Paul Qwest is first and foremost an art collector. A former art history teacher, he is also a writer. Above all, he curates the work of a singular collective, and claims this activity as an Art in its own right.
Around Séroux's pictorial works, he produces inseparable arrangements of drawings, photographs and various objects. From then on, what constitutes a "work" is based on the interactions between the various components of these arrangements.
It is a question of expanding the meaning of composition, or of cinematographic montage through a relational art, in much the same way as the juxtaposition of words in a sentence produces meaning.
In order to give literary form to this creative attitude, he has undertaken, for example, in a book presented below, to match 66 questions and 66 scientific or artistic articles with a multitude of literary quotations that address these questions directly or indirectly.
In literature, meaning belongs to the reader, in painting to the viewer. Nothing is fixed. It's up to each of us to see, to grasp something within ourselves, an echo.
People have always travelled within me. Obviously, some of them have settled in. They take me in, question me, pass me by. I probably resemble the heyday of the Chelsea Hotel in New York or something. The bar stays open. Day and night. I've never found a key.
To the question of the definition of oneself, Pasolini replied:
Paul Qwest - June 2016
In his essay, Qui dit je en nous, Claude Arnaud argues:
"If we invent part of who we are, our identity differs only in proportion, not in kind, from that of the impostors. And if no one has yet come forward to denounce it, it's no doubt because, in the final analysis, it doesn't have the importance we give it.
It's worth pondering, because why play your part in a constant carnival, a marathon of misunderstandings, a house of cards? Why reinforce the power of window dressing, the syrup of appearances?
To put it another way
Every Sunday, Robinson Crusoe put a flower in his hat, knowing that, even on his island, the other was there, in other words himself as the other - the admission of this dependence was already less alienating than denial.
"To make a man,
you have to combine all sorts.
"If a body were alone in the universe, it would have no properties.
Everything is relational."
"Our eyes doubt themselves until others have helped us to establish in ourselves the reality of what we see. Our consciousness goes astray: for this consciousness, which we believe to be our most intimate possession, is merely the presence of others within us."
A thousand hands
"Nothing is more foreign to me than a personal way of thinking. When I put forward a self, I play on the thoughts of others, on what I have randomly gleaned from the substance around me".
"It doesn't matter who influences me, as long as it's not me. Pablo Picasso
"The individual is a succession of individuals.
30 DAYS & AN ETERNITY
In May 2016, a simple chocolate mousse she couldn't digest gave Élisa Brune a clear-cut medical diagnosis: stage 4 cancer. Urgently asked what the prognosis was, she was told:
"You only have thirty days to live, madam".
Life is what happens when you've planned for something else.
Paul Qwest, who had witnessed the scene, immediately invited him to change hospitals and to put life back at the heart of the event by going to see "The Barberini Faun" in Munich.
At the same time, he suggested that the two of them continue writing the book they had begun alone a few months earlier, based on their ten years of travelling, reading and conversations.
In 2008, after meeting Edouard Glissant and reading Pessoa, Paul Qwest's work with the painter Séroux took on a scientific, artistic and literary dimension.
The adventure of writing together continued for two and a half years, until the death of Elisa Brune at the end of 2018.
In Hebrew, "life" does not exist in the singular. Throughout our lives, it's impossible to have just one. Something only begins when we realise that we have several, successive and simultaneous lives. But as soon as there is 'more than one', choices are made, creativity is possible, and so the Art of Living becomes possible.
Thanks to nearly sixty-six chapters, and as many discoveries and strokes of genius, often little-known, new horizons are opening up.
The very form of the book is that of the archipelago thinking dear to Edouard Glissant, a structure at work in our interconnected contemporary space.
The substance of the book offers the reader unprecedented tools for reflection and action for a world that is also unprecedented.
To see our lives as events is to offer ourselves the possibility of profoundly re-examining and re-imagining our relationships with ourselves, with others and with the world.
For Paul Qwest, this was the beginning of a new life for his work, both literary and visual, through the creation of collections based on existential, poetic or scientific questions.
The shaping of this exploration constitutes an advent presented on the Seroux.org website.
WEBSite / Elisa Brune
PART ONE :
CHAPTER ONE :
DEMYSTIFYING THE INDIVIDUAL
1. Character, posture and imposture
2. The person in person
3. The means of narrative
4. Being the product of others
5. The impulses of interaction
CHAPTER 2 :
DUMPING THE SURPLUSES
1. Learning to unlearn
2. Release the bone of meaning
3. Calming reasoning
4. Unclog the tongue
5. To see things more clearly
6. Starting afresh
CHAPTER 3 :
EXPERIENCING WHAT'S ESSENTIAL
1. The singularity of reality
2. The idiot, the one who doesn't make sense
3. The eclipse, a flash of night
4. The night, or the dark side
5. The meaning of tragedy
6. Superimposition as the structure of the world
PART TWO :
1. Contemplating reality
2. Being in love with details
3. Exploring consciousness
4. Broadening the point of view
5. Experiencing time
6. Getting moving
7. Generating shapes
8. Weaving the true and the false
9. Thinking backwards
10. Choose between two and three
11. Being fragile
CHAPTER 5 :
1. Giving yourself carte blanche
2. The treasures of waste
4. Throwing bridges
5. Dare to collage
6. Composing by superposition
7. Constructing arrangements
8. Enjoying serendipity
PART THREE :
ENTERING THE PRESENT
CHAPTER 6 :
OPENING UP TO OPEN FORMS
2. The unpredictable
5. Thought in an archipelago
CHAPTER 7 :
ART BY EXAMPLE
1. The artists :
Robert Filliou and life above all
2. The viewers :
3. The work :
The appearance of Vivian Maier
PART FOUR :
CHAPTER 8 :
1. The value of misunderstanding
2. The blind spot of reason
3. Rising madness
4. Bypassing borders
5. The mythology of fine art
6. The riches of failure
7. The fresh air of the incomprehensible
8. Knowing nothing
9. The relevance of the inappropriate
10. To please, to displease, to ignore
CHAPTER 9 :
WEAVING THE MULTITUDE
1. Feeling numerous
2. The registers of otherness
3. Embracing globalisation
1. The elusive remains
2. Outrages and Delights
Newspaper critic / LIBERATION / 2019
By Louise Bernard
BETWEEN PERSONAL REFLECTIONS AND QUOTES FROM AUTHORS, ELISA BRUNE AND PAUL QWEST WEAVE A CHORAL BOOK IN WHICH THE ARTS AND SCIENCES REDEFINE OUR IDENTITY.
It could be personal development, but it is based on science and literature. Elisa Brune and Paul Qwest's book, Nos Vies comme événement, claims to be 'choral'. It advocates originality and applies it to its format: after a guiding question that resembles a philosophy essay topic,
- What do we know about our ignorance?
"Why bring out what is not yet there?
or "Do we also recognise ourselves elsewhere than in ourselves?" -
the article begins with a fact, an anecdote, or a concrete scientific explanation before gradually sliding into the artistic and concluding with a touch of lyricism.
The two authors then give way and collect quotations from different thinkers, in relation to what they have said before, to build 'bridges' between their personal reflections and fragments of other texts that echo them, in order to set thoughts and languages in motion. The menu includes a wide range of personalities (writers and philosophers), although the names Barrico, Proust, Kafka, Pessoa, Nietzsche, Beckett and Wittgenstein are often mentioned.
The aim is to make use of the different types of knowledge that revolve around us - astronomy, neurology, geometry, linguistics, history - to better envisage what we are, who we are as individuals, what we create, and to reflect on 'events', those that punctuate our lives and shape us, and those of history, on a global scale.
None of this is intended to overwhelm the reader.
The alternation between prose and this fragmentary anthology even makes the whole thing rather light. Above all, the vocabulary is never intended to be jargonist: you might read "une bouffe entre potes" ("a meal with mates") to talk about the Last Supper revisited by Veronese, or the expression "to make a mess of people's minds" ("messing with people's minds") to talk about Picasso's Demoiselles d'Avignon. Instead, the authors seek to provide keys for thinking and inventing. Horace's catchphrase "Dare to know" remains the guiding principle of the book, which calls for freedom and independence, detachment from preconceived barriers - "How many preconceived ideas remain to be overturned? - to leave room for chance and the unknown.
The intellectually dense questions are refreshed and sometimes made to smile: did you know that the canary forgets its spring songs every year because remembering them would weigh down its brain and prevent it from flying? We learn that, seriously, it is baseball that distinguishes us from the great apes. The strength gained in our shoulders thanks to bipedalism allows us to hit (not just balls) and acquire hunter status.
There is a story behind this project. A chance event in Elisa Brune's life became an event: indigestion from a chocolate mousse led to a diagnosis. She had only a few years to live. The essayist who wrote seminal works on female pleasure died in 2018. Before her death, she and her friend wanted to add one last stone to the edifice. Paul Qwest naturally dedicated this book, which exists thanks to her "breath of fresh air", to her. How can we fail to understand the insistence on the idea of accepting the mysterious and the incomprehensible?
An article on fragility concludes: "The foundation is that there is no foundation and that makes nothingness habitable." The text becomes a tribute.
Élisa Brune and Paul Qwest
Our Lives as Events
What art and science transform in us
Odile Jacob, 480 pp.
They took to the streets to explore reality and turn their lives into a four-handed work of art. Their adventure has given rise to a manual of free thought on the borderline between science and philosophy.