"Une sorte de Dieu fluide"
"On May 16th 1856, Victor Hugo bought a house at no.38 Hauteville, in the unique little town of St Peter Port in Guernsey. There he lived bound in affairs and literature for fourteen years and then only episodically after the Third French Republic was proclaimed. His life ended somehow in Paris. Though, the Nation celebrated him with ostentation fit for a King Poet, he was remarkably escorted by the dead; death and madness wearing faces of close relatives. Brussels, then Jersey, he was successively expelled and brought to the island next door. This is where, in his last banishment, Une sorte de Dieu fluide ..... overflowed into the poet's inspiration
I can certainly go and visit Hauteville House, smell one of his favourite snuff-boxes, gaze at a laundry receipt in a glass case, walk the stairs up to the look-out and face, with meditation, the infinite waves and the beach girls. I can look back into my Lagarde and Michard secondary school book (XIXth century of course). I would gather much here and there: that he loved turning tables and prostitutes assuming he was lyrical and epical. That he would have his oysters raw as a Frenchman and tea at teatime as a civilised guest. That he could raise a flag showing his heart to Juliette rather than his honour to Adele. I can get a lot of his posthumous exoticism
In a twenty square metre room there are enough walls to walk around, hands crossed behind one's back. Just as many shores on a fifteen by four kilometre island. Walk: wandering measured in feet and words. The "fluid" state of exile that crosses stones as well as foam, the fossil memory and the smell of the sea. Where to encounter Hugo and his manichaean ghosts: a white one, turned towards the sky and a black one, facing down to material things. This is how we like them the Good and the Evil, the light and the dark, at dawn or dusk, whenever they have a chance to merge
On a wall a writing is dropped, like fresh fish from the daily tide. White and soft, expressive but silent ideographs that look like meringues which would be ingested or spoken. They are plaster castings, out of twenty six hollow, gutted morsels of insular life. I found some, walking around. Students brought me others. Soon to be broken pieces of words
On a wall a picture expands. The black layer of acrylic paint slowly retires. The pressure of the chalk gives birth to a constellation. This is the grain of the wall. White dust which betrays its hidden infinity; some childish and celestial sand. Yet we knew walls had ears. They can whisper long retained sighs. Soon to be swallowed in whiteness"
Daniel Brandely January 1997