Catherine Bodmer


Excerpts from text published in exhibition brochure for Échantillons, Plein Sud - centre d'exposition en art actuel à Longueuil, 2003

Sisyphus - opinions differ as to the reasons why he became the futile labourer of the underworld. Why his whole being is exerted toward accomplishing nothing.

She rolls up, she unrolls, she rolls up, she unrolls -- it is a piece of lint. Or rather pieces of lint gathered into a small rectangle extracted from the lint tray found in most domestic dryers. It is in the lint tray that the excluded, fallen off “fluff” of clothes accumulates. She too has her accumulations. An ever-growing pile of these varied coloured rectangular lint pieces; donations from friends. She rolls one up, and then she rolls up another and another. She unrolls one. No conscious goal, only the repetition of a gesture that brings into existence “no thing”.


She collects, cuts, accumulates, rolls, unrolls, lays out, discovers, separates, arranges, brings together. She does this with care, with attention, the fabric swathes are beautiful, like cross sections of exposed earth, exposed time, the stratums visible, touchable. Then she takes her scissors and cuts. Is there a search for meaning or a refusal, a loss of meaning? She gathers, then divides, a process of creation and loss, a making and unmaking, a series of actions directed … where? Push the rock up the hill, a punishment from the gods…


And it is such a soft dusty fragile piece of nothing. The flaked off, fallen off, the expelled. A mangled tangled mess of interrelated yet separate bits of stuff from this and that cloth belonging to this and that person. It collects, layer upon layer into this container that holds, gives form, it is a conglomerate of matter from a process that is partly discursive, the left over from a dictum of purification. The removal of any trace of the personal to re-render clothes “as if” unsoiled, unworn. Eliminating individual smell, folds and creases, turning this cloth back into a neutral object that covers over the imperfections of the body. Getting the unwanted out. If

I see, smell, touch no trace can I be sure that something really happened here, that I am really here? Under the over-all light of the neon I am washed away, washed over, dissolving into an ephemeral nothingness. Disappearing, it disappears, washed clean, washed out, gone. Is there any authentic I, do I have a secret place, where is my intimate, or is that too a construct, a schema of impulses, obsessions? Was it ever there or is “I” too an empty sign, a castaway. I cannot hold it. Extract -- to pull or draw out, extract oneself from the mass, find the singularity, find the colour. . . .


Neon lights, systems of transformation. Traces of the personal lost and found. Closed structures opened, emptied signs of an ongoing never-ending process. A temporary relation of a gathered ephemeral arrangement. And although neon does not point, and lint does not give back the washed out intimacy of my body, for this brief moment in time c.b. holds it. She holds it for long enough that I too can see. I can see my dissolution into a vast impersonal network, and I can see my discarded, left-over stubborn remains. That which will not go away, that which persists, and that which holds a certain fascination, a certain irrevocable beauty.

Sisyphus has no choice, he performs his punishment. And yet there is the return, the walk back down the hill, the interval between, he must at least be conscious of that, the interval between.