Explaining contemporary art to live eels

Explaining contemporary art to live eels belongs to an ongoing performative project in which guest speakers are invited to explain contemporary art to eels that are later released back into-the-wild. The work addresses issues related to transmission, diffusion, sending, receiving and not-knowing. Edition number four was commissioned by CAPC Museum of Contemporary Art, Bordeaux in 2008 and other editions were presented at Villa Arson, Nice and at La Panacée, Montpellier commissioned by curator and art historian Sébastien Pluot in the context of his research project In translation and related exhibitions.

In this installation the aquatic environment of Explaining contemporary art to live eels does not host the performative event but is reconfigured as an archival space where manifold affects from past performances are displayed together. Live eels are now exchanged with a copper sculpture, There is no simulation, in a sense a facsimile of a live eel, commissioned and produced by Villa Croce and cast at the Fonderia Artistica Battaglia in Milan.

“The problem is not that I am or have become a use-value, the question is ‘Can I show you what my use-value is?’”
“Even as he (Freud) strived for psychoanalysis to attain a certain level of respectability, Sigmund Freud was struggling against his attraction to telepathy. Ernest Jones, his collaborator in London, warned him against this occult practice, as it could bring harm to psychoanalysis. To this Freud replied that his belief in telepathy, just as his taste for tobacco and his Jewishness, remained strictly personal business. As if the personal affairs of Freud had no relationship to psychoanalysis. Telepathy would help make immediate contact with the other without passing through language. Language being nevertheless the condition of analytic treatment and the guarantee of an intersubjective relationship, Freud took the risk of both contradicting himself and imagining a state of telepathic fusion between the subjects. It’s a situation where the Other (including the Other in its absolute difference: the animal), could stop being an other and become a self. Both paradoxes have in common that they reveal conflicting relationships between theoretical constructs and the repressed desires that are impeding them. They also highlight the constraints that oppose the need to recognise difference.”- Sébastien Pluot