CORNELIUS HEESTERS
Dutch-Canadian

Represented by: Christopher Cutts Gallery






StoryTeller

THE STORYTELLER

—An imperfect remembrance? An absolute lie? A staggering truth? A silent desire?—
(M. Blanchot)



I
I find myself writing over—an erasure then of what has already been written and thought—writing myself back to the space before the appearance of this text. The subject solicits me to write this space—yet not in the vocative mode. Thus I attempt to write the unwritable. We arrive here long after the event. The event that this installation both erases and celebrates resides in a silent past of which this work is but a shadowy spectre. I write the I have written. The Storyteller then solicits a speaking and writing subject while refusing to post recognizable pictorial representations or irreducible narrative structures. The “un-writing” of the work too, must be written, as the possible affirmation of a place less fixed and determined.

II
Prolegomenon Pro (before), and lego (to say). How is it possible to speak this chasm and find Ariadne’s thread? Prolegomena is the inaudible distended possibility before speech, before what is thought. The restless and relentless writing here is writing the impossible. Writing—the brute positivity of the cipher—poses with the palm of victory, demanding a forgetting, and thus luxuriates in the impossibility of speaking-the-text. And so I find myself standing in (standing-in-for) the place both prescribed and proscribed by the conventions and sanctions of the prolegomenon.

III
De Certeau, in The Writing of History recognizes that there exists an “infinite play of ideas relative to one another, a game reserved for an elite associated with the protection of an established order.” The claimed priority to such exclusivity always-already elides the reading/writing subject who, becomes but the mere tabula rasa of the pedagogical corrective. Therefore the erasure of the site(slide) of constructed narrative coherence opens upon the possibility where speaking might intervene in the unwinding of the tale—the other storyteller. Unlike the reductive closure of master narratives, the seeming prohibition here against “reading” is a (pro)vocative gesture nonetheless for “when to write or not to write makes no difference, that is the writing of the disaster.” (M. Blanchot—The Writing of the Disaster)

IV
There is an architectonic whose presumed centrality this work meditates on. Is my complicity in a double erasure —if one can call it that—a nihilistic gesture of capitulation or a failure even? If such gestures of resistance can be seen as disastrous what remains in the ashes of the catastrophic are the questions or, rather, the vestige of such questions. Ironically the inquiry chains me to the very monolith it seeks to question and contest—Sisyphus?

V
The obliteration of 20th-century icons—works that stubbornly resist all attempts at criticism or revision—is not, I contest, “the disaster.” It is merely a question of shifting them, placing them off-centre momentarily—allowing for the images drift around the temporal/visual space left vacant by their elision. Thus the normative syntax of sanctioned storytelling is suspended and invites the possibility of what can be thought and spoken….


THE ART HISTORY EFFECT
Evonne Levy

Storyteller…is a sign of Hester’s intense engagement with the effect of the apriori construction by art history of master narratives. In addition to its conceptual rigor, Heesters’ work is always stunningly executed…there is a complete redefinition and transformation of the slide here as the whole slide (qua object) becomes the enlarged field of painting, not merely its reproductive frame. In endowing the slide with a new dimension, contour, and status, as painting, Heesters takes art history’s Cinderella for her first dance on the gallery floor.

It is characteristic of Cornelius Heesters’ work of the past years to place before the viewer that which she is accustomed to look beyond: the lectern (to the speaker), the projector (to the slide), the slide (to the reproduction)….Heesters emphasizes the viewer’s immobility in the master narrative in the Storyteller by reversing the GEPE mount—he has painted over the depression in the slide frame where the logo is visible—so that the Story, were it visible, would be projected onto the viewing subject, in turn, the written subject, and potentially the subject as storyteller.

All of these issues are implicated in the series of five works, the Pro—lego. In this series the stamped titles, Storyteller, Cornelius Heesters, comprise the field…. The reification of the title here as the object encapsulates the programme of The Storyteller as a whole. For what we see here in naked form is the art history effect. In these gestures of defiance there is a characteristic ambivalence. For Heesters in fact works in the thrall of the book, the slide, the narrative. Every gesture of resistance is accompanied by its subject’s convulsive need for a reiteration of its structures. Storyteller is an eloquent statement of the possibilities of making art, both literally and metaphorically, through the narrative structures of our day….Cornelius Heesters opens up a generous critique of art making art history in our time.

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