Sans titre (figurants)


small flasks, eraser,
Courtesy of the artist and Galerie Alain Gutharc

credits Marc Domage




This is an antidote. This is a poison. Both the build up and the break-down. This is all the words ever spoken and all the words ever removed. When we speak it would be powerful and dangerous if objects absorbed our voices, the things that we say. The pillow you whisper into while you sleep could be stolen by enemies. Our telephones might become radioactive with language. Would Gandhi’s mouthpiece exude the inspiring equanimity of the man? Would a banker’s echo with imperious greed? The servant’s with servility (or perhaps secret revolution)?

Death might hollow out the trunk, but the tree can live on. Erasure is closer to the end than death, but even erasure leaves a lacuna, a stain, not even Rauschenberg could fully disappear a de Kooning. Disappearances leave traces. This is the end of all stories, of all lives, these traces. The word “disappearance” has absorbed the emotions of its speakers, the actions they utter.  I can’t say the word without a host of lost souls and political casualties whispering in its shadows. Their specters hiss at the end of the first syllable and leave behind a wet stain in roll of the last.

Things can be altered even by words. Even words are things. Ink and graphite has not such memory, but in the space where there is presence, there is absence. The eraser bears the sin of the erasure. They have memory of a different kind.

Estefanía Peñafiel Loaizahas saved in this small jars the corpses of used up erasers, soaked with disappearance, marked but mute, arranged like specimens or spices.

These are monuments and memorials to both correction and deletion. The urge towards success, clarity, maybe morality, as well as failure, destruction, and perhaps crime. Here is a monument to human striving and human failure. To whatever utopia or fear led to the erasure, to all the things and people rubbed out.

Even in this, these words you’re reading, I have erased so much, struggled and deleted and fingered again the keyboard. Creation and destruction and creation, over and over. With a flick of my wrist you’ve lost secret thoughts, feints and flounderings, typos and mistakes: syntactical, grammatical, and spiritual. But even here, the ghosts of all my failings are folded in. And all the failings not even on this page, but on thousands of pages elsewhere. Here is every brokehearted loveletter. Here is every low-graded term paper. Here is every uninspired cliche and fearful, lazy sentence. Here even is every unspoken word. Every keystroke holds the sum total of all the experiences, ecstatic and disgraceful, right up to it. Nothing ever truly disappears.

Some revolutionaries lead their people toward the horror of a Year Zero. Many criminals deserve a blank slate. When given carte blanche, the illusory license to create unfettered and destroy without consequence, my heart thrills with dread.