Julie Sas

Julie Sas, Also Known as, a situation, Centre d'art contemporain Genève, 2016, ©Etienne Chosson

Silent Red Alert: Speculative Materials on Anonymity

How to disappear, how to be opaque, disembodied, unauthentic, how to ‘escape the face’, how to expropriate yourself, your name, your identity, how to be approached only by peripheries, how to think, live and act in a speculative mode, how to fantasize, how to turn yourself into a conceptual character, how to speak silently, how to speak saying nothing, how to drop out, how to be discreet, how to create non-spaces and horizontal societies, how to exhibit ?

How to escape the regimes of visibilities at stake in our contemporary societies? What would be a potential and critical subtractive way of thinking and acting, in a world where everything is cumulative and subject to value-creation ? How to quit the order of the self-exhibition and generalized surveillance, to exist elsewhere and differently?

This study intends to analyze some modes of existence and appearance that have the particularity of problematizing the subjectification processes that derive from our relationship to apparatus. 
Anonymity, invisibility, disappearance, avoidance, secrecy or silence can then be seen as possible ethics and positions, ways of resistance to a contemporary paradigm that claims to merge being and appearing on the one hand, value and visibility on the other.

Relying on a heterogeneous corpus of artists, authors, musicians, activists, collectives or even fictional characters – such as The Man Without Qualities (Robert Musil), An Evening With Mr. Teste (Paul Valery), The Residents, The Anonymous, Philippe Thomas, Lee Lozano, Michel Foucault, Le Comité Invisible, the Guerrilla Girls,… – this investigation approaches open forms of anonymity, invisibility or retreats, which overlap different strategies, ways of living and acting, and modes of enunciation. Thus, if anonymity, in the context of this study, can concern the concrete or symbolic effects of disappearance, invisibility, avoidance, or alteration of identity, it can also refer to language operations that denote a radicalized use of language data, taking charge of the invisible, or social and political practices aiming at the invention of a new ethic, new forms of activism and a redefinition of the collective. Another focus of research involves a reflection on the form of the exhibition in the field of the arts, which, when apprehended in all its polysemy, seems to open certain theoretical and practical perspectives for new modes of visibility and implementations of contemporary art.

This investigation intends, in the end, to elaborate a sort of ‘theory of obscurity’, implying the making of a heterogeneous corpus of works: formal and conceptual experimentations, but also the writing of a theory-speculative fiction, articulated around anonymous figures and voices, directly inspired from this study, whose identities are ‘slippery’.

(Text: Julie Sas)

Julie SAS is a French artist based in Paris. In her practice she combines installations, writing, performance and collaborative projects, in which she organizes spaces and situations around plays on meanings, norms and identities that demonstrate a tension with certain linguistic or social data. Sas’ recent live installations present bodies involved in codified situations, particularly those linked to the production of public discourse, forms of self-representation, and quotation exercises. Those have led her to start developing long-time research and experimentation on the practice of anonymity and forms of invisibility in art, literature and musical fields.
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