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One of the conditions for the possibility of the secluded and sedentary life of the Carthusians - the sericulture, and the cultivation of mulberries, whose leaves were the exclusive food of the bombyx mori (silkworm) -, connect them to the faraway China. They remind us that the Romans, who have left a vast legacy in the region, were fond of silks which reached us by the huge ways of circulation, bridge between East and West, of the Silk Roads.
Downstairs in the cloister, in a pass-dishes that allowed a part of the Carthusians to isolate themselves to dedicate their time to study – the others taking care of the economic and material life – is symbolically reenacted their relationship. In this first video-tableau, the mulberries are a food; with their almost phosphorescent color and larva-like shapes, they can also evoke the sericulture. Twelves mulberries like the twice twelve Carthusians and placed on a circular stone, they also talk about the organization of time.
imago (Pyrame et Thisbé)
The second video-tableau, projected in the sub-sacristans, floats like a distant echo, fragmentary and ambiguous, of the tale of Pyramus and Thisbe recounted by Ovid: the mulberry tree would have only produced white mulberries before their blood at the roots of the tree gives its color to the fruit. This myth would come from an older Asian legend and has inspired the stories of Tristan and Isolde and Romeo and Juliet. This imago, archetype – persistence of the images and narratives crossing civilizations and generations – of the idealized and therefore impossible relationship, condemned the two lovers to an early death as the imago, last state of the bombyx, is approaching its own. In this condition of butterfly it no longer produces any thread from its drool: no more narrative potential.
phototaxis, attraction to light
The Chinese were interested very early in natural phenomena of light at night or related to death: will-o'-the-wisp around marshes and cemeteries, the bioluminescence of plants and decomposing corpses, fireflies... Like many insects and plants, the butterfly (a stage generally not reached by the bombyx mori, the cocoons being scalded to prevent hatching that would break the thread of silk) is attracted to light. The alternate blinking between the neon light and the light emanating from the phosphorescent thread draws like a metaphor for the nocturnal activity from one side of the earth to the other, but also for the influences and re-emergences between cultures.