MB from DE to RE
by Maura Teofili 2011
The true story of the existentialist thought of Brenda Walsh.
The artist is present
The artist is wounded
The artist is fragile
The artist is his story and his body
The artist is his answers (or lack of)
The artist is his necessity
This necessity is the only preliminary concept allowed in art.
What is the best observation post from which to look at an artist work?
Here is the premise.
Here is the key.
My name is Miguel Bonneville.
I was born in January 1985, in Porto, Portugal.
My work is autobiographical.
It is about destroying and reconstructing identity.
Destroying and reconstructing the past. I
work in the fields of live art, performance and visual arts.
No matter how you start taking a closer look at Miguel Bonneville all you get to see at first is a blank field.
A field of definite presence and honesty.
A field where the artist is naked, exposed, self-affirming and firmly aware of himself and his work, in a constant search along a steady, clear and all-encompassing path.
Those are coherent, courageous words, willingly used by the artist to front his own work, which are inherent to his name, his personal story and his birth date; those are statements that turn into reading keys given to those who come into contact with his layered and enlightening universe, and that in the end hold themselves all the answers to the questions one might have when analyzing Miguel Bonneville's work in performance, fine art, photography, video and music.
Miguel Bonneville works on identity, the present's identity, to which every human being, himself first and foremost, is exposed.
In this present time which threatens us because of its being inside every instant, we are products of the path which has led us here, but only in relation to our ability to relate with, and most importantly to be responsible of, what we are made of.
Handling, choosing, chiseling our past, our fatal childhood, our tangle of scars, bruises and reflections, there lies the matter of that responsibility; to look what we are made of straight in the face and turn it into a useful tool for the shaping of the individuals of the present that we are, for ourselves, in every single moment.
Never equal to himself.
Never truly innocent.
Never truly immune.
Never truly unharmed.
And yet never truly doomed.
No one but the man himself could pass his own sentence through not fighting the distressing battle of looking back to turn what he sees of his rubble and his own road, building materials of his present self.
Only the man has the power to put himself at the mercy of his own fragilities and miseries, to phagocytize himself, to be able to finally play the real role of the executioner. No matter what pains one has been through.
This Miguel Bonneville knows of himself.
This emerges from his art and is spread around.
This he lives on his skin, every day.
Miguel gets dressed, naked and immortalized – in and over himself - through his work, using pictures, drawings and metaphorical alter egos, immanently exposed and present to the audience. He discovers and exposes clothes and sonic or visual levels like existential layers, never refusing any but facing and choosing them; even better as he crosses these layers he work on, he gets soaked in them without keeping any, rather he digests them so that they become structural parts of himself.
He really does that, he's there for the high value that he gives to that moment in the wider context of his path. Despite choosing to pass through it -firstly or again- not even he knows where that existential narrowing in his route will take him.
He fades, through pictures, videos, actions, through what he carries on himself and what he is, through his mother and father, through love and despair, through what saved him and what he has chosen to refuse, through the need to sort himself out and the everlasting propensity to get lost.
He's a new frame yet he's overexposed, he's naked yet he's dressed as an animal, he's definitely present yet his voice is heard through a statue carved out of pyroceram, or he embodies other people's essence using words. Other persons, other selves.
He is, like we all are.
There is a play of layers and levels that represents us; there is a play of layers and levels that fucks us mercilessly.
Using those very levels Miguel Bonneville plays with this ambivalent standpoint in Art while revealing, suggesting and declaring it, beyond what he maintains to be doing he reveals it and explains it.
He doesn't want to give lessons or teachings, he wants to talk of himself through what makes him and what he objectively knows of himself and yet, fatally, he gets much beyond that.
Thus, the artistic work on clothes, objects, animal pictures, transvestism, is more than a gender or a colorful element, is more than a personal feature but rather is one of the constitutional elements of a research on language that the considerably in-depth structure of his artistic discourse discloses beyond doubt; a language (made of pop metaphors, elegance, knowing use of body movement, light, recorded or amplified voice) which encompasses various artistic expressions all used by MB with firm coherence by means of expressing himself.
It's a language that grows and gets stratified as it becomes more and more refined through the passing of time and the constant asking, a language which becomes ever thinner and useful to his discourse without the risk of it being uselessly and aesthetically reasoned or deceitfully thrust upon the viewer.
A language which translates a ferocious need, an urgency, which is a path in itself and goes beyond that in an impressively natural way, showing its directness without striving to become simple, univocal and easily understood.
The question it answers is primitive; it is placed before the worry of how would the work be received by the listener and maybe this is why it actually gets to a true meaning, an honesty that is rarely noticed in the chaotic mayhem and too often fruitlessly vain so-called Contemporary Art.
Miguel Bonneville's means are purely his own need and his lone, superhuman, conquered courage to face in the most honest and desperate meaning his life.
MB is a present artist.
Present, even before than visual or performing.
Present, no matter the form his necessity to speak is conveyed through.
An artist who through his works declares the subjective, the particular, the mechanism discovered in itself, the private answer found to his pain and to the abyss but at the same time, as if by reflection, he lightens and expresses the universal individual's dimension in the present, the reasons of a generational void, the role and the standing of a contemporary art who can truly call itself both art and contemporary.
That MB's inspiration for his work is chiefly autobiographical doesn't take any of its universal value off, if anything it actually increases it, along with the necessity and the definite urgency of expression inherent within: it is in a single story introduced with this heartbreaking and disarming honesty that the connection to that stratified and problematic nucleus is realized, that which lies within all of us, which we see unfolding by us, which we are forced to face everyday in the others' fake resoluteness.
The biography is here used as a means of personal investigation, which is why it reaches a more general level, by crossing a life path through experiences rather than through mere anecdotes. It becomes an unbiased pointing out of the dimension, rarely acknowledged, of the present time's man, who is locked in the relationship with his own story and past, his childhood and the glossy picture of a common ordinariness devoid of any sense. As Miguel Bonneville's personal history is unreservedly exposed without any moralistic or conceptual pretense, it becomes a convex lens capable of magnifying to the eyes of the beholders a tragic dimension generally denied, which this artist has personally faced with great courage, but which is mutual and which ravages internally, as we all have been immortalized in an happy picture to which we don't belong, nailed between what of our story stuck to us and what we have consciously fought becoming adults.
Bonneville reveals the patina which hit him first and foremost, reveals his own pain, screams his troubled search for answers to love and its multiplicity and in doing so he inexorably exposes everyone to their own. He screams (metaphorically) that life is nothing but an entr'acte between an apparent intolerable image and violence.
It may look harmless, colorful, tidy and attractive but it truly is an incurable silence that waits for us, its jaws gaped.
It disguises itself to harm us, and we in turn must disguise ourselves to protect us.
It's the evidence of this awareness that MB puts at our disposal.
An everyday courage, which he expresses and embodies is needed in order to manage the thousand different existential layers that we are made of, that weigh on us and that hinder our movements as if we were a filled bag. If we allow them to do so.
That silly bunch of deposits and constructions can unwind, it is up to us to deconstruct it. While MB acts it out on stage for himself we cannot but feel involved.
It is up to us to get undressed of every element and to then selectively choose those we keep and those we leave behind, aware that they are both ours.
It is up to us to cross that pain. It's up to us to understand ourselves and handle us as composite identities.
The artist himself describes his own work as “the only solution that guarantees my sanity” (in this he is again exposed, honest, total) but it is in the expression, in the density, in the search for language, in the conceptual and existential knot that he can make his work transcend the therapeutical, auto-analytical exercise for its own sake; it is in the superhuman answer that Miguel Bonneville lives and expresses through art; it is in the subversive passage between DE and RE (destroy to rebuild, deconstruct to recreate) which he embodies and offers to the world that his work transcends that single individual experience it is devoted to and fully becomes Art.
To truly create a story to live, one needs to stop believing to those that we willingly tell to ourselves everyday, hidden below tons of missed looks, lack of courage and polite falseness. We have to dismantle them piece by piece.
The true lie to defuse is the bourgeois nihilistic patina that rests on our days, those of everyone, the “nothing happened” germ, that of saying “it is not talked about”, “no matter what happens we're always happy”, “we're good-looking, our dish is full, pain doesn't concern us, it stays away”.
It is the feverish attempt at living, thinking we are left unscathed.
No, it's not true.
And so at once the matter becomes, with every evidence, of an undeniable collective social (I'd say even political) necessity.
The photograph that needs to be torn, to be held up to the light, to be examined beyond its apparent fixity is that of everyone's family, our own portrait.
Such is the collective urgency that fatally meets that of the individual of this extraordinarily mature Portuguese artist. It is the irredeemable need of shaking very hard, to the bottom, an hypocrisy.
we all are wounded.
we all are fragile.
we all are our stories and our bodies.
we just have to be made aware of.
we have to come back to presence. to presence itself.
we have to be firmly brought back, forward, elsewhere.
Through his story, his need and his presence Miguel Bonneville does reach that point. I don't think we can actually ask more to art.