The Infancy of Words
Anne Marie Jugnet’s photographs, as well as her drawings on paper or on a wall, are never merely photographs or drawings of a word, a sentence fragment or a question: “Loin de tout” [Far away from everything], “Pour rien” [For naught], “C’est impossible” [It is impossible]. Each of these expressions is meant to guide the viewer’s mind “towards more verbal regions,” to quote Duchamp. They are supposed to spark a swirl of questions: who is speaking, from where and about what? This is due to their very particular nature: in a linguistic sense, they are neither enunciations referring to a specific speaker, nor are they affirmative propositions; instead, these sentence fragments have lost their textual context and float in an indefinite verbal space that precedes language. It is a pure linguistic space that is obtuse, almost pre-verbal, like that of a child experiencing them for the first time. In “Pour rien” [For naught], the words are literally floating on water that could carry them away or in “C’est impossible” [It is impossible] they float on a black surface that masks their slight flickering.
Obviously, this art is much more than can be confined within the logic of conceptual art – like that of Robert Barry’s recent works, for example. Instead, Jugnet’s works give rise to a personal experience in which words are experienced as visual objects and as meaningful objects. Infancy is the period in life when words are tested outside of language, one at a time in speech and simply as pleasant objects. Anne Marie Jugnet’s work extends this experience: it is a work of mourning, of years of apprenticeship to the disappearance of words, of their transformation into something positive, that can never again be simply contemplated.
Translated by Jane McDonald