Drinking gold

Work : Drinking gold

Concrete iron, resin, gold leaf, banknotes, scraps of fabric
Installation as part of the ZAT2019 Montpellier Métropole. Curator Nicolas Bourriaud

Location : Montpellier, France. 2019.

(TAFTA statue: Co-production L’atelier Blanc, contemporary art space / Les Abattoirs Toulouse.)

Reference text :

“…We came to look for the oriental drug, the honeyed medicine, the drinkable gold which prolongs life, and then also the mysterious remedy which was composed at night in the second back room, behind the big green stills and the packets balm…” This is how Flaubert described the “revered home of a good apothecary”.
So the idea came to me to discreetly add to the outdated objects exhibited in the back room, a small golden calf, first to be taken as a witness to the bestiary as abundant as it was extraordinary which entered into the composition. ancestral pharmacopoeias such as the famous Theriaque of Montpellier;
Medicine being a large part of the international reputation of Montpellier and being myself a former rifleman of the city, I naturally wanted to address the subject of health and care for 100 artists. The old apothecary of the work of La Miséricorde was the ideal place.
Following in the footsteps of the writer, I also intended to highlight through its materiality the particular place of gold in apothecary, a place which itself opens onto the entire alchemical imagination.
Because gold is the pharmakôn par excellence, sometimes a remedy, sometimes a poison, depending on the dose and especially the intention. And this ambivalence alone sums up the constraints that tug contemporary public health, perpetually required to choose between two inclinations: the altruistic vocation on the one hand, the mercantile temptation on the other.
First of all, altruism, of which the charitable work of Mercy is of course an excellent illustration. Charity being one of the three theological virtues supposed to guide the faithful in their transcendent relationship with the divine. This Christian aspiration will be continued after the old regime and it will inspire our modern hospitals as well as a certain universality of French care that the world envy.
Then venality. And the expression “apothecary accounts” reminds us of the mercantile origins of a profession which has not always had a good reputation. Thus the Latin Apothecarius means shopkeeper and this activity was for a long time confused with that of a grocer.
At a time when public authorities are questioning the financial viability of our public health system and the demand for profitability sometimes leads to health scandals, the care economy can only be a fragile balance between these aspirations. contradictory
And it is to question this dilemma and put it in dialogue with the historical and charitable context of the apothecary of the Work of Mercy that I wanted to place a golden calf in the 18th century room opposite screw the virginal statue.
Because the golden calf also refers of course to the myth present in the three religions of the book, that of a people abandoned to their own materialistic idolatry that Moses will punish by making them eat the golden remains of the animal furiously reduced to dust . The evil once again becoming a remedy in a dazzling reversal of the situation.
A paradox also illustrated by this Montpellier place located on “L’Isle de la currency”, founded and then managed by the wives of members of the Court of Auditors and wealthy notables with the sole aim of providing free care and attention to the most deprived. of this city…

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