret. The more it tells you, the less you know’8. Reaching into the frame, beyond the flat photographic plane, is unfeasible, as Richard Avedon concurs:

degree Master of Arts (Fine Arts) at the University of Stellenbosch. p52. 10  Ritchin, F. 2009. After Photography. New York: Norton. p32.

The point is that you can’t get at the thing itself, the real nature of the sitter, by stripping away the surface. The surface is all you’ve got. You can only get beyond the surface by working with the surface.9

Fouché traverses this epistemological dilemma in signification by engaging directly with the surface interface of the photograph, translating its molecular façade into something altogether other. Absconding reiterations of the ordinary, he deconstructs the image in a process analogous to the techgnosis of digital photography where ‘much will occur after the shutter is released’ as Fred Ritchin elaborates: the ‘photograph becomes the initial research, an image draft, as vulnerable to modification as it has always been to recontextualisation.’10 Via a systematic process of breakdown, in imaging software like Photoshop, of the source image into its constituent pixels, the building blocks of the digitized photograph, Fouché reduces the image into a map of squares, a manageable mosaic that functions as a blueprint. This transcription of the hypertext of the photograph, as abstracted data 31

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to be played with, entails a sublimation of passion into a rigid analytic, as is seen in The Distance Between Us II (2004), a photograph of his previous partner André embracing him, mathematically reassembled through 6000 dice. Coherent from afar the work becomes abstracted upon closer inspection, its rigorous but economic internal logic laid bare: comprised of twenty tones of red dice, the nuances deriving from inconsistencies in manufacturing, as well as the six tones possible from the six different sides of the dice (the lightest being that of six, and the darkest that of one), the poetic matter is here the meaning. Reading as a pixelated jpeg, the dice connote chance: from the leisure of childhood board games, to striking it lucky in love, it all comes down to a gamble, and therefore a risk – the jeopardy of displaying homosexual affection publically, of losing your heart, is met by the throw of the dice. Valiant and vulnerable, if not requisitely fatalistic, it is the chances one must take. The possibilities imbued in how the dice lands, as well as in the propensity of the digital image for manipulation and simulation, become apt metaphors for an understanding of sexuality as socially constructed, standing opposite to an essentialist viewpoint embodied by analogue photography. Chemical, it is more often than not an end unto itself. Looking down upon the work, and therefore at André and Pierre, who in turn peer upwards, the viewer’s gaze activates a hierarchy of subject/object, where the power lies in the hands of the viewer-subject to 32

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11  Barthes, R. 1984. Camera Lucida: Reflections on Photography. London: Fontana. p11. 12  Ibid: p14.

reify the art-object. Through this relationship social perceptions regarding sexuality and the imposition of gendered structures are called into being, where the hetero-normative hegemony places demands on desire and identify through constraints on the homosexual body in its performance of masculinity, in particular by dousing it in fear and shame, alienating as it distances. This collective discrepancy in agency is magnified by the physical expanse between spectator and art. Consequently physical interactions affirming sexual difference are relegated to the private sphere, that of the anonymous interior of the work. Here occurs a celebration of a queer politic in spite of the viewer, but also for them, a jubilation poignant as far as it is ostensibly uncalled for by one of the parties, who, perhaps still hesitant to wear his heart on his sleeve appears (rather pleasantly) surprised by the sudden squeeze from his beloved. An icon of stolen caresses and failed relationships, it is also a self-portrait conveying the uncanny mirroring through the photographic selfimage, as annotated by Barthes: ‘I constitute myself in the process of ‘posing’, I instantaneously make another body for myself, I transform myself in advance into an image’11. Stepping outside the body, doubling, the self becomes other, through the camera’s lens the subject ‘feels he is becoming an object’, undergoing a ‘microversion of death’12 , the decisive distancing. Intimations of bereavement also permeate the stifling prerogatives of the family album, an archive that records in order to corroborate. Its photographic traces warrant 33

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a familial history that is the source of self-knowledge of heredity, and the perpetuation of a unifying myth of togetherness. Edifying, this performance of happiness spawns an unsustainable sensibility that estranges as far as it endeavours to assimilate. It is this reiterated representation of family, smiling, that codifies and naturalises the hetero-normative, functioning as an institutionalised, pedagogical instrument, what Paul Ricouer deems the ‘monument hiding behind the document’, that is a ‘witness in spite of [itself]’13. Put to another use, violently decontextualised from the archive into a freer interpretive structure, this domestic ideology of authentication becomes destitute. Adrift in a new context of display its latent dissidence is palpable in Fouché’s The Distance Between Us III (2005– 2006), an alteration of a photograph depicting two men at the shore into a nine-point tapestry. By virtue of the studium, which Barthes declares that ‘very wide field of unconcerned desire, of various interest, of inconsequential taste’14 which one engages with ‘culturally’15, present within the print, it is clear that this is as an archived image. Discoloured, with outmoded haircuts and beachwear donned by the men, this snap is a lucky find from Fouché’s family album. Shot by his mother when his parents were on honeymoon, the fortuitous erotic quality of the image resonates with Barthes notion of that which ‘will disturb the studium’ – the punctum – ‘that accident which prides me (but also bruises me, is poignant to me).’16 Here the punctum is the touch of the right-hand man leaning with his arm on the shoulder of Fouché’s father, the 34

13  Ricouer, P. 2006. Archives, Documents, Traces, in The Archive – Documents of Contemporary Art, edited by Merewether, C. Cambridge, Massachusetts: MIT Press. p67–68. 14  Barthes, R. 1984. Camera Lucida: Reflections on Photography. London: Fontana. p27. 15  Ibid: p26. 16  Ibid: p27.

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17  Ibid: p45. 18  Ibid: p59. 19  Derivative of the gendered division of labour wherein men were ascribed as fixers of (broken) things, and women as (home) makers, a process

other man. Although not contextualised by the image itself, this information is an incision into the photo, an accidental wound disclosing a ‘power of expansion’, that fantastically ‘transcends [the photograph] as medium, to be no longer a sign but the thing itself ’17, a ‘subtle beyond’18 – the outside of the image.

institutionalized in primary education through needlework as obligatory activity for girls and woodwork as requisite for boys.

A labour of love, the tapestry, carefully and intensively woven from the heart, is of the feminised realm of craft, conceived to keep idle hands busy, docile, and dutiful. Turning inwards, this gendered leisure19 is analogous to interiority, to the private sphere, the female domain of the household, yet also to the mother herself, to the womb, the space of the ur-home, the primal inside. Inhabiting this domain, in an encounter with origins, with glee, Fouché in a role-reversal to the prescribed, engages in a tactile translation of the archive, giving president to touch, the sensual, above the mechanical click of the shutter. Photography has always been a masculine practice, from Hill, through Strand, Weston and till Avedon and beyond, the lens is the phallic extension of the heterosexual gaze, shooting what it aims at, the hunter not the hunted. By the tapestry process, and via embodying the gaze of the mother-photographer, Fouché is doubly partaking in the matrilineal, yet, in a reversal of the oedipal saga, he circumvents castration anxiety by negating the sight of the mother, in order to overtake her bond with the father. This incestuous desire, of an amorous conception of the father, fundamentally subverts the ‘I do’-performative of matrimony, the speech35

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act christening the hierarchy of normativity itself, the ‘till-death-do-us-part’ consummated on the very honeymoon of this snapshot. Calculated, this paternal homoeroticism becomes searing, intimate and fetishist through its compulsive transcription as tapestry, a fixation predicated on a power over the ephemeral instance of punctum within the frame. Moreover, this is a queering, which, according to Jagose, interrogates ‘conventional understandings of sexual identity by deconstructing the categories, oppositions and equations that sustain them’20, a strategic politic that seeks to eradicate the sustained enterprise of latching the straight/gay dualism unto that of normal/abnormal. This is not the gaze of psychosis, it is just another sight, yet one the familial seems to resist. Here the microscopic discomfort acknowledged in his father’s face upon the somewhat intrusive touch, is reflected upon solitarily, through a meditative, repetitive and cathartic process. A purging of the father-son relationship, itself the initial dogmatic vehicle of masculinity through rituals of confrontation and affirmation, it is a consuming process, of mastery over uncertainties, which even then seems perpetually unsettled. Arduous, this manual re-printing of the snapshot stands diametrically opposite to the immediacy, haste and whim of the photographic instant, Fouché’s incarnation necessitating patience and time. Kim Gurney writes that his ‘handcrafted aesthetic’ furthermore opposes a ‘contemporary taste for mass-produced objects, outsourced labour and general convenience 36

20  Jagose cited in Fouché, P. 2006. The distance between us: strategizing a queer, personal and social politic. Thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements of the degree Master of Arts (Fine Arts) at the University of Stellenbosch. p5.

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21  Gurney, K. 2007. Emotional Exorcism. Art South Africa 5(4), Winter: p58. 22  Benjamin, W. 2008. The Work of art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction. London: Penguin. p39. 23  Banz, S 1999. The Photograph as Misunderstanding, in Missing link: the image of man in contemporary photography, edited by Doswald, C. Zurich & New York: Kunstmuseum Bern & Stemmle. p31. 24  Sontag, S. 2008. On Photography. London: Penguin. p168. 25  Barthes, R. 1984. Camera Lucida: Reflections on Photography. London: Fontana. p91.

culture’21, a culture spawned from the age of technological reproduction that invented the camera. Out of the factory line, in a reversal of reproducibility through a move from hand to eye to hand, the singularity of Fouché‘s object retains what Walter Benjamin attributes as ‘aura’, ‘a unique manifestation of distance’22 . Yet, entwined in the tapestry itself is the photographic notion of time, which Stefan Banz calls ‘an extraction … from life … neither time nor space’23, a still, a slice of time dislocated from the continuum, frozen in an extended now, eternal, as Sontag maintains: ‘in the image-world, it has happened, and it will forever happen in that way.’24 Time is of no consequence, infinitely reiterating the singular instance of the stolen moment on the beach – ‘Time’s immobilization assumes only an excessive, monstrous mode: Time is engrossed’25 – as Barthes ruminates, yet in the tapestry Time is everything, thread for thread an hour glass, an abacus that is never enough. Rendered incomplete, the sky in the tapestry is an opening, a gap heralding a yearning to escape representational trappings. Suspended in its installation, it is visible from its flipside, exposing an underbelly of tangled threads and knots. In this transparent trace of production Fouché not only discloses his process, but also voices the underlying unfinished business, the loose ends, that transfuse our relationships and recollections exemplified in photographs. It does not only show us what we want to remember, but sincerely acknowledges complexities, how the imposition of a Cartesian grid fails. Nothing is seamless; Utopia always forsakes. 37

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The void in the tapestry is the distance between us, a mutlivocal aperture that addresses fissures in intimacy, the unsaid, the ins and in-betweens in the familial, romantic, societal and generational.

26  AidenShaw. 2010. ‘this pic is me 20 yrs ago, unmarked & unscarred & unscared. he makes me want to comfort him or fuck him, or both 1 after the other endlessly’. Twitter [O]. Posted 9:20 AM Nov 6th 2009.

Trapped somewhere between portrait and portrayal, Aiden’s Metamorphosis (2010) is a figure in lace, a self, named and recalled. Venerating the uncanny relations one has to photographic images of oneself at a much younger age, transfused with demise, the work translates in threads a profile picture change on the diary-esque site, Twitter, by Aiden Shaw, gay cultural icon, pornographic actor and activist writer. Along with this cyber metamorphosis of self-visualisation, he posted the following tweet: ‘this pic is me 20 yrs ago, unmarked & unscarred & unscared. he makes me want to comfort him or fuck him, or both 1 after the other endlessly’26, which, in synthesizing a lamenting nostalgia for the good old days along with a narcissistic and auto-erotic lusting after the fountain of youth, casts Aiden as the father, the daddy27 and the lover. Roles permeated with and undone by time, particularly photographic time. Afloat, Aiden is comprised of three layers of lace that echoes the shading of his body in nuances of aqua: mint, spindrift, and teal fragments, like yarns in a tale, contour the segments of his torso bathed in light, half-a-figure, like a crescent moon. Suspended at a remove from one another the shards become an anatomical archipelago, a tenuous blanket adrift in a sea of light. He is a marion38

27  The term ‘Daddy’, in gay jargon, humorously refers to the older man in a relationship with a much younger one. This light-hearted reference Fouché subtly ties with the serious historic account of the Roman emperor Hadrian, who, in mourning the death of his young lover, Antinous, literally enshrined and worshipped him through the creation of countless portrait busts of his countenance.

Sculptures & Textiles

28  Lace making has now been usurped into craft guilds, exclusively female gatherings that Fouché entered almost as an imposter to develop his craft. 29  Breytenbach, R. 2008. The black widow: Convoluted Involvement: Pierre Fouché. Pythagoras TV [O]. Available: http://pythagorastv.ning.com/profiles/blogs/ the-black-widow-convoluted [2011, April 17]. 30  Wolken, P. 2003. Fire and Ice, in The Photography Reader, edited by Wells, L. London and New York: Routledge. p76. 31  Sontag, S. 2008. On Photography. London: Penguin. p163.

ette of (his own) memory, the black bobbins of his construction self-reflexively dripping off his figure, chimes in the wind. Redolent of romance, the bobbins here recall histories of sailors inscribing love-letters on the bobbins they carve for their beloveds whilst at sea, the paramours in turn waiting away, crafting lace28 in longing. Slipping through the fingers, evanescent, amorphous, Aiden is a lyrical cenotaph to a former self and love lost, what Richard Breytenbach imparts as ‘a forlorn yearning, a fool’s errand’29. The black thread he is dangled from dematerialise afore a configuration of duct tape stuck behind on the wall, evocative of a censored graph, or crossed-out love poem. Angelic, he is also spectral, a phantom menace of absence, the ghost of times past. The hollows between his filaments of lace implicate us in his transitional portrait: reminiscence is not insulated; it is all-inclusive, making all complicit, enmeshed and imbedded. Dwelling on the bygone through the photograph of the self becomes an inadequate practice, as this moment, ‘of near-zero duration’ proclaims Peter Wolken is ‘located in an ever-receding then.’30 The photograph seizes this instant of memory in personal history, and asphyxiates it, albeit Sontag, ‘possess[ing] the past’, through ‘imprisoning reality.’31 Here the reality of virginal naivety itself is reinscribed and dies at the hand of the really real, spectacular, testimonial authority of the that-has-been, that apparition which subsequently ‘relieves us of ’, as John Berger concurs, ‘the burden of memory’; ‘the camera records in order 39

[ Abri de Swardt ]

to forget.’32 The counter-memory and counter-reality of this photograph of Aiden from which Fouché fashioned this installation is forever greater than memory, outliving Youth; a zombie, what Barthes deems the ‘certificate of presence’33 of Aiden’s, and our, future deaths. A memento mori is both too much and not enough, and Fouché’s lace vestige becomes a stand-in for the keepsake snapshot, embodying the missing object, calling it to being and bringing it to life. It is a resurrection, the needle and thread operational in an open-heart surgery to resuscitate loss through affect. Giving solace, the craft of Fouché’s hand is soft to remember, and gentle to cherish, exciting Barthes’ ‘photographic ecstasy’: ‘obliging the loving and terrified consciousness to return to the very letter of Time: a strictly revulsive movement which reverses the course of the thing.’34 Breaking from the rectangular formations of the picture frame and his prior sculptural reworkings, the that-has-been becomes an it-will-be. ◆◆◆ ‘Once the world has been photographed,’ Ritchin resolves, ‘it is never again the same.’35 What comes before and after the release of the shutter is unequivocally altered, made strange, distant, melancholy objects. Through a surrealist ‘distance in time’, Sontag laments, ‘the camera makes everyone a tourist in other people’s reality, and eventually in one’s own’36, as Louis Kaplan concludes, ‘[t]he photograph estranges, it estranges us.’37 The camera is amongst the 40

32  Berger, J. 1980. About Looking. New York: Pantheon. p55. 33  Barthes, R. 1984. Camera Lucida: Reflections on Photography. London: Fontana. p87. 34  Ibid: p119. 35  Ritchin, F. 2009. After Photography. New York: Norton. p23. 36  Sontag, S 2008. On Photography. London: Penguin. p57–58. 37  Kaplan, L. 2010. Photograph/Death Mask: Jean-Luc Nancy’s recasting of the photographic image. Journal of Visual Culture 9(45). p54.

Sculptures & Textiles

38  Berger, J. 1980. About Looking. New York: Pantheon. p58.

distances between us, functioning as both wall and bridge. Desire, and the subsequent intimacy, touch and love, exists only through difference, through distance, yet the risk prevails for distance to become paramount, divorcing, and discarding the subject. It is through a delicate, careful and conscientious interlacing of desire, memory and loss, as manifest in the timelessness of the photographic instant and a queer politic, that Fouché approximates and occupies what Berger deems ‘an alternative photography’: The task of an alternative photography is to incorporate photography into social and political memory, instead of using it as a substitute which encourages the atrophy of any such memory. The task will determine both the kinds of pictures taken and the way they are used. 38

Time after time, through the eye of the needle, Fouché makes closer and urgent another aperture.


Fred & Denis  [ 2011] Domestic sewing machine embroidered lace in six panels ◆ 1800 x 1600 mm.



Aiden's Metamorphosis  [ 2010 ] Three layers of bone lace in cotton, English bobbins spangled with glass & lapis lazuli, duct tape, black polyester thread ◆ Installation dimensions variable ◆ Private collection.



The Kiss  [ 2008 ] Crochet Lace ◆ 2000 x 1200 mm. Collection: Iziko South African National Gallery.



[ left: front / right: back ]

The Leap  [ 2008 ] Petit-point tapestry: single stranded embroidery cotton, single weave cotton fabric ◆ 360 x 400 mm.



The dark night  [ 2008 ] Domestic sewing machine-embroidered polyester thread on three panels of bull-denim ◆ 1340 x 1545 mm.




Portrait of Marie Fouché (b.Greyling)  [ 2007 ] Black embossing tape, Perspex, cable wire ◆ 1251 x 1440 x 5 mm. Private collection.


Love me less, but love me longer  [ 2007 ] Acrylic yarn, Perspex, Nylon-coated cotton thread ◆ 570 x 500 mm. Private collection.



Psamma Arenaria (cross section)  [ 2007 ] Crochet lace ◆ 550 x 430 mm.



Anna Maria Fouché né de Beer  [2011] Hand-cut craft paper ◆ Ed 3+AP ◆ 594 x 420mm Private collections



Holiday with the voices of Swedish Radio  [ 2007 ] 10 layers of hand-cut craft paper ◆ 450 x 650 mm. Private collection.


Hello! Soldier  [ 2004 ] 18-count tapestry canvas, 6-stranded cotton thread ◆ 450 x 290 mm. Private collection.


970 Pieces Missing  [ 2006 ] Warm grey no.5 marker, 6-stranded cotton thread on 18-count canvas, tapestry frame, nylon coated cotton thread ◆ 504 x 438 mm. Private collection.



The Distance Between Us I  [ 2003 ] Acrylic and pen on found cardboard puzzle ◆ 1350 x 1095 mm. Corporate collection.



The Distance Between Us II  [ 2004 ] Dice, label stickers, cardboard, pen, clear tape ◆ 840 x 1095 mm. Corporate collection. Photo: H.L. Swart.



The Distance Between Us III   [ 2005–2006 ] Tapestry: 13-count canvas, 9-stranded cotton thread, pen, pencil, marker ◆ 1050 x 1070mm. Private collection.





1  Barthes, R. 2002 (1977). A Lover’s Discourse – Fragments. London: Vintage Classics.

Back from the Cité International des Arts in Paris where Pierre Fouché lived and worked for six months as part of the Absa L’Atelier Award he won last year1 his exhibition Convoluted Involvement could be read as a report of his sojourn in the French capital. Fouché won the award with The Distance between Us III – a work in mixed media. His interest in snapshots and the reworking of snapshots became evident in this ‘unfinished tapestry’. In Convoluted Involvement he continues his use of snapshots in his exploration of aspects of ‘unfinished business’. Some key aspects are important to take into consideration in a discussion of his work: Fouché’s work bears testimony to his process of art making: More than merely time consuming it has always been labour intensive. ‘Labour of love’ with the added element of a meditative or even therapeutic dimension comes to mind when viewing his art. At the same time his work evokes a sense of absence, of distance (e.g. The Distance between Us). Fouché achieves and defines the distance between himself as artist and his subject by taking on the role of the voyeur. Fouché’s work is gendered. At one stage he remarked: ‘I like working with traditionally gender-bound material – and staking my own place in that ...’ 73

[ Johan Myburg ]

It is as if Roland Barthes (2002:13,14) had Fouché’s work in mind when he wrote on The Absent One: Historically, the discourse of absence is carried on by the Woman: Woman is sedentary, Man hunts, journeys; Woman is faithful (she waits), man is fickle (he sails away, he cruises). It is Woman who give shape to absence, elaborates its fiction, for she has time to do so; she weaves and she sings, the Spinning Songs express both immobility (by the hum of the Wheel) and absence (far away, rhythms of travel, sea urges, cavalcades). It follows that in any man who utters the other’s absence something feminine is declared: this man who waits and who suffers from his waiting is miraculously feminized. A man is not feminized because he is inverted but because he is in love. (Myth and utopia: the origins have belonged, the future will belong to the subjects in whom there is something feminine.)

Fouché toils with ‘waiting’ and ‘something feminine’. Waiting not necessarily for the loved one, but perhaps more for healing after the loved one (has left). Waiting (and the labour of love) becomes a way of remembering (or re-membering the absent one) and as such a way of letting go. Crocheting, traditionally regarded as a ‘feminine activity’, becomes in The Kiss Fouché’s medium to exorcise absence. But crocheting is also a way of ‘convoluting’ and ‘involving’ thread in such a way that new meaning could be generated. In this way the medium, process and product forms one pattern. 74

Drawings, Patterns & Ephemeral Works

When he knits (Aimez-moi moins, mais aimez-mois longtemps) knitting into takes on the form of the reversal, of knitting out. The Kiss, conjuring up images of Rodin’s work of the same name, optimally embodies the convoluted involvement of the exhibition title. In this work Fouché returns to the snapshot, that furtive moment that has the potential to last an eternity. More than in their embrace the lovers are involved, intertwined, in crocheting tread. In Template & Progress – two complementary but at the same time opposing concepts – the process of creating The Kiss is traced in something of a topographical map, fragmented perhaps, but nonetheless an indication of ‘progress’, of finding solace in the ‘labour of love’. While Fouché knits, writes, embroiders and crochets – all apparent means of binding, it is as if the opposite becomes decisive: to untangle, to write out – in other words: to purge, to distance oneself from absence. The work 25 Letters indicates this process of writing out: a striking means of writing off. Fouché’s engagement with the snapshot – that fleeting moment (The Dark Night) with near endless ramifications, is his way of building his own discourse of absence, and his manifestation of Barthes’ words – ‘the future will belong to the subjects in whom there is something feminine’.


Cyan Sundays  [ 2012 ] Watercolour on 185g/m² Arches paper ◆ Series of 10 ◆ 23 x 31 cm each


Cyan Sundays (Bantry Bay 26/2/2012)  [ 2012 ] Watercolour on 185g/m² Arches paper ◆ 23 x 31 cm


[ from top to bottom ]

Cyan Sundays (Sea Point 8/4/2012)  [ 2012 ] Watercolour on 185g/m² Arches paper ◆ 23 x 31 cm Cyan Sundays (Bachelor's Cove 15/4/2012)  [ 2012 ] Watercolour on 185g/m² Arches paper ◆ 23 x 31 cm


[ from top to bottom ]

Cyan Sundays (Third Beach 4/3/2012)  [ 2012 ] Watercolour on 185g/m² Arches paper ◆ 23 x 31 cm Cyan Sundays (Mouille Point 11/3/2012)  [ 2012 ] Watercolour on 185g/m² Arches paper ◆ 23 x 31 cm




[ previous page ]

The Lacemaker's Notebook  [ 2012 ] Installation of drawings, patterns, samplers, a black & white photograph, and objects ◆ Dimensions variable


[ left and right ]

The Lacemaker's Notebook  [ 2012 ] Details


[ left and right ]

The Lacemaker's Notebook  [ 2012 ] Details




Tronk van wier en gras  [ 2012 ] Bobbin lace in cotton ◆ 43 x 73 cm


And the walls came tumbling down (nakedneighbour posted this)   [ 2011-2012 ] Based on a photograph by Thomas Kaah, with kind permission Graphite on graph paper ◆ 83 x 59.5 cm


And the walls came tumbling down (satanstesticle posted this)   [ 2011-2012 ] Based on a photograph by Neesa Kessinger, with kind permission Graphite on graph paper ◆ 83 x 59.5cm


And the walls came tumbling down (soulofpraise posted this)  [ 2011-2012 ] Based on a found image by an anonymous photographer Graphite on graph paper ◆ 83 x 59.5 cm


And the walls came tumbling down (cuntology posted this)  [ 2011-2012 ] Based on a found image by an anonymous photographer Graphite on graph paper ◆ 83 x 59.5 cm


And the walls came tumbling down (Poiluhairy posted this)  [ 2011-212 ] Based on a found image by an anonymous photographer Graphite on graph paper ◆ 83 x 59.5 cm


And the walls came tumbling down (Val3tim posted this)  [ 2011-212 ] Based on a found image by an anonymous photographer Graphite on graph paper ◆ 83 x 59.5 cm




[ from left to right ]

Template & Progress  [ 2008 ] Pen & ink, masking tape, plastic tape, cartridge & tracing paper ◆ 14 panels 285 x 500 mm each. Wen die grys muur  [ 2009 ] Ink on 1mm graph pape ◆ 420 x 590 mm. Private collection.



[ from left to right ]

Untitled   [ 2006 ] Pen on 1mm graph paper ◆ 620 x 495 mm. Private collection. Boy  [ 2002 ] Marker on graph-paper ◆ 130 x 80 mm.



[ from left to right ]

25 Letters   [ 2008 ] Ink transfer & pen embossing on airmail letter-pad template page ◆ 298 x 210 mm ◆ Private collection. Its down to you  [ 2008 ] Pen & ink on hand-drawn graph paper ◆ 960 x 960 mm.




[ from left to right ]

Loose ends I  [ 2008 ] recycled crochet cotton. Dimensions variable. Loose ends II  [ 2008 ] Recycled embroidery cotton on paper. 330 x 260mm.


[ from left to right ]

Running Out   [ 2008 ] Leftover crochet cotton on cardboard spools ◆ 450 x 50 mm. Private collection. Rejected  [ 2007 ] Found Polaroid photographs, clear tape ◆ 600 x 260 mm.




[ from left to right ]

Investigation  [ 2003 ] Acrylic on index cards, Installation ◆ Dimensions variable. Unit Index III   [ 2005 ] Collage of pencil on photocopied graph paper panels ◆ 1900 x 1700 mm. Private collection.



Unit index I  [ 2003 ] Label stickers on digital prints ◆ 706 x 1005 mm.






Double Negative: Performance, Performativity and the Queer Impostor Text by Linda Stupart

Gender ought not to be constructed as a stable identity or locus of agency from which various acts follow; rather, gender is an identity tenuously constituted in time, instituted in an exterior space through a stylized repetition of acts […] This formulation moves the conception of gender off the ground of a substantial model of identity to one that requires a conception of gender as a constituted social temporality. 1

1  Judith Butler. 1990. Gender Trouble. Routledge: New York. p191. 2  From T. S Elliot’s 1925 poem The Hollow Men, which reads: Between the motion And the act Falls the Shadow. [O]. Available: http://aduni. org/~heather/occs/honors/ Poem.htm

Fouché is dressed in a black suit and sitting in a black chair, a deadly serious expression on his face. He is in a bare white room, with only a small (black) wireless radio in the corner. In the foreground of the image is a rope, hanging suggestively from the ceiling, its purpose unfathomable. A second image shows the artist, still serious, still shadowed, evidently engaged in some kind of delicate operation, the nature of which remains unclear. Here instead of the thick rope is a thin white thread, tensed in anticipation on one of many black shiny bobbins. We have caught him, it seems, unaware, in-between, in the shadow that falls (to paraphrase T.S Elliot) between the motion and the (repetitive and continuous) act.2 A man busy working (as is Man’s prerogative). But, Fouché tells us, he is, in fact, performing. 113

[ Linda Stupart ]

And not only that, but he is an impostor3, a fraud, someone and something other to that which he performs. Locating his actions thus implies a copy, a simulation and an intervention into the expected, but also negates any finite assumption as to the performer’s supposed natural identity. To be an impersonator is, before it is about taking on the role of an Other, to be ‘not-oneself ’, with the performer’s identity obscured by that which is performed, the ‘I’ residing only through a series of negations. If, as Butler proclaims above, we are to accept gender as performative; a set of actions from which the ‘I’ emerges, as opposed to the natural visible position from which the individual performs, then Fouché’s act, his intrusion into a specifically gendered realm, becomes complicitous in the negation, or at least concealment, of his own gendered subjectivity. For by engaging in a notably ‘stylized repetition of acts’ as he makes lace in the gallery (and this, we finally see, is what he is doing), a ritual the artist himself tells us is one belonging to a ‘tradition which generally excluded men in the manufacturing process’ 4, the impostor not only suggests a fissure in his own visible masculinity, but also threatens the very stability of that subjectivity into which he inserts himself. Fouché appears, as we have said, as a man, surely, but one who performs the ‘women’s work’ of lace making. However, the performance is not that simple. Instead of assuming a ’man’ who acts like a woman, what is ap114

3  Fouché, P. 2009. As Time Went On. [O]. Available: http://www.pierrefouche.net/projects-as-timewent-on.php 4  Ibid.

Projects, Performances & Installations

5  David Halperin. 1995. St Foucault. p62.

parent here is a (apparently male) subject being shaped by his own ‘repetitive’ acts – a performance in a gallery, but one which consciously mimics the everyday performativity that shapes notions of gender, sex and sexuality. A fraud (not a woman) within a women’s realm, so then not-a-woman, but not necessarily a Man (do real men sew, thread, craft?) and if not-a-man, then what? Queer perhaps, a word which by its definition implies the unexpected, the other from the norm, and for many (including both those who vilify and those who define themselves through ‘Queerness’) has come to mean any gender definition or sexual preference that is complex, multifaceted, non-binary, other to Others, a term that, like the impostor, is defined through negation. Queer is by definition whatever is at odds with the normal, the legitimate, the dominant. There is nothing particular to which is necessarily refers. It is an identity without an essence. ‘Queer’ then, demarcates not a positivity but a positionality vis-à-vis the normative. 5

Thus, in As time went on the grown men were now able to make lace, so that when the sea was too rough they were able to support themselves (but wait! Another inversion, in which we are told that in fact Fouché is performing masculinity, albeit in the guise of femininity being performed by a man), Fouché purposefully plays with notions of gendered identity and histories, presenting an unsettling ambiguity within his own subjectivity as he quietly attends to his craft. 115

[ Linda Stupart ]

This kind of transgressive passivity is central to Love & Misery, where Fouché performs as the ultimate queer impostor, the drag queen, here managing to subvert both the queerness and the charade (or the Drag and the Queen) of the drag tradition. Dressed in jeans and a white T-shirt, standing on a simple white stage, Fouché sings a series of fourteen contemporary songs by a range of artists with ‘as much emotion as he can muster’ 6, his only costume changes switching T-shirts before the beginning of each track, with each bearing a different name (some men, some women) across the chest. Love & Misery then leeches drag of its campness, its parody, and disallows the potentially sexist essentialising of femininity indicative of the traditional Queen; a performance that references drag acts in its refusal to adhere to any of the characteristics that drag requires. Un-drag drag. Fouché does, however, reference drag for good reason. If, as Butler suggests, ‘in imitating gender, drag implicitly reveals the imitative structure of gender itself – as well as its contingency’ 7 then drag might be considered as gender simulacrum, a parody of the very notion of an original, ‘the truth which conceals that there is none.’8 The not-drag then (and perhaps then, even, not-queer) that Fouché performs presents the artist as a floating signifier, literally donning different names in a constant shift of identity and sexual preference (is he taking on a role, or singing to the name on his chest) even while he himself appears as the very definition of normative jeans-and-T-shirt masculinity.


6  Fouché, P. 2007. Love and Misery. [O]. Available: http://www. pierrefouche.net/projectslove-misery.php 7  Judith Butler. 1990. Gender Trouble. Routledge: New York. p137. 8  Baudrillard, J. 1988. Selected writings. Cambridge: UK. p74.

Projects, Performances & Installations

9  Ibid. 10  Ibid.

In The Ecstasy of St. Daniël Engelbrecht, a collaboration between Fouché and his partner, Werner Ungerer, the artists created an homage to a South African smalltown not-hero – a teenage boy who, after becoming increasingly withdrawn disappeared from his foster parents home in Barendsdorp, leaving only an empty adolescent bedroom behind. As shocked and concerned visitors started to visit the missing boy’s room, the space became a site for pilgrimage after ‘the miraculous disappearance of [the boy’s mother’s] psoriasis after touching the boy’s bed linen’9, linen that, if expert analysis of Daniel’s diaries is to be believed, would have been the site of much torment as the boy grappled with his latent homosexuality10. In The Ecstasy of St. Daniël Engelbrecht, Fouché and Ungerer are not actors, but rather set builders, though impostors nonetheless – creating a bedroom that is not their own, nor that of the small town boy they reference, but rather a signifier of the teenage bedroom in a clusterfuck of calligraphy, drawings, video, text and found objects, which all hint to a dissolution of the real within an imagined teenage boy’s unnamed desires. This empty room, then, straddles the lines of reality and fiction, memorial and pure fantasy, in yet another subversion of the truth and normalcy associated with finite ideas of gender, sex and desire. And in Take it Like a Man, Fouché steps entirely outside of his own identity, facilitating a photography project with seven Capetonian rentboys. These sex workers are 117

[ Linda Stupart ]

given Polaroid cameras and basic photography training to allow them to present their environment, shifting the artist’s gaze to a very specific group of Others, who are, Fouché tells us ‘forging an existence in this doubly negated realm of identity’11. Quietly and pervasively resisting fixed meanings and any kind of easily untangled subjectivity, Fouché’s projects are rather interrogations into the plausibility of any kind of fixed, gendered identity, as negations beget more questions, and questions more ambiguities. Fouché refuses to allow us to feel, or be in one place or another, caught (like the tense thread in As time went on) always somewhere in-between.


11  Fouché, P. 2009. Take it Like a Man. [O]. Available: http://www.pierrefouche.net/projects-polaroids. php]. Emphasis my own


The Ecstasy of St. Daniël Engelbrecht   [ 2010 ] Pierre Fouché & Werner Ungerer ◆ Multi- & mixed media installation ◆ Dimensions variable.



The Gift (or Torchon-spider croquet)  [ 2009 ] Pierre Fouché & Liza Grobler ◆ Collaborative gift ribbon lacemaking performance in the garden of the Irma Stern Museum, 24 October 2009 ◆ This collaborative performance and picnic was the closing event of Liza Grobler’s exhibition Visitor.




As time went on the grown men were now able to make lace, so that when the sea was too rough they were able to support themselves   [ 2009 ] Installation/performance ◆ Lace pillow & stand, swivel chair, cotton thread, hand drawn lace prickings (card-mounted graph-paper), English style bobbins spangled with glass and lapis lazuli, samples of lace grounds in progress, wireless radio. Exhibited as part of Studio Visit/Conversation curated by Bianca Baldi & Kirsty Cockerillat, AVA Gallery, Cape Town, 25 May to 12 June 2009.


Take it like a man - Polaroids by rentboys   [ 2006 ] Anonymous artists. A sample of some submissions ◆ Polaroid photographs. Installation view ◆ Polaroid photographs mounted in unprinted cake boxes.



lvj + mjb xxx   [ 2004 ] KKNK intervention as part of the D.I.E.N.S. collective (Johan Thom, Liza Grobler, Pierre Fouché & Norman O’Flynn): Via advertisements in the local paper, posters & fliers, festival goers were asked to SMS their loved ones’ terms of endearment. These were then written on red bunting as the messages arrived. Once a string was completed it was installed in Baron van Rheede street, Oudtshoorn.



ADDENDUM et cetera

Fouché’s work consistently represents individuals, from close familiars to strangers whose likenesses are culled from the realm of domestic photography in all its guises: from scratchy old prints to digital downloads. The portrait is subsequently crafted. It is woven with lacebobbins, embroidered, written-out, cut-out of paper, knitted, letter-embossed in plastic, crocheted, assembled with dice or painted on a puzzle. The residues of these laborious construction techniques often become secondary portraits by default – aesthetically autonomous, yet reminding of the primary figuration and its creation. Each instance of Fouché’s interpretation of an individual likeness involves a triadic narrative: the story of the individual represented, the story of the photographic likeness, and the history of the medium and technique used to reinterpret the photographic instant. These narratives are layered in the final portrait that monumentalises the personal, the individual, the mundane. The contrast between the lens based source material, the fraction of a second it took to expose the moment, the months, years, to translate the image in thread, for instance, open up meanings from the specific and personal (the instant) to the broad and collective (history).





University of Stellenbosch MA in Fine Art (cum laude)


University of Stellenbosch BA in Fine Art (cum laude)


[solo exhibitions]

[solo exhibitions]

these Waves Whatiftheworld Gallery, Cape Town


Convoluted involvement Bell-Roberts: Cape Town & Absa Gallery: Johannesburg


The distance between us Bell-Roberts: Cape Town


Excluded & Unsaid blankprojects: Cape Town


[group exhibitions]

[group * indicatesexhibitions] project

Not-So-Common Threads (curated by John Chaich) Leslie+Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art: New York


Suspicious Minds - Artist's exploration of mind and matter Michaelis Gallery: Cape Town


Trading Freedoms (part of the conference Love, Sex, Desire & the (Post)Colonial) curated by Bettina Malcomess, University of London


Ingrid Jonker Rust & Vrede: Durbanville 2010

Manet’s too tight to mention WhatiftheWorld: Cape Town

The Menippean Uprising blank projects: Cape Town

The Menippean Uprising blank projects: Cape Town

Ways of seeing Ore gallery: Cape Town

Ways of seeing Ore gallery: Cape Town

Inverting the Pyramid blank projects: Cape Town

Inverting the Pyramid blank projects: Cape Town

1910–2010: From Pierneef to Gugulective Iziko South African National Gallery, Cape Town

1910–2010: From Pierneef to Gug Iziko South African National Ga

Manet’s too tight to mention WhatiftheWorld: Cape Town


gulective allery, Cape Town

[group exhibitions continued...] Swallow My Pride blank projects: Cape Town 2009

The gift (collaboration with Liza Grobler) Irma Stern Museum: Cape Town Studio visit AVA: Cape Town Signs/Representation 14–1 Gallerie: Stuttgart Obsessie KKNK: Oudtshoorn


The bijou burns again UCA: Cape Town


A Legacy of Men Johannesburg Art Gallery: Johannesburg Selected projects 2005–2007 blankprojects: Cape Town Love & misery BIJOU Art Studios: Cape Town (P) Greenhouse, Bell-Roberts: Laurensford, South Africa Portrait/Landscape Bell-Roberts: Laurensford, South Africa ABSA L’atelier regional finalists Art-B: Bellville & ABSA Gallery: Johannesburg Fest Rust & Vrede: Durbanville, South Africa Take it like a man blank projects: Cape Town


Paper never lies VEO: Cape Town ABSA L’atelier regional finalists Art-B: Bellville & ABSA Gallery: Johannesburg


Sex & Kultuur Queer Arts Festival AMAC: Cape Town v

[group exhibitions continued...]


LVJ+MJB XXX * Klein Karoo National Arts Festival: Oudtshoorn ABSA L’atelier regional finalists Art-B: Bellville & ABSA Gallery: Johannesburg Softserve2: Art at play National Gallery: Cape Town


Softserve Multimedia art event National Gallery: Cape Town


District Six Public Sculpture Festival* (Stellenbosch Paper Project)

[residencies] ProHelvetia/IAAB: Basel


Cité Internationale des Arts Paris, France


Greatmore Studios Woodstock, Cape Town

[awards] Overall winner: ABSA L’Atelier

[collections] IZIKO South African National Gallery, and numerous private and corporate collections.



[solo exhibitions] 2007

[selected bibliography] Breytenbach, R. 2008. ‘The black widow: Convoluted Involvement: Pierre Fouché. Pythagoras TV.’ [O]. Available: http://pythagoras-tv.ning. com/profiles/blogs/the-black-widow-convoluted Burger, F. 2008. ‘Pierre Fouché’. Art South Africa. Bell Roberts Gallery, Cape Town. Vol.7, issue 2. summer. p103. Grobler, L. 2006. Glippende Herinneringe. Die Burger. 23 November. Gurney, K. 2007. Emotional Exorcism. Art South Africa. vol.5, issue 4, winter, p56–58. Gurney, K. 2007. ‘Engendering debate: Situating a legacy of men’. In McInnes, J. (ed.) 2007. A legacy of men. Johannesburg: David Krut (Catalogue for an exhibition held at the Johannesburg Art Gallery, Johannesburg, 25 November to 14 February). p11. McInnes, J. 2006. ‘Six of the best’. The Big Issue (South Africa). Issue 105, volume 10, April. McInnes, J. (ed.) 2007. A legacy of men. Johannesburg: David Krut. (Catalogue for an exhibition held at the Johannesburg Art Gallery, Johannesburg, 25 November to 14 February). p13. Minnaar, M. 2006. ‘Fine essay on relationships’. Cape Times. 22 November. Myburg, J. 2008. ‘Onthou, besweer die afwesige’. Beeld. 22 September. p22. Pollock, L. 2010. ‘Ways of seeing – at the ORE Gallery’. Arttimes: Businessart. July 2010. p8. Pollock, L. 2010. ‘The Menippean Uprising’. South African Art Times. November 2010. p29. Pople, L. 2007. ‘L’Atelier wenner op die regte pad’. Die Burger. 1 August. p11. Saptouw, F. 2006 ‘The distance between us’. Artthrob [O]. Available: http://www.artthrob.co.za/06dec/reviews/bellroberts.html Van der Vyfer, L. 2007. ‘Vyf vrae aan Pierre Fouché’. De Kat. October: Summer. p27. Williamson, S. 2006. ‘Pierre Fouché. Artthrob [O]. Available: http:// www.artthrob.co.za/07sept/artbio.html Zaaiman, C. 2004. ‘Art at your service: D.I.E.N.S. at the KKNK’ [O]. Available: http://www.artthrob.co.za/04may/project.html vii

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