Politiques de l'amitie
book by Jacques Derrida (Galilee, 1994, 423 pages) cut by hand into confetti, dimensions variable
In his book The Politics of Friendship (Politiques de l'amitie, 1994) Derrida examines the idea of friendship and its political consequences pursued down the ages. He proofs that friendship has a politics and argues that aspects of the political - in broader socio-cultural terms - might well be elucidated by examining the seemingly intimate realm of friendship. Derrida also shows that 'political friendship' is fundamentally inflected by gender and that the canonical model of friendship is a 'phallogocentric concept'. Friendship is according to him, most of the time implicitly, synonymous with brotherhood. Brotherhood cannot accommodate differences and women are a priori excluded - the logic of consanguinity does not allow for friendship between a man and a woman, or between two women. Politics of brotherhood is patriarchal, because it excludes women by definition. Politics of sisterhood would be just as undesirable if it would reproduce the same underlying logic of identity, and the exclusion that comes with it. How can we connect people and spare the idea of friendship from politics, patriarchal and linguistic traps? How can we take friendship beyond adherence to familial bonds and similitude, towards a suspension of gender? Can we re-define sisterhood in opposition to the idea of brotherhood, as an untried horizon of non-hierarchical heterogeneity and tolerance?
Relating to Derrida's idea of deconstructing the androcentric concept of friendship and the principles of the genetic and political bonds, we translated The Politics of Friendship into an impermanent object, into a performative inclusive gesture which renders everybody as participant. Dismantled and cut by hand into small confetti, Derrida's book collapses into an abundance of free-floating signifiers. The book becomes an unstable sculpture liberated from language and all confines - a plea for an open, hospitable, celebratory, borderless and wordless friendship. The sculpture is carried out by throwing the pile of confetti in one blow into the air, in the exhibition space, over visitors, over other works and things around. The random configuration composed by the fall is susceptible to chance and unexpected forces, to air draughts, to people's shoes and pockets. The sculpture disappears in space and time, dispersing in the gallery, slowly spreading out on the streets, turning into dust, getting lost in the complexity of the world.
Confetti trace back to ancient symbolic rituals of phyllobolia and tossing sweets during celebrations of triumphs or accomplishments. We manufacture and throw the confetti in a ceremonial reverence to celebrate a "fratriarchy" free friendship, a disconnection from differences and a displacement from logocentrism. The confettised book reverses hierarchies (matter over logos) and makes time and space coordinates unstable. The structural disorder of confetti is not made for contemplative reading, but rather lures to a subtle way of inhabiting a structure that connects, relates, bonds. It invites to an event of companionship, it engages into a narrative of friendship, it creates a state of flux, unpredictability, and it reveals the hidden mythos of friendship.