First of all, it must be said that trembling is not uncertainty, that it is not fear, that it is not what paralyses us. Trembling thinking – and to my mind, all utopia passes through this thought – is first of all the instinctive feeling that we must refuse all categories of rigid thinking and all categories of imperial thinking. Thought that organizes itself into a system and tries to put order, its own order, into the world, is a thought against which we can raise this trembling thinking, which is the knowledge or the attempt at real knowledge of what is happening in the world today. In the Whole-World, everything trembles. The Whole-World trembles physically, geologically, mentally, spiritually, because the Whole-World is looking for this point, I would not say this station, but this utopian point where all the cultures of the world, all the imaginations of the world, can meet and hear one another without being dispersed or getting lost.
The exhibition Tremblings presents a selection of contemporary works acquired by the Nouveau Musée National de Monaco over the last ten years. From the installation Alien by the South African artist Candice Breitz, which entered the collections in 2010, to the film The White Album by the American Arthur Jafa, acquired in 2021, the exhibition brings together seventeen artists of twelve different nationalities, offering an equal number of visions of our globalised and fractured societies. What all the artists have in common is a response to the definition of “trembling thinking” which, in the words of the poet Édouard Glissant, “unites us in absolute diversity, in a whirlwind of encounters”.
Seismographs of the contemporary world, the artists Yinka Shonibare CBE (RA), Sylvie Blocher,Arthur Jafa, Helen Johnson and Clément Cogitore invite us to decentre the gaze and decolonize thought; Candice Breitz, Latifa Echakhch and Petrit Halilaj question the identity-based foundations of popular cultures; the transdisciplinary practices of Brice Dellsperger, Pauline Boudry and Renate Lorenz and Nan Goldin have taken the visibility of queer cultures as a trigger for their work; finally, Steve McQueen, Apostolos Georgiou, Hans Schabus, Katinka Bock and Laure Prouvost focus on the processes of representation and the disappearance of the body.
During the 1960s, the poet and philosopher Édouard Glissant, author of Treatise on the Whole-World and Poetics of Relation, had a project for a museum on his native island of Martinique. This museum was not built there, but it has given rise to several exhibitions, and Hans Ulrich Obrist, who shared Glissant’s outlook, has made its outlines known through numerous interviews. Defying the imperialist model, Glissant had developed an experimental and transdisciplinary project, “a museum that seeks”, as opposed to Western museums that “have found”. The inventor of the concept of mondialité, a form of global exchange that preserves diversity through creolisation, defined his museum as “the place where places in the world are brought into contact with other places in the world”, thus aiming for a great diversity of representations and a multiplicity of voices, emphasising the individual sensibility of artists over the great universalist narratives. Through his writings and various exhibitions, Glissant has helped redefine the role of the museum in the 21st century.
Laying claim to the heritage of Glissant’s idea of a museum, the exhibition Tremblings. Recent Acquisitions by the Nouveau Musée National de Monaco casts light on the acquisitions made under the direction of Marie-Claude Beaud between 2009 and 2021.
After having directed institutions as diverse as the Fondation Cartier pour l’Art Contemporain, the American Center, the Union Centrale des Arts Décoratifs in Paris and the Mudam in Luxembourg, Marie-Claude Beaud developed her vision of the contemporary museum in Monaco inspired by the poetry of Édouard Glissant and his aesthetic of the Whole-World. The collections of the NMNM have thus been enriched in a transdisciplinary and inclusive manner, and in constant dialogue with contemporary artists. While ensuring the study and preservation of works of art linked to the Monaco of the past and the modern era, the NMNM is committed to developing a heritage that includes the most contemporary art. Based on themes defined by taking into consideration the history of Monaco and its territory, its acquisition policy has made it possible to support and represent a great diversity of views and voices within the national collections.
*Édouard Glissant and Hans Ulrich Obrist, “Utopie de la ville et du musée. L’espace et le temps” in Conversations (selected extracts). Booklet produced for Nuit Blanche 2013 by the City of Paris, artistic direction by Chiara Parisi and Julie Pellegrin, co-produced with the Institut du Tout-Monde and Agence à Paris