Several years ago, the French writer, playwright, and philosopher Hélène Cixous gave me one of her books, “Philippines,” as a source for collaboration between her text and my artistic practice. “Philippines” is based around the story of “Peter Ibbetson,” a novel by Georges du Maurier, where two childhood friends are separated by class and country, reuniting as adults in a shared dream that takes place in a primal forest. Hélène describes the book as filled with “silhouettes of characters that seemed to have always been with me.”
“We all have our treasure books, tales or fables, and they are quite unexpected. For Proust his secret book was [Théophile Gautier’s] ‘Le Capitaine Fracasse,'” Hélène says, and for Sigmund Freud it was Rudyard Kipling’s “The Jungle Book.” Her secret book is “Peter Ibbetson.” In a conversation that took place in late December 2012 in Paris, Hélène and I are discussing “Peter Ibbetson” as the inspiration for “Philippines,” and “Philippines” as the genesis of the exhibition “Forêt Intérieure/Interior Forest.” The setting is quite intimate, as we are seated at her dining room table with her books and photographs lining the shelves behind us. We talk openly about receiving telepathic messages as points of inspiration (“Is this message for me? And in what language?”).
Through exchanges with Hélène like the one documented here, I’ve made “Philippines” my own secret book and a path into the Forêt Intérieure/Interior Forest, an art exhibition that is a place of dialogue, day-dreaming and encounters with the Other, “both good and bad.” Hélène calls this exhibition “a place where passersby will suddenly discover that it’s them who have been expected.” She turns to me and says, “That’s how it happened when we met.”
And to you, the reader, “We’ve been waiting for you to join us on the telepaths into the ‘Forêt Intérieure/Interior Forest.'” — Alexandra Grant
For the video and transcription of the interview, please visit: