Magazine article Artforum International

Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster

Magazine article Artforum International

Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster

Article excerpt

GALERIE JAN MOT

In Japan there are several agencies that design cartoon characters for use by publishing houses specializing in manga. The most complex of these characters are best able to become protagonists and therefore survive, but they can be prohibitively expensive for the publishers. Other characters are sold at more moderate prices because they're unlikely to survive, to keep their place in the narrative, for more than a few pages. French artists Philippe Parreno and Pierre Huyghe bought the rights to one of these characters destined to disappear in an instant. She became the basis for their project, "No Ghost, Just a Shell," in which a number of artists, including Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster, were invited to create a life, a psychology, and a story to prolong this character's existence.

Parreno and Huyghe's play on the title of the famous manga "Ghost in the Shell" emphasizes the initial absence of any character traits: Ann Lee is a simple container waiting to be filled. A character without a story cannot, of course, haunt anyone. But, borrowing the English title of a Baudelaire poem, Anywhere out of the World, 2000, for the episode he directed, Parreno had already lent Ann Lee a melancholic cast. The story of her destiny as a bargain-basement character fated for a rapid death was the tragic beginning of her epos. In the episode by Gonzalez-Foerster, Ann Lee in Anzen Zone, 2000, her air of undeniable melancholy has become even more apparent. …

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