«A woman is like a window to the unknown».
Jean-Luc Godard. Made in USA

To those who make it and those who love it, art is like a form of respiration, a form and a language. Sharing their deepest secrets, both language and respiration are based on something that is given to us and confounds us. Language has to be acquired and worked upon, just as the undiminishing breath of life: inhalation, exhalation, those moments of absence in which the breath holds, holds tight, and keeps holding up until it says“release”.

I am talking about those magic moments in which the presence of being holds tightly true, and releases itself; those magic moments where we can expand the flight of an instant in the deep of eternity.

The case for being.

Language studies, as a discipline, teaches us that the concept of being present in a particular instant unfolds various identities — various expressions — in each family of languages. The key issue, here, is the settlement of a relationship with the time embeded within our minds, something stamping the fabric of our daily experiences accordingly and, by extent, the expression/perception of life in all forms of cultures. In the case of French, for example, the verb “être” (to be) can be conjugated in a tense known as indicative present when the seemingly mundane expression “I am” actually stands for “I exist”. In other forms of languages though, where you would also expect to find the verb “to be”, the pronoun “I” is enough to claim the existence of an essence. The “I” stands alone. Something fundamental is at stakes here. In languages such as Russian or Hebrew, the verb “to be” cannot be conjugated in the present: this tense simply does not exist. It only belongs to the realm of understandable-but-impossible-to-grasp concepts, being logically annihilated exactly when it starts to exist. In these languages, in each present instant, the “object that is” is meant to equal the very object of its correspondence. You will thus say I glad / You sad / He nice / She happy / It here / We together / You well / They many.

In Sabrina Recoules Quang’s Works, each artwork relates to the present time in this exact same way: the painting behaves like an hourglass, in which Future and Past both converge and fuse. “At the beginning,” she says, “they were boxes in which I poured episodes of my past, present and future life”. These are paintings in which memory is archived, with or without memories. In these painting-archives, what do we see? A girl. A woman (often with a broken face showing the mask behind). A boy. A man. Tender couples — men and women embracing themselves or dancing together. Nine candles summoning would-be ancestors. A window, interpreted as both a passage to another world, and triple doorstep between the inside, the outside and the “other side”. This outside where the violent wind of a dark storm blows through. While at the same time, the secret inside can also be envisioned as bearing other forms of violence, a violence of being capable of suffocating things. There are rocks battered by the waves, breaking the blades of the sea. In the background, rocks exhibiting a Y-like structure remind of a vulva or a delta. Another landscape, sweet and warm, bathed in transparent reddish tones is vertically cut by a line — a fragile, balanced, stable, line, yet materially ephemeral. In other works, an orange man raises his arms to the sky. Under the V of Victory you can now figure out the symbolic X of the Unknown. Faces. Figured out as many, unique faces. Heads and questionning features. Texts and features are engraved in the canvas, where runes entertwin their signs.

Enter signs, plays of figures, space, and time. Plays on words, too: ?… How, ever… Aren’t space and time first and foremost linguistic, social or scientific conventions? Getting rid in some ways of any such conventions, would certainly be useful to open up other, meaningful possibilities and unlock their deepest secrets. Couldn’t “now” be time for another space, the outer space, a space outside of itself, the out-of-sides, out-of-sights? Defining this new perspective requires a new form of vision to figure things out, to time them out, to space them out, to play them out. To bring (ab)out what ought to be. This new Vision would call for radical new ways to look at things; it requires a new Eye.

The Eye for an I to (k)no(w)more.

If loving (aimer) consists in thinking with one’s heart – the seat and the doorstep of the soul – and if love is the deletion of death (amore, a-more, no-more ‘without death’), then love happens to be the fruit of those who are split, of those who are left open. Because only those who are left open can acknowledge receipt, host, and welcome otherness.

One of the most peculiar subtleties of the French language happens to be the word hôte: hosts are both those who welcome guests and those who, as guests, are being welcome. This subtlety brings forth the true nature of the disquieting unity between art and artist. The artist is both the media and the medium, both the carrier and the passage, both the channel and the eye, both the camera and the projector. Just like in cinema, the artist’s eye always remains itself and speculates on a singular narration expressing the viewpoint of a third person -- his or her I. The Eye for a new I.

This form of unity just means that one has to die to oneself to rebirth for eternity. This split, multifaceted Eye calling for a multifaceted unity, the I(dentity), is the answer that Sabrina Recoules Quang’s art brings upon us.

Original text written in French by and copyrighted to Alexandre Szames with Bruno Garrigues, Paris, the ninth of December of the year zero-nine. Translated and adapted by A. Szames on the eleventh of may of the year MM and X.