Hermès, bras levés, by Sophie Boursat

5 Sep 2017

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HERMÈS, upraised arms.

Your arms are raised in sign of victory. Immobile bolide, you block a light that has crossed that time that has no name to reach you and you know it. Hermès, upraised arms, you were long hidden until men found you again. Object steeped in men, in their lives and in their nights, you know many stories. They told you some, Hestia, when you were having pride of place on them, and even more, given the prayers, those Greeks blended with Egyptians, those city-dwellers and those landowners.

Sophie Boursat
Alexandria, November 1992
Water and Oil, 2003

English translation by Frederique Destribats

In a 1922 survey by Alfred Stieglitz regarding the status of photography as a form of art, Marcel Duchamp famously answered: “You know exactly how I feel about photography. I would like to see it make people despise painting until something else will make photography unbearable. There we are.”

Early digger into Duchamp’s somewhat irreverent answer to Stiglitz, while using any tools, Sophie Boursat questioned photography from its borders. She was awarded various grants, such as Madrid’s Casa de Velazquez residency and the Ministry of Culture and Foreign Affairs’, among others. She exhibited regularly from 1983 up to the turn of the century (Galerie Donguy, Aline Vidal and Centre Georges Pompidou). In 2003 she published her first novel, L’Eau et l’Huile, a Mediterranean initiatory journey across different cultures and religions in search of reconciliation with her eclectic origins and notions of ‘the other’.

In a conversation via email she explains that her relation with writing has a lot to do with ‘the rescue of the invisible, the nonphotographic, the interface which is the embodiment of life of the mind within reality, but also the banality and the surge of psychism, of hallucinations, the surge of a story just to survive’. She also reveals a few elements of her forthcoming book, admitting that she has become, more and more, a writer: ‘the book is about my experiences as a psychic. Voices travel non stop, as in L’Eau et l’Huile, crossing all states of reality, banality, fantasy, miraculousness, murder, wilderness. It has a lot to do with the crowd as well and it’s very rythmic, almost pure sound, telephone noise, nets…’

When we met in Paris a year ago she showed me her gem of a sketchbook, Omnia Sunt Plena Jovis (All Things Are In Jupiter), which she started around 1987 and, needless to say, deserves to be published as soon as possible. It contains incredible watercolours of cameras – and the sketchbook itself is almost the size of a camera. I think Saul Leiter might have liked it.

Federica Chiocchetti