Matter and Form, Self-Evidence and Surprise
On Jean-Luc Moulène's Objects
In this unique essay, first delivered as a lecture during a panel discussion with the artist and philosopher Reza Negarestani, Alain Badiou identifies and “dialecticizes” five of the artist Jean-Luc Moulène's objects with five conceptual formations from the history of Western philosophy. Aristotle's complex of matter and form is called to mind to describe the inner logic of a hard foam sculpture. A bronze statue with holes activates Plato's notion of participation of the concrete world in the “injured Idea of the Beautiful.” A small metallic and incomplete “angel” engages Leibniz's affirmation that “everything that exists is composed of an infinity of things.” Badiou's musings go on to pair a broken and repaired plastic chair with Victor Hugo; a terrible hand made of concrete with the Freudian unconscious; and a large-scale “red and blue monster” with rudimentary mechanisms of the Cartesian cogito, the famous “I think, therefore I am,” with unexpected inversions and variations.
Badiou refrains, of course, from claiming that Moulène thinks about any of these philosophers when making his specific works. What he points to, however, in this richly illustrated bilingual volume, is that the artist and his art are “on the side of philosophy.”
Sequence Press, 9780997567496, 96pp.
Publication Date: August 6, 2019
About the Author
Robin Mackay is a philosopher, Director of the UK arts organization Urbanomic, and Associate Researcher at Goldsmiths University of London.