Clement Kamena


The likelihood that a work by Diego Velasquez and another by Andy Warhol should materialize in the same object (a jar) would seem highly remote.
And if it is true that truth is one, that the plausible is plural, and that the false is infinite, then the reasons for bringing the works together are neither urgent nor necessary, unless the mixing of these foundational elements strikes a spark of wit as volatile and decisive as a dab of watercolor, is restored its rights. A word can occasion laughter if it brings together the Wedding at Cana and green peas.
The word we have chosen is "CONSERVATION," because the term suggests both the museum case and the grocery store shelf. We decided to paint the word. The gap between word and image is so quickly crossed that it becomes evidence itself.

Depicting words—jar, conservation, painting—in the language of illusion becomes our chosen task. We ourselves become conservators. Metaphors leap from our paintbrushes. Actors come to us from Fayum and Long Island in the 1950s. Their history is not linear, the archives crowd against each other in these transparent cells, the displays are painted with the care that this playful anthology requires.
The selection of works may not be exhaustive, but it allows a newly born star to enter into proximity with a star that has long shined in a gallery of the Uffizzi or the Louvre.

We made the decision to appropriate all paintings, drawings, and other productions of art for the game. Naturally, this requires us to organize our browsing among the works to which we give our greatest admiration, as opposed to those which, due to their recent celebrity, come crashing into the firmament of today's stars.
An astrophysicist has posited that of the theses, articles, and bulletins presently held in esteem by the scientific community, the chance for most of being judged lasting by an observer from the future is the same as that of a typographer throwing his tray of type into the air and having it fall so as to spell out a tragedy by Shakespeare.
Far be it from us to make any claims about the future.

The scale of the task seems huge to us. We decided to compress the first images, and we started the project with small Jars .
In tandem with the act of placing the images in jars—which includes making a representation of a painting, a representation of the jar, and deforming the image to insert it behind the glass—is the illusion of producing something that could contain all visual images. The size of the actual works cannot be gauged. Reduced to the size of a glass cylinder, frescoes, paintings, and details assume a new scale: that given to them by the eye of the spectator. The work's dimension is simply a poetic dimension.

Each painting thus depicted is not a pastiche of the original work but our perception of its appearance through reproductions. It is a direct visual experience of its cultural radiance.
Our work of appropriation and visual quotation starts with the placement of the painting in its jar and the placement of the jar in its space at a distance from those that have already been made. By placing them one next to the other, we neutralize in a sense the single image. The presence of the ensemble casts each additional arrival as a player in the orchestra, in turn affecting all the others. The soloist takes a place in the choir. The introduction of a new image upsets the previous order. These confrontations open avenues of exploration, lead us to discover recurrences, similarities, and new relations that fall into alignment thanks to these groupings.
By placing two or three next to each other, by moving others away, we create a visual history that picks its path according to our choices.

The references are drawn from every period, from prehistory to contemporary times. The acceleration of art history is now part of the history itself. Works made twenty years ago or less are today enveloped in historical analysis and museum protocol, crystallized in conservation measures.
A blessing or a curse, instantaneity is at the stage where we have immediate access to images of the Sphinx and Jeff Koons’ Balloon Dog.
Chronology disappears, mutations succeed and confront each other, both on the formal and material level. Each painting in its jar, linked to all the others, enters universal time.

In this maze, an empty jar awaits the appearance of a virtual work that has not yet materialized, or displays the absence of a work that has not yet seen the light of day.
All from a metal lid screwed onto a cylinder of glass.

Serge Clement and Marina Kamena