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Gina Pane
Gina Pane
Bibliographical sources: 
cité in catalogue Gina Pane, Cadran solaire, Troyes, 1991, p. 139
Gina Pane

constat d'action : 6 photographies montées sur panneau signé et commenté

Technique description référence: 
constat d'action : 6 photographies montées sur panneau signé et commenté

L'espace mental de Gina Pane

Technique description référence: 
compte rendu de l'action par François Pluchard, in <em>Artitudes n° 5</em>, été 1973, pp. 16-19
Gina Pane | trace de la performance "Transfert", 1973 | © DR | courtesy de l'artiste
The action Transfert, revealed on April 19 at Space 640, in Saint-Jeannet, introduced a new spatiotemporal dimension in the work of Gina Pane. It is also the first action in which the artist proceeded with a conditioning of the public outside his own physical presence, by self-preparation of the one who, invited to a local inn, could only obtain – no matter what the drink requested was – a mint cordial. Only a small table, in the center of the room, bearing a glass of milk, a towel and some soap used for several days by the artist to wash, underlined both the mental presence of the artist and her physical absence. Mint, the omnipresence of which was little by little invading each individual's psyche, milk referred to the essence of life and the toiletries bringing back to the organic banality created a state of tension favorable to the questioning and hearing of the corporal discourse that was going to follow, when, forty-five minutes after the beginning of the action, the public was requested to come to the gallery, violently light, where the artist was, standing at the back of the room, and where the antagonist elements of the biological process Gina Pane was going to instruct were: two glasses of mint and two glasses of milk.

Three specific acts and of an increasingly emotional intensity marked Transfert: a doomed attempt, despite the artist's efforts, to reach a glass of mint placed on a shelf fixed to the wall, but out of hand reach, an urge followed by the absorption of part of the milk contained in a glass located on a shelf fixed on the opposite wall, at mouth's height; an attempt also doomed to drink alternatively out of a glass of milk and out of a glass of mint placed on the ground so that the artist, sat and legs straight, could neither reach the milk by bending her head backwards nor drink the mint by bending forwards. The last act is the one bringing the answer: by breaking with a stone a glass of mint and a glass of milk, by licking the mixture through the shards of glass, the artist obtained the fusion of both elements on the biological level, and thus the one who, with a constant dialogue, is produced by the mind who generates it himself.

A common plant of the Mediterranean area (to which a very beautiful portrait of a nonagenarian woman), mint symbolizes the desire that is still unfulfilled, because its very essence is inaccessibility. In the scope of our determinisms, unfulfilling desire leads to repression, resorting to maternal milk, going back to the foetus, to the retraction towards a nebulous, mythical, and reactionary past destroying the individual and progressively and irrevocably condemns it to all resignations. A number of ideologies presented have the finality of this research for individual repression in view of a utopic collective happiness. It is was Gina Pane clearly showed and denounced by licking as avidly as possible the glass of milk, first on its self, then with her full hands.

Some beings believe being able to reconcile repression and unfulfillment of desire, declare themselves, individuals conscious and respective of man and plead, for example, to maintain death penalty. This middle way is only a dead end, open to the only possibility to new repression, that a deception able to mystify further the individuals by presenting them with an abolition of an enslaving morale, thus the triumph of a progress of thought, which specifically reduces man to the rank of a machine calculating feelings, desires, individual rights. It is with an aggressive, violent, accusing laughter that Gina Pane established several times in a row the admission of failure of this attempt. It is worth noticing to underline the importance Gina Pane gives to this denunciation, that it is the first time she broke the silence (her own exterior silence) during an action. This burst of laughter from a wounded conscience is one of the hardest and most moving things Gina Pane said to this day.

More than sperm, blood is what defines life with the most immediacy. It is it that carries Gina Pane's speech, it is what sowed the intimate amalgam of milk and mint, of repression and unfulfilled desire, scattered in the middle of the glass shards, a new wish born out of a brutal destruction, of a collective refutation in view of creating an original intellectual diagram, that could be going beyond a misleading morale by the conscience of a finality possible for man, having become viable again, not by the sterile appeal to materializing sciences, but in the flesh-hope complementarity. Gina Pane's aim is the replacement of an old fashioned Manichean duality by a generous harmony.

Of all the actions revealed to this day by Gina Pane, Transfert is the one having the most insidiously defined the perturbing, protesting and corrective function of corporal art. She clarified the renovating and saving role of the artist's distress by showing the possible appearance of man rediscovered shall go through the assumed suffering of a protective conscience. Finally, on the level of the expression technique, she really led to comprehend the fact that the space of her corporal actions is not physical but mental. There is a dialogue from conscience to conscience, like a sort of coupling author-spectator, between the emitting tension and the receptive tension. Once this degree of intensity and efficiency is reached, it would be vain to insist on the quality of the chromatic discourse in the photographic observations of the action or on any other mainly pictorial criteria. It is with Gina Pane, like with all the authentic creators of the time: beauty has irremediably become the expression of a conscience refusing and assuming this refusal in its flesh.