Raquel André Collection Of Lovers Performance and Photography

October 7th, 2018  |  Published in September 2018

The performance of Collection Of Lovers begins with the audience filing in as André recites names over a droning and ominous soundtrack.  The recitation of this list itself drones on as André stands next to a projector and laptop.  She then begins to provide a statistical breakdown of the activities she has engaged in with her ‘lovers’ – beverages shared, showers taken, food eaten etc.

The use of the term ‘lovers’ is of course cheeky in this context, it serves as a clue to the partial fiction that underlies Collection Of Lovers.  Throughout Europe, Brazil, and now North America, André has met with strangers in their homes for an hour of unscripted time to have an authentic encounter and to photograph the meeting.  The implied sexuality or romance of ‘lover’ is missing, instead replaced with the artist’s thesis that modern life creates loneliness and a need for intimacy.

The performance of Collection Of Lovers moves from detachment between the artist and spectators to exegesis monologue and finally to dialogue.  The photographs from these encounters are projected upon a screen not necessarily corresponding to her commentary.

Throughout the narrative portion, André recounts how frequent it is that a portion of the men she meets expect a sexual encounter.  She seems to take comfort though that one man simply wished to view his ex-girlfriend’s favorite art house film with her.  For André the line between reality and fiction seems constantly blurred .  Her true concern is the reclamation of intimacy in a detached world of relationships forged through a computer screen rather than through physical time spent together.  It remains unclear if André has achieved her objective since her distant stance as collector seem to inhibit the intimacy she seeks.

André considers herself a collector of the ephemeral and as such, the persons/encounters are the subject of her collection.  The photographs serve as simply permanent evidence of her fleeting moments.   However she remains in total control of the encounters as well as their products.  André explains during the performance that she is also collecting spectators, and asks the audience to take a mobile phone photograph of her and send it to her.  How she will curate or contextualize these with little information informs the ad hoc basis which must exist for her Lovers images. Her control of these images begs the question: do her subjects agree to this valuation of intimacy over privacy?

Though this collection lacks cohesion, her thread of the need for intimacy over privacy is strongly supported by her encounter summaries.  She sees the world fracturing into shards of separate realities and seeks to bind them with authentic experience.  Documenting the encounters may be a side effect of her process.  Likewise, her invention of some scenarios and flirtations are left to the spectators to divide into fiction and truth.  Her mission of healing is implied in her vignettes. By remaining in control of the narrative and possible fictionalization of these encounters how can she ask her audience to participate in a false intimacy?

André never lets on to what extent she is seeking intimacy for herself, but her peripatetic nature seems to foster an isolation that requires periodic attention. Her final scene is her form onstage, obscured by a smoke and finally placing herself at the center of exhibition.  This is perhaps an attempt to show the collector as being as ephemeral as her objects.

Collection Of Lovers

Raquel André

Contemporary Arts Center

44 E 6th St

Cincinnati Ohio

Sept 6,7 2018

–Will Newman



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