“Every day we are fed stories, observations, confessions, statements, anecdotes. Some of these pass us by, while others may prove decisive for how we view the world.” That is the beginning of an e-flux announcement I have read recently, in the infinite daily scroll that we all are very familiar with. I believe it somehow mirrors the premises of my project, Pour la petite histoire.
This French expression is quite difficult to translate. At the beginning of a sentence, it very precisely introduces the fact that what follows is an anecdote that can reinforce or deny what was previously said, yet a petite histoire is a secondary tale not worth occupying the main story’s place in the text or in the speech. It is the “little” story, the irrelevant one. It is the excitation the manufacturer of Napoleon’s crown experienced the night before Napoleon was crowned, rather than Napoleon being crowned by Pope Pius VII in December 2, 1804 in Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris. I am certain that the manufacturer’s vision and feelings contributed to the emperor’s crown beauty in a substantial way and made it shine even more. Also to listen to that night’s tale, would make Napoleon truly exist in the humankind’s memory, for he would be associated with life in its littleness. Once again, something that we all are very familiar with.
In the following months, from January to April 2017, I will ask four Iranian artists whose work has been included in the MOP archive to tell me an anecdote. The anecdotes will be indirectly related to their practice and take whatever form the artist would prefer to express this intimate storytelling and transmission. Artists’ contributions will be housed on two digital venues: the MOP website and PAPPIS – Art Anecdotes Archive. PAPPIS (www.pappisaaa.com) is a platform where micro-histories are brought to existence, displayed and shared as a complementary narrative to the main critical definition of the artwork. It is a place to bring the subjectivity of personal representations at the very core of the discourse. Giving voice to the voiceless stories, to the sequence of moments and facts lying in the artistic creation, means to “choralize” the experience and to foster a certain subjective apprehension of the “collective”.
Pour la petite histoire then proposes an archive of common stories that could revisit what we already know and possibly enrich it. Being attentive to anecdotes could thus become a key to understand the bigger picture – an artistic system, the value of an artist’s practice, the crisis-the failure-the accident-the joy- the nakedness-the mystery that creativity carries within itself. Reinterpreting the artworks of the MOP archive through the petite histoire is a way of asking the archive to go beyond its Foucauldian status; to reconsider itself from a wider perception, which is paradoxically based on a more human and self-centred will to tell – peripheral, unofficial, unreleased. Storytelling thus becomes the revolutionary act of re-appropriating the existence running in the meaningless infinite flow of life and the archive is where this subversion can take place.