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Text by Philippe Hunt, philosopher

Imagine a somewhat eerie archive. The (erstwhile) archive of an Interior Ministry - an Interior Ministry, of all places ! And within that spectral space Werther Gasperini has carved an uncannier, labyrinthine area. Not everyone will manage to find it. First a rather narrow corridor, one that seems narrow, where you have to tread your way between bottles, bottles with unread messages in them.
Those bottles, addressed to no-one, in which Paul Celan saw the essence of poetry. A turn to the right, and you enter the main area.
The sea isn’t blue here, but some murky shade of brown. And we are faced with a total work of art, smelly, thumping, writerly as well as visual. Or rather, we are surrounded by it, as we walk gingerly on thin boards, all around a raft. Fully expecting to fall into the mire.
No spectators here, no mastery of the gaze, we are penned in, our place prescribed between the raft in the centre and the breathing cases and tramping boots surrounding us, moving as though they (commodities, parts of bodies) were the only living beings here. A mechanical life. One that is imprinted on us, as we read, as we are incapable of reading the names written on the mast, on boards — those names that mostly remain unread, as the messages in the bottles are mostly unread.

Werther Gasperini’s installation is no cobbled-up bricolage of odds and ends: it is an implacable machine, a perfect théâtre de la cruauté.
It is so powerful, indeed overwhelming, it is so forcefully inscribed in our skin, our eyes, our noses, our ears that we cannot go on being the usual benign uncommitted consumers of ‘interesting’ art. As we leave the labyrinth (not very quickly: there is a fascination here), we carry the raft with us, it is our raft, those people, dead or alive, fleeing man-made disasters in Syria or elsewhere, disasters with which we are complicit, are with us now, we cannot leave them behind. This ‘radeau de la méduse’ has left us ‘médusés’, dumfounded.
Order of the day: in other words, agenda, ‘those things which have to be done’. Where: mare nostrum, our sea, the sea to which we belong, a sea that is rising everywhere. When? Now.



Exhibition Ministère d'Affaires Intérieures

Bruxelles 2016


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