Les Statues meurent aussi 1 - English Subtitles (Optional)

Uploaded by ChimpdenEarwhicker on 17.11.2007

This film has been made possible thanks to the friendly assistance of
When men die, they enter into history.
When statues die, they enter into art.
This botany of death
is what we call culture.
That's because the society of statues is mortal.
One day, their faces of stone crumble and fall to earth.
A civilization leaves behind itself these mutilated traces
like the pebbles dropped by Petit Poucet.
But history has devoured everything.
An object dies when the living glance
trained upon it disappears.
And when we disappear, our objects will be confined
to the place where we send black things:
to the museum.
Black art,
we look at it as if it had its reason for being
in the pleasure it gives us.
The intentions of the black who created it,
the emotions of the black who looks at it,
all of that escapes us.
Because they are written on wood, we take their thoughts
for statues and we find the picturesque
there, where a member of the black community
sees the face of a culture.
It is its smile of Reims that she gazes upon.
It is the sign of a lost unity
where art was the guarantee of an agreement between man and world.
It is the sign of this gravity which delivers her,
beyong métissage and the slave ships,
that ancient land of the ancestors, Africa.
Here is the first division of Earth.
Here is the fetus of the world.
Here is Africa in the 11th century.
From age to age, as its shape slowly unravelled,
Africa was already the land of enigmas.
Black was already the color of sin.
Travellers's tales spoke of monsters, flames,
diabolical apparitions.
The whites already projected onto the blacks their own demons
as a way to purge themselves of them.
And yet, once beyond deserts and forests,
which he believed to be bordering on the kingdom of Satan,
the traveller discovered nations,
Which song cradled this little princess?
This little orange ripened in the caves of Benin?
Which cult presided over this little republic of night?
We don't know any more.
These great empires are now dead kingdoms to history.
Contemporaries of Saint Louis, of Joan of Arc,
they are even more unknown to us, than those of Sumer and Babylon.
In the last century,
the flames of conquerors turned this whole past
into an absolute enigma.
Black upon black, black battles in the night of time,
the sinking has left us only with this beautiful striped wreckage
which we interrogate.
But if their history is an enigma, their shapes are not foreign to us.
After the Frisians, the monsters, the helmeted Atrides of Benin,
all the vestments of Greece over a people of a sect,
here are their Apollos from Aifé
which strike us with a familiar language.
And it is fair that the black feel pride about
a civilization which is as old as ours is.
Our ancestors can look at each other face-to-face
without looking down with empty eyes.
But this brotherhood in death is not enough for us.
It is much closer to us
that we are going to find the true black art,
that which puzzles us.
The enigma begins right now, here, with this poor art,
this art of hard wood, with this plate for divination,
for instance.
It is not very useful for us to call it religious object
in a world where everything is religion,
nor to speak of an art object in a world where everything is art.
Art here begins in the spoon
and ends up in the statue.
And it is the same art.
The wisdom in art and the ornament of a useful object
like the head support and the useless beauty of the statue
belong to two different orders.
Here, this difference falls apart when we look closer.
A chalice is not an art object, it is a cult object.
This wooden cup is a chalice.