In the street, red posters with white lettering: “WE ARE ALL WRITERS. YOU HAVE THE OPPORTUNITY TO COME AND WRITE YOUR BOOK, SIGN IT, AND TAKE IT HOME, AT STAND 532, LOCATED IN THE EXHIBIT HALL AT THE INTERNATIONAL BOOK FESTIVAL.” Provocation? Affirmation? Questioning?
2- Inside the festival, in a space added for the occasion with tables, chairs, pencils, and paper, guests have the opportunity to write whatever they feel without censorship. As they write, the texts written here throughout the festival (it’s the rule of the game) are assembled and printed.
3- Jean-Pierre Giovanelli and Jean-Paul Thénot propose to the visitors to be the coauthors and co-owners of a book written, printed, and signed on the spot during the International Book Festival. This project recreates all the steps in the making of a book: conception, writing, publishing, production, signing…
4- AGREEMENT by the parties herein: The coauthors of the book entitled Nous sommes tous des écrivains, anthology produced at the proposal of Jean-Pierre Giovanelli and Jean-Paul Thénot at the International Book Festival in Nice, May 12-17, 1978, agree to: 1) refer to the Law of March 11, 1957; 2) in accordance with Article 10 of said Law, accept that the printing of this edition be strictly limited to a number equal to that of its coauthors, plus thirty to be sent to the laboratory; and 3) authorize Jean-Pierre Giovanelli and Jean-Paul Thénot to exhibit, analyze, and have analyzed the publication and its method of production.
5- This artistic practice essentially concerning communication and social stimulation aims to demystify and question the creative and literary processes at the level of mental and socio-economic conditioning.
6- At the same time as the writing (word), another book of filmed interviews (image) is being written by the career writers convened at the festival for book signings. We inquire as to their position on our work. In no particular order, we cite: Alain Decaux, Jean-Edern Hallier, Michel Droit, Ionesco, Lucien Bodard, Michel Poniatowski, Robert Merle, Jean Marais, the Duchess of Bedford, Bernard Pivot, Vilém Flusser, Pierre Cochereau, Patrick Poivre d'Arvor, Jean d'Ormesson, Bernard Gavoty, Abraham Moles, Jean Medecin, Françoise d'Eaubonne, Bernard-Henry Levy, Jacques Faizant, Marie Cardinal, Pierre Miguel, François Chalais, Jacques Chancel...
7- Several writers are coauthors of the book: Lucien Bodard, Pierre Miguel, Ionesco, Patrick Poivre d'Arvor, Marie Cardinal, Bernard Pivot. In addition, the illustrators: Greg, Wiaz, Redon, Fred.
8- This stand is the only place in the Book Festival where anyone writes.
9- After four days, we have to stop, given the large number of people and texts, to keep our bet for Wednesday afternoon (day of the signing), for each copy for some 160 participants to be printed and ready to take home.
10- The last day of the festival, all copies of the book are printed, as many as there were participants, plus several copies for later analysis.
11- Physically, it is quite an achievement: seven or eight of us worked nearly 18 hours a day… a group of people who didn’t know each other and met through this activity…
12- The list of coauthors is an integral part of the book, each copy capable of communicating without us at a later time… these future connections triggered by the process escaping us.
13- The process is begun as a stimulant for communication. Many things afterwards escape us: the various dedications signed by the coauthors, their discussions, the meetings that arose during the signing, the blank page at the end of the book proposed by Françoise Chauveau that leaves this work definitively unfinished…
14- In 1450, Gutenberg invented the printing press and moveable type…
15- The writing of the coauthors is no longer handwritten but objectified, “printed.” It’s not yet a very great distancing (it’s not very “hard,” i.e., IBM print), but at least it’s “mechanical.”
16- Did Mac Luhan kill Gutenberg? In fact, it seems that the visual penetration of our time is quasi nonexistent… There is a certain inability to decode, analyze, interpret the image, which is even more surprising since we are supposed to be in a century where the image has supplanted (?) the written word… Scrambled images (TV…) swallowed without chewing.
17- The canvas is followed by the social fabric: the grinding of colors and stretching on a frame is replaced by experimenting with a group of people, a representative sample, and a video… The representation of reality is succeeded by the questioning of that social reality and how it functions.
18- The great subjectivity of the artist gives way to intersubjectivity and communication. The myth of the artist dissolves in a collective work of art. Art is no longer an object of speculation but a mental production, a social participation, a questioning…
19- A rupture is currently taking place. The participation in Nous sommes tous des écrivains visualizes it and shows both the epistemological connection maintained with the social sciences, and the distance, by the corruption instituted at the level of methods and objectives.
20- The essential material of this practice is the social field. The problems are no longer focused on methods of transformation of the physical material but on the transformation of the social and mental space. This artistic practice that takes into account the socioeconomic aspects and the social reality is a questioning, not to comfort the established order or to suggest a new system of responses, but to question the social relationships with the aim of transforming them.
21- Coauthors and co-owners, the guests participate in the demystification of creation and book writing, as well as of certain intellectual and socioeconomic processes, from conception to actual production. A book, an object ordinarily considered subjective, is produced collectively. The social connection is real: no exquisite corpse, no esthetic discourse, each person is co-owner.
22- Even if a later analysis (at various levels—sociological, esthetic, linguistic…) allows the release of themes, contents, frequencies… this “material” is not finality. In no case will it serve as a later manipulation. This work is non-coercive and is at the level of questioning.
23- Paradoxes: Ordinarily, an author dedicates a book to the readers; here, the coauthors were dedicating the book to the other coauthors…
23 bis- Paradoxes: The book printing is limited to the number or coauthors to avoid future commercialization, but the rarity of the copies provokes a return to the commercial issue…
23 ter- Paradoxes: initial technical questions for the book: How many pages? (?); How many people? (?); How many reams of paper are needed? (?); How much time for printing? (?); How many copies? (?)… So many unsolvable questions from the onset…
24- The written thing: mystification and demystification; everything is done under the gaze of everyone.
25- The establishment of networks of mass broadcast (TV, press…), in accelerating information, has caused a noncommunication, a unilateral information. Our approach is centered on communication, a new theme in art history. Exclusive hermetism is replaced by the practice of dialogue.
26- The participation is conducted within the social fabric starting from the field of knowledge in sociology and with the aim of exerting a questioning and critical function into the social environment.
27- The proposed questioning does not aim to impose laws or response systems, even dogmatic conclusions, but to establish a dialog. It is non coercive and non manipulative.
28- We bypass the narrow frame of the artistic micro-milieu in order to work outside the gallery or museum: in the street, with a diverse public or mass media. Our practice is opposed to the fetishism of objects. Our practice doesn’t “produce” anything.
29- This artistic practice no longer belongs to some inspiration, but to the problem of meaning. It is didactic, inasmuch as by practicing in the global social field and the art field, it is directed at questioning and conditioning coming from social determinism, in order to provoke changes in behavior.
30- The will to oppose logic and the irrational or dialectic also shakes up the traditional relationships between artist, critic, (exclusive) public, and work of art. (What is art?...)
Convention liant Jean-Pierre Giovanelli, Jean-Paul Thénot et les auteurs
Technique description référence:
Convention liant Jean-Pierre Giovanelli, Jean-Paul Thénot et les auteurs
Jean-Pierre Giovanelli pour Jean-Paul Thenot et lui-même | Nous sommes tous des écrivains, 1978
The participation ended with a signing by all the authors, which, given their number, created considerable confusion. A few writers at the festival reacted violently, arguing that it was an affront to the book trade, which was entirely correct. The event was thus a success.