Executing the line / by Nicola Chalmers

"As soon as Kafka took his pen in his right hand, his left hand jumped on it (on his right) and the combat raged." Hélène Cixous

   
  
   
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  Helena Almeida, Desenho (Drawing) 1999

Helena Almeida, Desenho (Drawing) 1999

 Helena Almeida, Desenho (Drawing) 1999

Helena Almeida, Desenho (Drawing) 1999

Hélène Cixous and Helena Almeida are the subjects of today's work. Whilst I'm familiar with their work individually - the writer and the visual artist - it hadn't occurred to me before that there are such vivid traces of the one in the other; now I'm looking at them through the lens of a short film I'm making. The film is about what Cixous would describe as the “[mingled] acts of birth, potency and impotency” that drive any form of creating. It’s about the ‘wrath’ of the studio and the studio as sanctuary; about the exhaustion, shame and euphoria of submitting to the suddenly-here-now; and the bodily, very bodily sense that in the end – even at the risk of making a terrible mistake – something does need to be birthed. A birth akin to an execution. The execution of a line. The execution of outline. The disappearance of the artist into the artwork and vice-versa; the idea that as one hand performs, the other is already engaged in the performance. For me, Cixous and Almeida’s work both exemplifies and exonerates these anxiety-ridden subjects; they are permission-granters.  

“Even if there is a landscape, a person, there outside… it’s from the body that the drawing… rises to the light of day. First it exists at the torment state in the chest, under the waist. See it now as it precipitates itself in spasms, in waves, the length of the arm, passing the hand, passing the pen.” Hélène Cixous

Quotes from 'Stigmata', "Without End — no — State of Drawingness — no, rather: The Executioner’s Taking off"