Carole Chebron: Watching, 2020
Watching – Watching! Visible, invisible …
Spears, harpoons and shield.
This project was born in Arniberg, in Germanspeaking Switzerland, where I lived with my family the period of confinement, on the top of the hill, between farms, cows and forests! We are welcomed by a friend whose mother was an Ethnologist in her time. She carried out a study on the rites and customs of a tribe, whose village is located on the Mandara Mountains, in Cameroon. The scene is set, I find myself in the early morning of the first day of confinement, facing spears, harpoons and shields from Africa, in the middle of Swiss cows! I am uprooted, for a while a little paralyzed, confused…
The presence of these objects in this already special place intrigues and fascinates me. Usually seen in museums, these hunting and defense items are surprisingly simple. They are powerful, cruelly beautiful and totally unsuited to the virus we need to fight!
I feel, like everyone else, extremely vulnerable, uprooted certainly, worried too! Containment then appears to me as an almost primitive imposed condition: confinement as the only rampart or shield, if I may say so, against the virus! And that, in the 21 st century, unthinkable yesterday, surreal today … it’s a shock!
Naked, unarmed in the face of the invisible enemy, more dangerous and pernicious than the animal that prowls around our habitat at night: Watching, being on the lookout, in this mist that envelops us at sunrise, when we are at an altitude of 1000m, not knowing if the enemy is there.
These artefacts for killing, but also for selfdefense, protection from possible attack, resonate and echo the situation we are experiencing here in Arniberg. Will we have to learn how to be the huntergatherer of yesteryear ?! Equipped with my spear, I don’t give too much of my skin to the forest animal. Worse still, I can’t recognize edible plants and flowers!
Watching … visible, invisible is a work that expresses a very strong feeling of helplessness, a keen reaction to this new situation.
These earthenware clay weapons are unusable in the face of the threat. Harmless and fragile, they refer us to our extreme vulnerability, to the strangeness of the situation we are facing. They send us back to an almost primitive primary state very far from our contemporary lives and yet almost close in this time of pandemic.
They tell us about our helplessness in the face of the elements of nature that manifest themselves and call us to a salutary reflection on the state of our land, on the effects of climate change and overproduction, worldwide.