Le bout de la langue
A woman pronounces parts of sentences. Via rigorous editing, the artist creates anticipation with the silences, rhythm by the repetitions, temporal ellipses with music. The recording is diffused by a loud speaker placed on a plinth which gives the whole an anthropomorphic status which reminds one of Box with the sound of its own making by Robert Morris. “For me this is an emblematic piece of work. In fact Le bout de la langue could be the generic title of a large part of my work. Seemingly […] everything is obvious: the mental process along the way, speech is captured by disfunctional memory”. (« Notes, voix, entretiens », page 97). This metalinguistic artwork questions language in its relation to memory (blanks or losses) via fixed expressions: “Don’t you see, I can’t remember […] I have it on the tip of my tongue and it annoys me, […] Don’t you see what I mean”. The density of the silences emphasizes the failing memory, the voice can only be quiet. Petitgand’s characters spend their time trying to make an inventory, to classify, to order. Somewhere between a soliloquy and a monologue, the spoken sequences reintroduce a certain communication with the spectator who can become emotionally involved or have their imagination stimulated.
Dominique Petitgand makes sound pieces. “I can't make audible the world in its entirety. Only what is in motion, in action, animated, agitated or touched. To capture the presence of a tree, I need wind or an announcement saying 'tree' (always in an indirect mode)”, as the artist explained (in his book The missing pieces).version anglaise p.21 Snippets of recorded conversations are assembled and edited with blanks in the dialogues, background sounds (surround sound, bodily sounds) and music. In some more abstract works like Exhalaisons (Exhalations), the human being becomes a fragment reduced to the noise of a mouth or to breathing – a presence remains. The artist uses different modes of listening depending on the exhibition context, from domestic distribution (records, books) to public diffusion (concerts, installations). In terms of propagation in space, sound has no limits whereas images can only exist within its own limits (the frame). Petitgand's artworks embrace any architectural constraints for optimum deployment in space. Petitgand's sound pieces are constructions of sensations and affects that produce alterations on the spectator who is immersed in an environment via different emission sources and echos; there is no escaping the sound.
Dominique Petitgand was born in 1965 in Laxou, France. He lives and works in Paris.