The obscene Veranda Company
Their names should have given us the clue to the revelation these two characters were going to throw into our midst. The first, Émilien Adage, was to be the triggering element. How can one still believe in an accepted truth? Florian of the Room, intermittentlyAustralian, concealed his real name: Florian de la Salle. This age old subterfuge could not have warned us as to the intentions of the two accomplices. They
were going to apply themselves for a month to the task of demonstrating our incapacity to look at things, resulting from our powerlessness to act.
They started out by founding a company named after our residence, the Veranda Company. What appeared to us to be a means of drawing attention to their presence by focusing light on their artistic production through the eruption of the entrepreneurial world within that of the university was in reality going to prove to be a means of merging with the latter. In fact, no-one seemed to be surprised to see two young men wandering around the corridors, the lifts or the library rooms carrying their ladder and a few neon lights, plugs or other tools essential for the electrical maintenance of the building. Little by little the defective elements were replaced without anyone really noticing but at the same time creating a special feeling, as if all of a sudden everything was working. No more need to ask for the electrical service by contacting the secretary of the General Director of Services, etc., etc., etc., the little annoyances were eliminated without anyone bothering
about the matter.
Quite quickly, other malfunctions became evident. Our campus was cluttered up with works erected in the context of the programme “1% artistic”. Apart from some pieces by Calder or Vilmouth, the interest of the maintenance services for the different projects appeared to be limited, but the Veranda Company was to rectify that. Armed with Kärsher pressure washer, ladder, garden hose, scissors and pairs of boots, our friends were going to put, for some time, the works of Edgar Pillet, Jean-Claude Barrere, … and Jean-Pierre Raynault in working order again. Let me stress the name of the latter for here is a work, Tumulus, put into the shade by political difficulties relating to the conservation of our cultural heritage. To the point where, composed of abundant vegetation, this work had easily won the battle against man, who started out in any case defeated in advance by his
attitude of neglect. It was without counting on the Veranda Company who decided, one evening in September, in front of a dozen onlookers, to undertake its rediscovery with machetes, turning it for the occasion into a new Machu Picchu.
How can one report on an activity by nature clandestine? The video bears witness but not only that. One finds in their projects two types of montage. The first is illustrated by a series of scenes for Mean Time of Evaporation, which was supposed to document the attempt to fill a dried out basin with water. An undertaking which turned out to be unsuccessful but where the video clearly demonstrates the amateur professionalism of this team. The second is different. In the case of Mean Time of Exploration it consisted of re-enacting the ascension to the work. Step by step we are invited to imagine and then let ourselves discover what our new explorers had to offer.
The Veranda Company belongs to those whom we do not look at in order to better observe what they have to show us. If it belongs to those enterprises considered to be obscene, off scene, outside of the scene, this is to better “make us see what should not be seen”1. In fact, by adopting the policy of maintaining the buildings as likewise the 1% artistic, the Veranda Company was bringing back on scene or back into play works until then classed as ob-scene by our society.
(Translated by Juliette Mulvihill)