Note: If you see this text you use a browser which does not support usual Web-standards. Therefore the design of Media Art Net will not display correctly. Contents are nevertheless provided. For greatest possible comfort and full functionality you should use one of the recommended browsers.

Themesicon: navigation pathArt and Cinematographyicon: navigation pathBroodthaers

icon: previous page

made present through this gesture but he does not assume an affirmative presence in the process. Nothing is declared except the act itself or, at the very least, the exact content of this act remains undetermined. The book-object appears to be offered as evidence in the court of history, yet no final judgment is passed. What this proposition ultimately ‹figures› is a pure gesture of citation. The speech act is exhibited as «fig. 1«: one figure selected from a possible range of ready-made statements. However, «fig. 1«does not provide the key to break the code. Broodthaers does not invite us to engage in an hermeneutical activity of source interpretation. «Fig. 1» offers no stable referent—e.g. Sadoul’s historical thesis or signified—but becomes mobilized by Broodthaers’ gesture as an empty sign within a discursive network of exchange. In sum, the gesture might be called strategic although we have not established the exact operative terrain of this tactic. The writer has only the power «to mix writings, to counter the ones with the others, in such a way as never to rest on any one of them.» [10] As Roland Barthes insisted, the performative act is fundamentally a writerly act. The writer’s hand performs a pure


gesture of inscription that is divorced of any voice. Indeed, on closer inspection, we see that Broodthaers’ index finger is blackened as if stained by the ink of a pen. As if, but not in truth, because Broodthaers has clearly altered the image after the fact. Once more we are reminded of the performative nature of writing that «can only imitate a gesture that is always anterior, never original» [11] : a gesture, moreover, that we experience as being simultaneously comical and tragic in kind. [12]

Broodthaers’ cinema certainly resembles the intertextual nature of an écriture as theorized by Barthes. His films range across the genres of narrative, documentary and experimental film without, finally, fitting into any single category and individual films are often submitted to a process of re-combination and recycling. Yet, Barthes’ model of performativity can be taken only so far in the artists’ case. As we shall see the artist does not embrace the more utopian aspect of an écriture, which knows no other time than that of enunciation, a time, moreover, where every text is eternally written here and now. The theatrical gesture of Broodthaers, to the contrary, is not cut off from

icon: next page