Tania Mouraud

Born in 1942 in Paris (FR)
Lives and works in Paris (FR)


Digital printing on stretched tarpaulin
15 x 30 m
Year of Purchase: 2001

Whoever sees will understand.
Reserved for just a few viewers, as it can only be seen from the top of the building’s dovecote tower, this Monumental piece is on the scale of the landscape, being inscribed on a large blind wall at the far end of a disused area. Around 30 × 15 m, it is like scenery foreground in keeping with the size of the city; in the background lie buildings, the cathedral, a few factories, with hills further behind them. The black and white script contrasts with the yellow colour of the local stone. The text stands out through the size of these long letters, tapered like knives, and most of all it stands out through its meaning.

Continuing where the NI1 piece, to which Frac Lorraine has bought rights, left off, Tania Mouraud let out a scream of revolt taken from the Schoenberg opera A Survivor of Warsaw, in which the narrator recounts in English the SS invasion of the ghetto. ‘The texts are inscribed in such a way as to look like decorative patterns, with the letters extremely drawn out. Reading what is written takes a little time. I work for viewers who take the time to discover and understand.’2 Tania Mouraud here touches on the subversive paradox of lan¬guage. At first glance, the work looks almost incomprehensible, but innocently leads the viewer to decipher the message. The meaning jumps out at you if you bother to look hard enough. ‘How can you sleep?’ sounds like a wakeup call regarding all the things we shut our eyes to. ‘The trace that language has to transcribe from the unwitnessed is not the words of the unwitnessed. It is the words of the language, that which comes about when the word was no longer in the beginning.’3

Tania Mouraud is constantly rethinking the pictorial act as she integrates a conceptual mode, language, as a medium for questioning our perception of space. Her wall paintings in the form of statements, which are always site-specific and, question the act of seeing. Tania Mouraud diverts the decorative, which becomes commitment. For her, ‘doing art’ means combining a sensory and perceptual experience while positioning oneself in relation to the realities of the world.

Béatrice Josse

1 City performance n° 1, 1977-1978, 400 × 300 cm, silkscreen poster.

2 Tania Mouraud, in Arnauld Pierre, Tania Mouraud, Flammarion, La création contemporaine, Paris, 2004.

3 Giorgio Agamben, Ce qui reste d’Auschwitz, Payot et Rivages, Paris, 1998. (English translation Remnants of Auschwitz : The Witness and the Archive.)