“CONCRETION” (Letter to Frédéric)

Dear Frédéric,

I’m writing to tell you with these few sentences what I want to do at your place, at Le Creux de l’Enfer. I mean: what I want to do, I do not say that I will be able to do it or that the result will reflect my will. I want to make “CONCRETION”. I want to make an exhibition with several works, a score of works, which is sometimes a work alone, sometimes a series of works, and which all, all follow the same theme: “CONCRETION”.

This work alone or these series, I will name them here: 1. “A Swarm of Images”, 2. “4 Chandeliers”, 3. “Jumbo Resonance Chamber”, 4. “4 Resonance Chambers”, 5. “Embedded Fetish”, 6. “Pile of Stones with Images”, 7. “Wood Connected Heads”, 8. “Wood Connected Mannequins”, 9. “Headshot Heads”, 10. “Mannequins with Nails and Screws”, 11. “Tables with Nails”, 12. “Table with Hands Filled with Stones”, 13. “The Stoning Table”, 14. “Heads with Outgrowths”, 15. “Mannequins with Outgrowths”, 16. “Mannequin with Broad Big Outgrowth”, 17. “Table with Stones with Outgrowths”, 18. “Pendulums With Outgrowths”, 19. “Outgrowths on 2 Staircases”, 20 “Real Outgrowths”.

I want to give shape to the medical or geological expression “CONCRETION”, I want to give shape to what interests me in this term, today: hardening. The hardening of the world in which I live. This hardening of the world comes from the hardening of each one among us; this hardening comes from the interior, it comes from me, I harden, I am hardening. Hardening is self-produced. Hardening is a problem, a tumor, a cancer, an uncontrollable disease. Hardening nourishes itself. And hardening is sufficient to itself. This hardening creates shapes, knots and deposits. These forms interest me. What also interests me is that these forms exist in nature, in geology, in medicine. These forms are to some extent “natural”, as the human condition is “natural”. But this ” nature” does not mean coming from nature but having its own law,
following its own logic, being autonomous. It is in the nature of the things themselves. Good or bad, positive or negative, but autonomous and self produced. I want to use the natural pretext in the very theme of “CONCRETION” to give shape to what seems to be human: the need to clash with the other, to make an enemy, to fight against the other. But that is only the pretext “CONCRETION” because the battle, which should be carried out, is the battle against oneself. To fight against oneself and
to fight oneself. This is “CONCRETION”. This is what I strive for, through the work “CONCRETION”, to give shape. I am the problem; it is inside of myself, of each of us. It is not the world that surrounds us, which poses a problem. I am the one who poses a problem, which is problematic. I am the one who is uncontrollable, I am the one who is hardening and it is I who makes deposits and knots. Through the score of works of the exhibition “CONCRETION” I want to confront this vision as directly and firmly as possible. “CONCRETION” is neither an illustration of a “medical concretion”, nor of a “geological concretion” or of a “human concretion” (Jean Arp). I want to make hard, real “CONCRETION”. I want to make “CONCRETION” with all its plastic, visual power; practical, uncontrollable, inevitable and worrying. It is “CONCRETION” which is  aimed at me, against me and at my interior self. I now want to describe some principal formal elements that will be used as a “lines of force” to give shape to the twenty different works or series of works enumerated at the beginning.

Images of wounds: These images, more than showing the horror of current affairs are the images of wounds themselves. There is no victim and there is no torturer. Each wound is also mine; each wound is that of whoever looks at it. There is no escape, there is no reason, and there is no excuse. They are wounds of each one of us. They should be born, they should be carried and they should be looked at.

Outgrowths: These forms, simple and ignorant, are forms that grow from something else. On skin but also on stone. Outgrowths cannot create,
grow, or increase without home ground, space or foundations. Outgrowths “grow” on something. Like concretion in nature, the form in my idea of “CONCRETION” requires a ground base or a plastic nesting space “to grow” but its existence is not natural, it is both resistance and assertion.

Nails and Screws: In the Mannequins and the Mannequin heads, the “Nails,” don’t “grow” on something, they penetrate something. The Nails and Screws that I place are not only fetishes to entreat doom or Nails and Screws marking a passage. Nails and Screws are not only Nails such as healing acupuncture needles or Nails of a diabolic bomb explosion that are blasted in a body. Nails and Screws are themselves

“CONCRETION,” the hardening which is in me – and which comes from me against me.

The purpose of Swarm of Images is to render hardening present in space, the spirit, and in time. For “CONCRETION” it is a Swarm of images of wounds. The images resulting from Swarm are omnipresent in the exhibition, without hierarchy, message or dynamics other than that according to the law inside of Swarm itself. A swarm changes direction as an entity and not while following one isolated element. The Swarm follows its own logic of a law based on itself.

The Mannequins are a “headless” form of my neighbor, a form that I give to the other outside myself. A Mannequin represents the smallest distance between myself and the image of another. A Mannequin is another form of me. It is a surface of projection.

Resonance Chambers are rooms of resonance to amplify. Their shape is similar to that of an “Outgrowth” but, contrary to “Outgrowths,” they possess an opening. I want to give shape; I want to give importance and depth to something – to a wound. I want to give another dimension, to break the scale by thus making reference to another thing that is the wound itself.

The Candlesticks are the nonreligious shapes of worship of their own wounds. A form of contemplation facing that that escapes me, and a test to overcome them by their celebration.

The Stones of “CONCRETION” are an explicit form; I use them for their own hardness. But I also want to use their rich capacity of evocation (from construction material to the punishment of stoning). I also want to use the stones to anchor my work “CONCRETION” in this place of stones, of the Creux de l’Enfer, Hell’s hollow (the cliff, the brook). I use stone as an elemental matter and in same time I want to insist on the universality of this matter, the universality of all stones. The stone “neither pacific nor active” bears the capacity of “CONCRETION.”

The stone is the universal element of this exhibition. It is this universal “lay-down” which will be the universal element of hope in the exhibition “CONCRETION.”
Here, in a few words, my “lines of force” for this project. I have written these sentences to communicate my exhibition to you, but I began working some time ago, and the forms have been in my mind for a long while. The process of my work in general appears to me as a concretion, something that I don’t control, which follows its own intentions, that I cannot describe, and which is not a theory either. It is something for which I only know that I need to give shape.

Thomas Hirschhorn, April 2006