Massacre de la Saint-Barthélemy.. Collection no.8
"It was striking eleven o'clock at Saint Germain l'Auxerrois. Maurevel counted each of the hammer-strokes as they sounded clear and melancholy through the night, and when the last echo had died away in space he turned to Coconnas, who was greatly mystified at seeing the precautions taken by the two men. "Sir," he asked, "are you a good Catholic?" - Alexandre Dumas, Queen Margot.
One morning at the gates of the Louvre. Édouard Debat-Ponsan.
In my new eighth collection I continue to explore violence. And, unfortunately, the history of human cruelty is so voluminous that my own life is not enough to express this topic through my work. Having finished with the French Revolution, I am thrown back two hundred years, to the time of the French Wars of Religion. And this topic is again becoming relevant right now in the Middle East..
"Every one had in his right hand either a sword or a pike or an arquebuse, and some held in their left hands torches, shedding over the scene a fitful and melancholy glare which, according as the throng moved, shifted along the street, climbed the walls; or spread over that living sea where every weapon cast its answering flash." - Alexandre Dumas, Queen Margot.
St. Bartholomew's Day massacre. François Dubois.
When I mention those figures in history who were with me while working on a new collection, the first thing I hear is what is the connection between them? Indeed, between Joan of Arc and Catherine de Medici there are not only decades, character, position, but also the role they played for their time. But this is only the view of the layman. These two women have become overgrown with such an unaffordable layer of hoaxes and lies that you involuntarily imagine mythological characters of ancient Greece rather than real people. But all this is just the result of many years of propaganda of books, movies, etc. The lives of these women were and continue to be used for selfish purposes, first destroying them, and then again raising them to the top when necessary. But I will not separate myself from these intruders because, like them, I also use them. In my case, with the help of Dumas and Twain's books. But I only hope for a minimum level of self-interest, because the basis of my work is only the creation of an image through the prism of the dark side of human culture, unfortunately based on existing sources. This is just a ghost, a shadow, a breath that reached us centuries later..
"The heavy thud, the billows of blood spurting from the body and spattering the pavement all around, filled even the duke himself with horror; but this feeling lasted only an instant, and curiosity caused every one to crowd forward, so that the glare of the torches flickered on the victim's body." - Alexandre Dumas, Queen Margot.
"Catherine De Medicis watching The Massacre Of Huguenots" and one of my sketches for the Collection no.8.
St. Bartholomew's Night is an act of unforgivable cruelty, just like The September Massacres, which became a reference for my previous seventh collection. But both of these crimes were justified exclusively by good goals, as if murder could become a good goal.. There are no degrees for violence. But even in such events, beauty and art are able to survive and continue to exist. I am reminded of the words attributed to the philosopher Theodor Adorno: "to write a poem after Auschwitz is barbaric". This sentence, which has become very famous, expresses itself not too deep and not too generous an idea of both suffering and poetry. All late poetry (in unity with the ancient universal tradition of "crying" about a common misfortune) refutes Adorno. It was after Auschwitz that it was impossible not to write poetry; in a very personal, but also in a superpersonal sense, poetry was the only alternative to unthinking, unexplained, wordless suffering, and therefore madness.. So is my work. For some, such references will seem crazy, because these are just bags and boots, but for me, when I sit for hours and days making a new pair of shoes or a bag, this is life, life during war. Everyone is capable and has the right to express their pain using the tools that are available to them. And that beauty and that art that we are able to create in difficult times preserve our human appearance.
"Covered with blood, and having attained that state of exaltation which is the last resource of human strength, dashed through the streets, with no other guide than instinct. Behind him, the footsteps and shouts of his enemies spurred him on and seemed to give him wings. Occasionally a bullet would whistle by his ears and suddenly add new swiftness to his flight just as it was beginning to slacken. He no longer breathed; it was not breath, but a dull rattle, a hoarse panting, that came from his chest. Perspiration and blood wet his locks and ran together down his face." - Alexandre Dumas, Queen Margot.