Anne-Marie Jugnet

Galerie Froment et Putman

Anne-Marie Jugnet’s most recent exhibition consisted of simple works that seemed to take over the space of the gallery though they were physically unimposing. It was not only that here she used color, where normally she works in black and white, but that in the background blinked a small red neon sign that spelled inouï (“unheard of”). While this last piece was of modest size and, above all silent, Jugnet plays on the fact that this word contains another word that refers to sound: l’ouie (hearing). What is unheard of is something extraordinary that invades and spreads out—something that has dimension.

Because the work is presented on a large table on trestles you are led to expect a unique event. The word “emergency” is composed of 48 piles of letter-size poster paper each of which comprises 500 surfaces, 500 copies of the silk-screened word alternating between a positive image (orange letters on gray background) and a negative image (gray letters on an orange background). The alternating colors reference the kinds of signs that punctuate urban life. “Emergency” is a signal sent in English, a means of conveying urgency, but also an exaggerated warning in a society where conflicts and new plagues constantly erupt, then fade into oblivion, in the flickering image of the television screen.

This work of Jugnet’s will take on different meanings depending on the geographic, social, ideological, and political context of where it is shown. Jugnet reminds us that we are living in the age of emergency. Images and information exist only in the precariousness of their appearance, always ready to be replaced by other ones, by another layer.

Sold layer by layer, Emergency, 1994, is carried off in envelopes, disseminated among the people who acquire each piece. This is a work that comes into existence through appropriation: each of the layers removed from the table may be reinstalled in any one of various ways (on the wall, on the ground, on a table, etc.). Emergency insists, in an almost tautological manner, on the esthetic of the fragment, on the “opus” as a succession of fragments that structure the work. Moreover, Jugnet’s work can only be perceived segment by segment—page by page. Not only is each surface fragmented in to 48 reams of paper that spell out the word “emergency,” but each surface of the word is one of 500 units. Here, Jugnet refers to a social dimension, to the individual as a fragment of the whole. Each layer, like the word itself, will have a different influence on the one who appropriates it. In this way, Jugnet stresses the fact that all possible developments are to be found within each fragment—the fragment as totality. Within each word reside all other words in a kind of metonymic chain. Each layer is a work within the Work, a possible starting point, a metaphor for the work that always says “beginning,” the work, also, as duration.

Jérôme Sans

Translated from the French by Warren Niesluchowski.