Monday, June 11, 2012

Introducing Le Faouët - St. Fiacre

Inkpot Monsters
Again, all I can do is jump into the fray. The eco-fray. The tumultuous world of the jubé of Le Faouët.  It's late, and I'm headed out again early early tomorrow morning, so just a few glimpses for now. My thoughts are more unformed than they've ever been about a project, and yet I don't think I've ever been more excited. I brought Tim Morton's Ecology without Nature along for the ride (an excellent lunch companion) to make me uncomfortable about any definition of nature I might have thought I might have had. Good.  So now, to revel and quake in/at all the possibilities. First, monsters who write. The one on the left looks back to Saint Martin being baptized, the one on the right to two women. They may or may not be in relation to them (and part of the point in the essay will be to talk about an entity that constantly collapses - iconographically, narratively - even physically if I factor in the insects which had rendered most of the jubé a "dry sponge" until it was vaccum packed (move over Christo!) ten years ago, infiltrated with insecticide and then injected with resin and silicone - wow!)).

Renart preaching
Yipee! Three scenes pulled from the Roman de Renart which I only know through books from my childhood. Eager to read whatever edition of the medieval text is at Gibert Joseph. I think a lot about Jacqueline Jung's terrific statement about sculptors highlighting the "sensory domains peculiar to their medium" (I think that's it - memorized!) and here, beholding Renart gripping his wooden pulpit on a wooden jubé (from whose tribune the priest preached) really drives her point home.

Hovering angel

Angel soles - ha! ha! (oof!)

Suspended Man
If you think that's great (and it really, truly is - they are so very much perched for flight), then check out this Suspended Man on the other side of the jubé (we're on the east now, with the altar behind us, where only the clergy and nobility stood.  I'm fascinated by the movement of his hair - it seems to be responding to gravity, as though he were mid-swing. Something that I'm very eager to work out is that all of the socle figures on the east side seem quite alarmed at their precarious suspension. (Well, those who can't fly - there's a duck and a goose who are unperturbed, but whose webbed feet as splayed, as though for landing).  Where the angels hover gracefully on the west side, two men, a cat, and a monkey are totally freaking out on the east side - why this mimesis here?

Biniou Man

The famed biniou of Breton music lore! Slighted as an allegory of laziness!  Rats!

Biniou Man's Monkey

No wait! Monkeys! This monkey, right under Biniou Man, to be specific. Howling (less before the damage, but I love the trace of red paint inside his mouth) and clinging to his socle.  A Music Mimicking Monkey if there ever was one.

Branch Man

And then this guy is a mystery: a man holding a branch (I think) beneath his chin. Medieval friends, what think ye?

The floor of Le Faouët
And last but not least, the incredible moss floor of Le Faouët.  It's like this especially in the eastern end, all around the altar, which produces this fantastic bright green effect. For you see, Le Faouët was built atop a river (a gallo-roman fountain is still nearby) and the water seeps up continuously - there is not a single dry stone in the entire place.  Soon after the chapel's construction was initiated, the daughter of de Boutteville made a donation for a hospital to be built next to eat - healing waters.  The hospital was torn down long ago (although the modern hospital is only a few blocks away even today), but the dedication stone remains. It's been embedded in the house next door which is guarded by two growling dogs, so I couldn't get a good shot. Will have to bring those guys a treat tomorrow to get closer.  Ah, art history!

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