Robert Filliou


Mixed Media, 78 x 28 x 10.4 cm.
Materials: wood, bricks, mirror, paper

Collection: Collection Robelin, Paris.

Excerpt of the conversation between Robert Filliou (RF) and Irmeline Lebeer (IL), Flayosc, France, August 1976.

RF: The thing with I’m Dying Too Much dates from all the way back when we lived in this little something at 36, rue des Rosiers [in Paris]. I suggested to Véra Spoerri that she should take pictures of me at any time of the day, for one whole day. The title would be I’m Dying Too Much. I suggested many things to Véra, but we were too broke, you see.
            Another thing I wanted to make, as an autobiography at rue des Rosiers, would have been a series of photos of everyone in the building from the front and behind, and the last ones would be us: Marianne, Marcelle and then me. The title would have been Nul n’est prophète, 36, rue des Rosiers, Paris 4ème (Nobody Is a Prophet, 36, rue des Rosiers, Paris, 4th.).
            I mailed this, without the photos, as an autobiographical note for a catalogue for a thing I did in Aachen in 1964. And just to show you how poor we were, we were wondering who was going to pay for that. Who was going to buy the materials and have it developed? It would have been an interesting document, one of the portable projects. It should have had a photo of Queen Fabiola, the concierge. The first time I met her, the room where she lived was so clean that I gave her this nickname. Since then, we called her Queen Fabiola among ourselves… She was one of these Parisian ladies, so picturesque, who must have been drinking a lot at the time. Her nose was a bit red. She limped. She had a dog and a cat, Paulette. We got along very well. We’d have Queen Fabiola, all the people downstairs who made kosher sausages, our neighbours from Martinique. Marcelle used to say he was the Good Lord. It was the first time she’d seen someone black. She was two.

IL: Yes, she also brought poetry into your life.

RF: Genius is in the child… I still have something in my documents called Good Lord, Dear to Marcelle. That must still be in the notes, which I’ll find again one day…

IL: As you wish, but I’m in favour of mentioning this.

RF: If it’s on tape, I’d be happy to include a homage to Queen Fabiola. We’ll put it under ‘Aborted Projects’, if you want, because that’s foreseen: Nobody Is a Prophet, 36, rue des Rosiers, Paris, 4th. I think I still have the stamp I used for the suspense poems. We could put it there also.
            There are other projects that haven’t been realised, but this one is worth including. I’m exactly like every other artist. My lists are already unrealised projects. Maybe, as we were just saying, it was just a place we liked very much, rue des Rosier. We lived there for three years, in a neighbourhood we loved. That’s not bad, maybe. Many things happened. A rather intense creative period.

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