Each one risked something and went as far as possible in taking this risk; each one drew from it an irrepressible right. What is left for the abstract thinker once she has given advice of wisdom and distinction? Well then, are we to speak always about Bousquet’s wound, about Fitzgerald’s and Lowry’s alcoholism, Nietzsche’s and Artaud’s madness while remaining on the shore? Are we to become the professionals who give talks on these topics? Are we to wish only that those who have been struck down do not abuse themselves too much? Are we take to up collections and create special journal issues? Or should we go a short way further to see for ourselves, be a little alcoholic, a little crazy, a little suicidal, a little of a guerrilla –just enough to extend the crack, but not enough to deepen it irremediably?
Gilles Deleuze, The Logic of Sense
It was French dramatist and activist Armand Gatti who first uttered the ’68 call to arms 'Sous les pavés, la plage' – 'Under the paving stones, the beach'.
In a celebration of the English translation of his book Mad Like Artaud, Sylvère Lotringer presents a dramatic reading of a central section of his book: an interview he conducted in the 1980s with Antonin Artaud’s psychiatrist at the Rodez asylum – Dr. Jacques Latrémolière – interspersed with performances and interventions by Jeremy Hardingham, Richard Crow, Mischa Twitchin, Jon Shaw and Nicola Woodham.
Lotringer, traveling from post-punk New York to rural France to interview Artaud’s former doctors in 1983, spins a sort of schizoanalytic docufiction around a literary controversy, heading upriver 'Heart of Darkness'-like, picking up the threads of Artaud’s delirium among all those it touched and aiming straight at the event of electroshock itself: was it crucifixion or cure, for Artaud? Lotringer doesn’t need to answer this question; what counts, for him, is to raise it in the most unsettling way possible, as a means of gaining passage through the eye of what is referred to as the 'Artaud Affair', where literature and delirium flow as if from the same source.
‘Electroconvulsive Lit’, John Kelsey, Texte Zur Kunst, December 2015
This event is curated by Katherine Waugh and organised in conjunction with the UK premiere of Lotringer’s film on Artaud The Man Who Disappeared (followed by a discussion) at the Institut Francais on Thursday 26 May 2016.
Sylvère Lotringer, a literary critic and cultural theorist, is professor emeritus of French literature and philosophy at Columbia University and Jean Baudrillard Chair at the European Graduate School. As the founder of the independent press Semiotext(e), he was instrumental in introducing French theory to the United States.More