Z is for ZigZag — Éric Mangion – 2018

This text was written for the book ABC B.A. published in 2018 by Dent-de-Leone and distributed by Les presses du réel. This monograph is composed of a collection of texts and critical essays in the form of a abc-book. Based on key words, twelve art critics, curators or writers wrote a text commenting on Boris Achour’s work. The book also includes an iconographic collection offering an overview of the artist’s work.


Z is for ZigZag
NB: All paragraphs enclosed in inverted commas are quotations from Boris Achour, taken from various interviews with Sophie Lapalu, François Piron and Éric Mangion. The other sections were written by Éric Mangion.


“When I say that ‘each exhibition was a unique proposition’, it was also true for the works themselves. There was a fierce desire on my part to avoid producing an easily recognizable ‘style’, or a ‘subject’ on which I might have worked. I considered the very notions of unity, ‘style’ and ‘theme’ in work as concessions to the way the work might be received, both commercially and critically. It was a naive idea, a sort of purist teenage reaction: rejecting the rules of a particular milieu (whether they really existed, wholly or partially, or I had dreamed them up). The last (?) reason why I worked like that is perhaps less serious, more ‘neutral’ (I mean less emotionally or intentionally charged). You could call it a kind of curiosity, a desire to have a go at everything, handle all the media and forms, to juggle different, even contradictory, ideas without worrying about being coherent. It was a fairly intuitive, unfettered way of coming to terms with artistic practice.”

Use elementary forms (geometric, graphic or algebraic) as “marks and vehicles” of the dissemination of knowledge. These signs can be an ideal geometric modelling of the world in its most rational form. But this same quest for simple, clear-cut forms has, paradoxically, coincided with the emergence of the positivist modernity of today and a whole set of magical and esoteric practices that are far removed from any rational view of the world.

Create unusual forms but without using them to challenge the dominant aesthetic canons, thereby trying to challenge the dominant dichotomies: functionality/ornamentation, curves/right angles, transparency/opacity, nature/artifice, sensuality/reason, subject/object, thought/poetry. Kitsch, as a value, would not be inimical to modernity; it would be consubstantial, like a cursed, or at least hidden, part of it. The same applies to the representation of ruin, which represents both the paragon of construction (of form and thought) and its inevitable decline.

Address artistic propositions that are both conceivable and inconceivable, situations where observation destroys observation. A thing can happen and be a total lie, another thing not happen and be truer than true.

The encyclopaedia of useless inventions will be the most luxurious of all encyclopaedias, a monument to the tireless labours of men. A victory of incompleteness over sufficiency. Neologisms à la Thomas Brown: bombilation, colliquation or corticose. Divided into several chapters: household, social, sports, professional, gardening, automotive, intimacy, health and games. Each chapter will be divided into indexes, each index into indications or clues. The preface to be written by Richard Sennett himself. It will break all sales records for the Bible and the Quran combined, even for pulp fiction. Within two weeks of issue it will top the best-seller lists. An unprecedented success. Everybody will start producing their own encyclopaedia: groups of young neo-pataphysicists, admirers of Oulipo, Burmese seminarists, Somali Berbers. A Tamil genius will be appointed editor-in-chief, and will receive an abundance of praise.

Translation: Jeremy Harrison