Silence is Information, 2022

Los Angeles Contemporary Archive is pleased to present Silence is Information, an onsite research project by Clémence de Montgolfier. De Montgolfier (b.1987, lives and works in Paris) is a visual artist whose works investigates the politics of public speaking, representation, and the mediation of speech. 

As a case study, de Montgolfier has chosen to investigate « Truth and Reconciliation Commissions » (TRCs), a model of transitional justice commissions that have been organized in countries in democratic transition since the 1980s and other truth-seeking commissions modeled after them. TRCs publicly issue recommendations in an attempt to shed light on collective history and living together, with the goal of achieving relative social peace and repairing what can be. If the notion of restorative justice is paramount in the establishment of these commissions, the notion of « truth » as well as « reconciliation » are questioned, and their limits are tested. Indeed, the sincerity of each of the parties and the sometimes political interests that reside in the public and mediatized approach of « looking towards a pacified future » are regularly questioned and often criticized; furthermore, the recommendations published by the commissions are rarely followed by immediate political action. Criticism of TRCs include that these commissions have become performative acts of truth-telling that are still beneficial to society as a whole. 

At LACA, as a two part project titled Impossible Mediations, de Montgolfier will be sharing Silence is Information, an exhibition and onsite research. The project presents a series of four filmed interviews with participants who have testified in Truth and Reconciliation Commissions. Textile stoles embroidered with quotes from commissioners will also be viewable at LACA with the aim to counter feelings of illegitimacy from speaking publicly and propose that wearable objects can encourage questions around the authority of “truth.” By investigating moments of silence in relationship to oral history, the role of archives, and the field of restorative justice, what is the importance of testimonies and their recordings in truth-seeking? How is the process of recording a testimony for oral history a negotiation or co-creation between the point of view of the interviewee and the historian recording them? What kinds of truths can emerge? What do these experiences of truth seeking produce, and why should they be archived? What is the relationship between history and personal and collective memories? How can we document and record some things that are made to be forgotten? Why are the most significant events sometimes the ones that we forget? What is the relationship between the personal, the intimate, and what is public? What is the role of archives in this? What are some strategies to ask for recognition and compensation for things that cannot be repaired or that remain most of the time invisible to the status quo?

Lastly, in continuation of this project, de Montgolfier will research and curate a selection of archives, documents, artworks or materials from LACA’s archive to be discussed and looked at alongside the exchanges produced, in an attempt to generate new ways to create dialogues and collective thinking, between different sources, practices, temporalities and geographies of truths, memory, public speaking, and struggles for recognition.

Featuring, amongst others, the participation of Anouk Colombani, Dr. in Philosophy from Paris 8 University; Marie-Jo Thiel, MD and Professor of Ethics at the Faculty of Catholic Theology at the University of Strasbourg (FR); and Brieg Capitaine, Assistant Professor of Sociological and Anthropological Studies, Faculty of Social Sciences at the University of Ottawa (CA).  

This exhibition is made possible with support from Etant donnés Contemporary Art, a program of Villa Albertine and FACE Foundation, in partnership with the French Embassy in the United States, with support from the French Ministry of Culture, Institut français, Ford Foundation, Helen Frankenthaler Foundation, CHANEL, and ADAGP, as well as with the support of La Fondation des Artistes, Paris (FR), Les Moulins de Paillard (FR) and Fonds régional d’art contemporain Pays-de-La-Loire, Nantes (FR). Thank you to Ronan Le Creurer for the scenography, Hailey Loman, Audrey Briot, Niki Korth, Manuel Houssais, Shelly de Vito, James Porter, and the interviewees for their help and participation in developing this project.

Images : Vue de l’exposition personnelle de Clémence de Montgolfier Silence is Information, cur. Hailey Loman, Los Angeles Contemporary Archive (LACA), Etats-Unis, July 3 to July 31, 2022. Photos : Clémence de Montgolfier. With the support of Etant donnés Contemporary Art Fund et Villa Albertine. Some artworks are made in collaboration with Audrey Briot. Scenography Ronan Le Creurer.