À la merci, 1988–2011
Sound installation with 2 speakers
and screen with English subtitles
Edition 3 (+ 2 A.P.)
A la merci (At the mercy) is composed by a sound recording presented as an archive and subtitled translations on a screen. A child dictates words one by one, syllable by syllable forming convoluted sentences that are repeated by an adult voice. While in this piece some of Petitgand’s preoccupations are revealed - including the relationship with language, its enunciation, the meaning conveyed by voice, musicality, as well as words - it also seems disjointed with other installations in this exhibition. Instead of a spatially open sound that guides viewers through the space, here the viewer is invited into a linear and fixed listening.
At the side, off set from the frontality of the listening, a screen broadcasts the English translation of each word, a visual transfer resuming the scansion, the stammering and the repetitions of the sentence under construction.
This audio document glides doubt over its own reliability. It takes the appearance of a crude sequence that stages an obviously unreal situation: a child barely knowing how to speak dictates long, inaudible and unreadable sentences that in their entirety sound as the writings of an artist, an invitation to discover the other pieces, a preamble, an encoded explanation of the exhibition.