Forde is pleased to invite you to the opening of Arcana, the first solo exhibition of the artist Ye Xe. Forde is open of Fridays and Saturdays from 4pm to 8pm and by appointment (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Bones, dice, dusks, flowers, hazards…
Around two million years ago… telltale cut marks on the surface of animal bones reveal that early humans were using crude stone tools to smash open bones and extract marrow. As they weren’t efficient enough hunters, Homo habilis individuals probably scavenged leftovers from large, rotting corpses of other animals, attracted from afar by circling vultures. The sucked out shots of bone marrow — long chain fatty acids that prove excellent for brain growth — might have, as one theory goes, helped develop the oh-so-developed brains of Sapiens sapiens.
The tools involved in this feast were sharpened stones, i.e. core stones broken up and sharpened with the help of harder and heavier hammer stones. If one sits back and takes a deep breath… there isn’t much that differentiates these bone-crushing tools from electric cars, quantum processors and food delivering apps on new gen smartphones.
Thank Gods, though, parallel theories on the origins of human thought don’t involve that much technological scavenging of the dead. Some Sapiens believe the exceptional brain growth of Habilis was triggered by the immoderate consumption of psilocybes; others, by spells written in books; the retroactive effect of prophetic games; a master plan, hidden in the depths of universal intelligence or the CIA’s encrypted instagram posts; nudes from restless extraterrestrials; wild multiple orgasms in timeless wormholes; an infinity of mind-blowing encounters with the divine marrow.
The gambler’s lament is one of the hymns of the Rigveda (~3500 — 2900 years back) which does not have any direct cultic or religious context. It comprises a monologue of a repentant gamester who laments the ruin brought on him because of addiction to dice. Sung, the poem might have been used as a spell to ensure one’s victory in a game. The gambling dice (akșa), mentioned in the text as the brown ones, were described as hot, deceptive, burning, and were made from nuts of Terminalia bellirica (Vibhīdaka). They had four scoring sides: kŗta (four), tretā (trey), dvāpar (deuce), kali (ace). According to a range of Hindu beliefs and Western followers, we live nowadays in the age of Kali Yuga, or the depraved era where human civilization spiritually degenerates. The lengthy decadent epoch takes its name from the demon Kali (not to be confused with goddess Kālī), etymologically associating our present dog days with the ace of the four-sided die. Fortunately, Kali Yuga is expected to end in the year 428’899 CE.
The sum of two opposite sides of a true, traditional six-sided gaming die is always seven. 1 + 6, 2 + 5, 3 + 4. Many Christians speculate that the number 777 represents holiness in contrast to the terror-inducing 666. 777 is associated with introspection, supernatural phenomena, creative self-expression. 777 helps you understand life and death when it’s around you. 7 alone is a number that plays you when you play it. People usually encounter the number 777 on the floors of casinos around the world. Slot machines use the number combination to signify a winning spin and to entertain the feeling of luck of the player. According to casino website 777.com, Japanese slot machines are more likely to produce the 777 combination due to the computer chips managing the system. Moreover, after a terrible loss on such a machine, it is believed that the chances of winning big amounts of cash are higher; the humans who roam through the dark slot machine alleys of casinos trailing such events and foraging for the blued blood of losers (a forbidden practice) are known as hyenas.
Do dead gods play dice? Or do they get stoned and suck each other’s marrow in the bardo? Are the spirits betting on you?
Knick-knack paddywhack, give a dog a bone (bone)
Get some guap guap get some chicken,
guap guap get some bread
Guap guap get some chicken,
guap guap get some bread
In a radiant branch of Bluets, writer Maggie Nelson claims it’s calming (for her) to think of blue as the color of death. She further develops: « I have long imagined death’s approach as the swell of a wave —
a towering wall of blue. You will drown, the world tells me, has always told me. You will descend into a blue underworld, blue with hungry ghosts, Krishna blue, the blue faces of the ones you loved. They all drowned, too. To take a breath of water: does the thought panic or excite you? »
In a haunting 1983 painting by Martin Wong, one reads, written in American sign language and in capital Roman letters above stretched out, gold-colored constellations (Andromeda, Pisces, Pegasus): everything must go.
In haunting 2019 paintings by Ariane Müller, portraits of dressed-up human skeletons appear thinking away, mumbling spells perhaps, betting on the heads of brainy visitors, side by side.
In a haunted untitled sculpture by Ye Xe from last year, a skeletal, metallic form of a chair oscillates calmly between a sordid instrument of torture and a scatophilic lust device. Abandoned under the structure, a half-burned Swedish candle reminds one of bitter northern winter nights and the warmth of human breath one desperately tries to recollect.
In an interview with the band AR Kane, a young music journalist interrogates members Alex Ayuli and Rudy Tambala:
« If it all comes from the subconscious, is [art] a kind of therapy for you? »
« It’s more like elimination, waste products being expelled. »
« It’s not therapy unless it’s conscious and clinically undergone. Otherwise, it’s just sublimation. Which is just as valid. »
الزهر, or al-zahr, az-zahr, in Arabic, means blossom, or flower, often the flower or blossom of a citrus tree. It also means dice, and luck. Some say that traveling through the Iberian peninsula, a small die made of bone, perhaps a mammal’s astragalus (anklebone), used for board games and bets and easy to tuck in a pocket, had one of its sides marked with a flower. The side with the flower indicated good fortune. As throwing a die never abolishes uncertainty, the Spanish added two words to their vocabulary: azahar (orange blossom) and azar, meaning randomness, close to the Latin alea. Hence the dreamy French hasard and the English paranoid translation, hazard.
Similarly to gambling, however, language (s)tripping and tongue (t)easing never represent exact sciences and humans seem to absurdly enjoy marking their cards with their own (s)cent: odd academic etymology-diggers affirm that hazard comes from the Greek αζάριον (azarion), from οζάριον (ozarion), i.e. small όζος (ozos), or small bones. Compare with the French osselets, an ancient Mediterranean bone game. Or with the death-announcing birds the French poets once loved, the orfraies (from ossifragus: that which breaks the bones).
Words, paintings, pictures, playing cards, dice, bodies, human thoughts… it feels so heavenly to skin them, crack them, suck out the bonus of their greasy adamantine insides, releasing again and again the voiceless phantoms that have always played us. Unbraining, prostrating, haphazarding. There is abyssal eroticism in scavenging for the unknown. In fact, we’re better off down here beheading interpretation.
Blue, everything goes crazy
Blue, everything goes crazy
Blue, everything goes…
Varun for Ye and for Forde
Exhibition from 12.03.2021 to 07.05.2021
Rue de la Coulouvrenière 11