Materials: b/w photo, canvas
Collection: Robert Filliou Estate, Paris.
Excerpt of the conversation between Robert Filliou (RF) and Irmeline Lebeer (IL), Flayosc, France, August 1976.
IL: You were speaking about Input–Output Analysis. You have made other works with ‘Analysis’, right?
RF: With ’Analysis’, I’ve made… I’d like to do that again; it’s a little bit like That Spiritual Need. But I can’t find photos here… I asked the people around Dick Higgins – including himself, and also myself, of course – to photographically define the relationship each one has with the other person. For example: in a photo, I show the relationship I have with you. And then you’re asked to show the relationship you have with me in a photo. First, on a panel, there’s for example Irmeline, and the names of all the persons to whom you show your relationship through a photo. And so it continues. There are seven panels like that and you put all the pictures together. If you read horizontally, you see the relationship of Irmeline with Robert, Paul, Pierre, etc. from her point of view. But when you look vertically, you see her relationship with the people, but from their point of view.
I call that Input –Output Analysis. This work still belongs to me. It consists of seven panels, way too large. Maybe I shouldn’t have glued the photos on the wood. I had it at ADA. The wooden panels are 1.50 × 1.50 metres. This is the relation between me and with Marika. And she, from her point of view, puts a different photo. Anne Braso, a photographer, took the pictures, except for the ones of her. They all have this size. I have the intention to do this again. It filled the whole summer there in Vermont. That gave given us an incredible complex of activities. We’re very often naked in these photos, because we went swimming in a lake near Higgins’s house. It was the easiest moment for everyone to be together after work and take photos.
There are many photos of us naked. And because of that, the contrast is less marked in the relations. My relationship of me with you and of you with me would already be different if we’re both naked by a lake. Those who weren’t used to performances thought about it for weeks. They said: ‘I’m not ready yet to take a photo.’ Especially before getting somewhere, right? It’s not easy and it’s also a dangerous game. This happened in a group that was about to disintegrate. Sexual partnerships were about to change. Higgins was going to close Something Else Press. It’s curious, that when I look back now, knowing what happened, I understand why this or that gesture was made to illustrate this or that relation. People who live together but turn their backs on each other, for example. That was revealing.
At first I had foreseen working with all the people there who were into art. In the end there were seven of us, because some didn’t want to do it. Higgins’s secretary, for example, first said yes but then she didn’t want to do it. There are fantastic things. Dick Higgins and Perry shouting at each other’s faces. Or Marika and me smoking. Emmett Williams’s son, Eugene, kicking my ass. That’s a very beautiful contrast, because is this photo I’m about to hug Eugene, saying ‘My son and my brother’, and he just kicks my ass. That’s very beautiful. And when you know the sexual relationships between those people, then you’ll understand the reasons for a certain rivalry. I’m very happy with this work. Practically no one knows it. Only those who saw it at ADA. I need to have it. It’s at Di Maggio’s but it’s mine. When we went [to Milan] the last time, I couldn’t take it in our car.
IL: The photos are from America?
RF: Yes, this was part of Research on the Eternal Network. In that project, I had Telepathic Music. It’s the Network in general. I proposed to replace the concept of avant-garde by that of the Eternal Network. I presented Input–Output Analysis, the thing from Vermont. I put together all the copies of File Magazine, the magazine published by General Idea in Toronto. I called that Research on the Dynamics of the Eternal Network. I offered 100 subscriptions to those who wanted File Magazine. That way, all interested people gave their name and address. I put the names on a piece of paper, Marcelle drew by chance to decide the winners and I paid for 101 subscriptions.
They wrote to me that they never had so many subscriptions. The most subscriptions they had were in Germany but they weren’t all Germans, even if most were. Among the Germans, not all were Berliners. Since it was a group exhibition, many people came to see it. I remember Lourdes Castro was among the names drawn. There were Japanese, Americans.
IL: Why Input–Output? Is it an economics term?
RF: It’s an extremely well known analysis due to Leontieff. It’s very complicated mathematics: the relation between what you put in it and what you take out. It’s what you use in computers. ‘Input’ is what you put in. ‘Output’ is what you take out. I’d need a doctoral student in mathematics to understand it exactly. I called it that, because I liked the phrase: everyone puts something in, and see here what comes out. What comes out is the large panel with all the pictures. While no one thinks he’s contributing to something, he’s part of all that comes out of it.
IL: I though you meant what happens in every human relation, that what you put in is what you take out…
RF: Yes: on the big panel it’s a visual thing. You have all the relations together, although everyone only contributed one thing, they are all part of the total output. When you look at it, it’s moving. It means it’s dynamic. As a performance, it was fantastic. They all said they’d spent a fantastic summer. Instead of simply going for a swim in the lake, they had something to do every day, to think about. Sometimes we took photos that didn’t work. We remade them, discussed them. We had to develop them. Look, this comes from Anne, the photographer: Robert and Anne in the dark. We let people guess. That was very enriching but diffiicult to do. What if I decided to do it here in Flayosc, suddenly? It’s very difficult to do. I’ve thought of other things for it… But I have time. It’s not urgent.
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Robert Filliou – The Secr...
13 October 2016 - 22 January 2017.
In the coming years, M HKA will dedicate a series of exhibitions to key figures of experimental art in the second half of the twentieth centu