Francis Picabia – Johan Muyle

L’impossibilité de régner
18 april 2015 – 15 june 2015

An exhibition curated by Jacques Verhaegen, collector.


Press Release


Life is ungovernable.

Writing “We should neither govern nor be governed” in 1957, Marcel Havrenne didn’t bother to specify the two ways to escape the curse that plagues the ruler and the ruled: dying or, more happily, indulging in the joys of real life. The only ones to attempt a compromise between the two options are power-hungry businessmen, political managers, leaders, tribunes, all kinds of mafia. You just have to see how we are surrounded by zombies, vague yet harmful creatures, which are not quite dead, nor quite alive.

They’re a curious breed, these electoral and multinational barnyard cocks, strutting on their spurs, ready to fight any competitor claiming to be able to piss further than they can. Watch them, these men and women, defenders of the people: they aspire only to cheat and to see others genuflect before them, seeking justice and dignity.

Experts in the art of crawling, they rise above others only in their baseness. Their intelligence, reduced to knavish tricks of cunning and seduction, is exclusively monopolised by creating promotional campaigns modelled on the advertising strategies that sell cars, baked beans and bars of soap. Yesterday playing on class conflicts and contrasting shades of opinion, ideologies have merged in the melting-pot of consumerism, creating the murky brew that is clientelism. The sewers carry away the corpses of old ideologies, from the extreme left to the extreme right; nerdy rehashes of Bolshevism float past, jumbled up with corrupt socialism, authoritarian anarchy, the infamous liberal greed, and the unscrupulous and bloody stupidity of nationalism.

A pseudo-democracy, where trade rights supersede human rights, has established a patronage system where everything is upside-down, and where citizens act as they are told to act. We’re wandering through a supermarket democracy where the customer is free to take whatever products he desires – and he is persuaded to desire them – provided he pays for them on the way out.

In this chaos where the citizens’ insouciance turns to a bored indifference, the banking mafia are free to impose their diktats on countries to establish an economic totalitarianism where the food, pharmaceutical and technology mafias are colonising populations all over the world under the cruel whip of short-term profit.

The worst effect of this kind of dictatorship is the gradual resignation, the increasing lethargy of consciences, the cretinisation of the masses. Desperation becomes a propaganda tool. Consumerism recommends living in a whirl of last-ditch hedonism: “Enjoy today because tomorrow will be worse!” It’s no wonder that education is designed to flood the employment market with slaves whose surplus lowers costs. Culture budgets are cut back as a priority by both the left and the right; also reminding us that parasitic work is more profitable for capital that useful work that ensures quality food, healthcare, universal knowledge, pleasant accommodation, essential materials and renewable and free energy.

The cynical bias of creating a society of slaves, producers and consumers, also reveals the mediocrity of those people who claim to govern us and colonise us. They may have strength and cunning, but they lack imagination and creativity. The poetry and sensitive intelligence of a living being remains an alien world to them. Nothing is more foreign to the love of life than their mechanised existence, their robotic reflexes programmed by greed, servility and arrogant mediocrity.

But if they’re so afraid of life, it means that asserting our inalienable right to life is the best way to send them back to the cemeteries of the past forever.

Their pervasive cadaverous stench emanates from an existence that their obligations empty of any authentic life.

Because they are nothing without the staging that assigns them a place in the spectacle whose constant lies cement their daily lives. It’s here that art, in that it surges forth from this poetic source that is life, assumes its spontaneously subversive nature. It has the privilege of delivering a punch of derision to spectacles where mediocrity has to wear platform heels to give the illusion of grandeur. It reveals the absurd posturing of these puppets whose frantic agitations are mere attempts to mask their nullity.

Barbarism is one of the tricks brought into play in the development of oppressors of the people and tribunes, its voluntary servitude managers. On the one hand, there are the muffled screams of barbarism behind the scenes. It is the barbaric impoverishment that ruins entire populations, the ransacking of natural resources, countries devastated by shale gas, oil, chemical and food processing, and other devastating crap. In contrast, the hypocritical spotlight of outrage displays the savagery of the mentally ill who claim to be acting in the name of Islam, not caring to remember they’re not a patch on the ethnic cleansers of Rwanda or the former Yugoslavia; especially without pointing out with the same finger the stupidity of all nationalism, without reminding us once and for all that barbarism shits on all flags, whether religious or secular.

Contrary to the profitable inhumanity ruining the planet carefully hidden by Goebbels-style communication, reducing the foolish ferocity of Islamist killers to a miniature size not only denounces the dramatic effect that actually serves their interests, their willingness to spread hatred, fear and madness, but it also focuses on the lack of solidarity in the supposedly-civilised world, with the Kurdish fighters who recently triumphed over Islamist hordes in Kobani committed to destroy them completely.

It’s no magic trick that shatters this spectacle, it’s the laughter of life, it’s the creation by which each person shouts out the richness of his existence. Loustalot hit the nail on the head when he wrote at the front of his diary in 1789: “The great only appear great because we are on our knees. Let us rise up!”

To live is to invent the means and conditions for a better individual and social existence. Death doesn’t escape this invigorating laughter. I would like quite the “memento mori”, bequeathed to us by a world that’s fundamentally hostile to those living in it, to be sent specially to all those who go around giving us orders and imposing their diktats. It should tell them loud and clear: “You who do not live and who prevent us from living, finish dying as quietly as possible.” And, as recommended by the Bible and Marx: “Let the dead bury the dead!”

As for us, our message is simple, banal and brutal, in short: we don’t give a fuck about death: life alone matters!




IMG_1524bisInstallation view