Catherine Bernard : story-maker
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Catherine Bernard is a story-maker. Language, as usual, takes hold of these first words and bends their meaning towards irony and satire. I am aware of it, but still I have to write them because they define well what she does in her work and what she truly is as an artist. As artists Louise Bourgeois, and then Annette Messager said, language is a male debate, as if it had to do with the power and property of men over women, and of fathers and sons over mothers and daughters. As if it was necessary to take away, as soon as it is over, women's central position in reproduction, particularly in the production of men, so that the only thing left for them to say or write on this significant experience is the symbolical 'immaculate conception". Thus, women are said to chat when men speak in the name of all ; women are also said to spin stories.
So, men make History and talk about their story(ies) as it they were everyone's, but they have nothing to do with those yarns women chat about, those little stories they spin. As if, left out of places and facts, they could not look at them and even less pass them on, but only tell tales, imagine and picture them. Since, outside those minds as empty as their wombs, a double emptiness carved inside their bodies, there is nothing left for these women but a heart too human where insouciance goes with carelessness, inconsistency with foolishness... And this regular and un-regular matrix from where the thread of blood fed of passion and emotion spurts, flows intensely in their veins and ends in pain when they don't become mothers. Thus, since they see time and people flying without them, they have to regain foothold and try to rewrite their own history, fact by fact, word by word, to stain this immaculate, this virginity of their own lives.
Catherine Bernard is one of those women -- from Louise Bourgeois to Annette Messager, from Nancy Spero to Kiki Smith, from Rosemarie Trockel to Marlène Dumas -- who stitch up the thread of their life, which is unravelled like their lineage. She sees and devours happily what the fathers and sons thought they had secured. In the eye of her needle, she threads the lines of this recorded and counted history : writings of a story-teller on sheets of records and accounts. And from her life and blood which flow back and forth in her veins and that she cannot or would not keep but still possesses, with her hands, Catherine Bernard creates stories which are threaded and unthreaded in her hands and that she connects, fact after fact, thread after thread, or rather threads on threads, in a whipping gesture, hemming the world and turning its text upside down, one life up, one life down. And with her hands she lays down skins of papers she steals from the world's and time's surface, and then covers and recovers discretely with the lines and signs of a newly found and won language, visible on readable.
Thus she takes back the books of the world, stealing, collecting small treasures. And she weaves her threads onto texts, from white to red, from red to black, from daughter to mother, from mother to widow, up to the last dot, white upon black, the light of day fallen in the dead of night, where memories, speech and writing nestle. A dead of night that we can see today in the matrix-tables we have in front of us, in the matrix-balls we hold in our hands, and from where Catherine Bernard's pieces of world-thoughts and word-flesh emanate, airy and vivacious as a breathing.

To my maternal grand-mother, Antoinette Boyer.
Charles-Arthur Boyer.

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