Fictions critiques

Louise Briggs


Words are Louise Briggs’s medium; the narrative is the form in which she articulates her ideas. The originality of this young art critic’s writing arises from not being afraid to combine theory, fiction, and poetry.
How to use literature in order to explore and discuss contemporary art? What can fiction –
as a theoretical or interpretive tool – offer the field of contemporary art? These questions guide her critical practice which searches for new interpretations and different frameworks in order to think about the works of art.

Louise Briggs was born in 1980 in Carlisle (GB).
She lives and works in Glasgow (GB).

Time (Speaking)

(A short excerpt containing extracts from a fictional discussion that took place between three of the main players concerned with time. Exactly when this meeting took place is not known, but it’s insignificant and bears no influence upon the discussion.)


The courtyard of a restored Twelfth Century building located on the axis 49 North, 6 East, in the city of Metz, a building with an illustrious history that has seen it, over the years, fulfill many a role and function. It now houses the headquarters and exhibition spaces of the FRAC Lorraine.

The courtyard is entered from a medieval cobbled street, through an ornate arch contained within the boundary wall. The facades of the building run all three lengths of the square, a high tower dominating one corner. The building rise’s two stories high, with a third contained within a sloped roof. In the corner, directly ahead of the courtyards entrance, stand a small set of steps that lead into the building.

Contained within these walls are the numerous gallery spaces that circulate around these two floors. Through a number of the windows some artworks may be seen or hinted at, though those most prominent at this time are those displayed in the courtyard themselves – one unravelling around and across the entire surface of the courtyard floor, the others barely discernible unless one looks closely.

The courtyard as the setting is in accordance with the discussion. The characters are surrounded by and immersed within the artworks and the amalgamation of ideas and discourse that emanate from them. As the space that is crossed on both entering and exiting the gallery it is one that bears witness to many a curious thought, disdainful impression or insightful revelation.


In order of appearance:




The characters are situated accordingly. PAST is perched on one of the steps leading to the building’s entrance, slightly reclined, he is relaxed, his back leaning against the wall. PRESENT can be found standing in the centre of the courtyard, astute and alert, pondering the artwork unravelling around their feet. FUTURE is also standing, lingering reservedly somewhere between the two.

Having just visited the gallery spaces the three characters begin to discuss their own positions in relation to what they have just seen, deliberating their individual significances and importance.


PAST: There’s a tension in the air today, am I right?

PRESENT: I wouldn’t call it tension, perhaps more a slight anxiety.

FUTURE: (is silent)

PAST: No. I sense it’s tension, and I can assure you it’s not coming from me.

PRESENT: It’s an uncertain anxiety…yes, that’s what it is.

FUTURE: (remains silent)

PAST & FUTURE remain in their positions. PRESENT slowly begins to meander around the courtyard.

PRESENT: I suppose I’ve become overly conscious of a sense of the weight of time.

PAST: Haven’t we all?

PRESENT: Really…. I didn’t presume you would?

PAST looks slightly put out at this assumption. He remains seated on the steps but is no longer reclined moved somewhat by irritability.

PAST: You should think about what you assume.

FUTURE begins to shuffle and the others are reminded of his company.

FUTURE: Is this discussion heading where I think it’s heading.

PRESENT: Here we go. Yes, we know you’ll now say we’re covering old ground.

FUTURE: Well really. When I hear you both hark on again, about how you feel the burden of time I really wonder if you have any idea of time at all.

PAST interjects. His narration is crisp and coherent, it’s clear he’s had this discussion many times before.

PAST: No idea of time? Let me assure you I know a lot more than you about time – I’ve lived through it. You’re not even here. You have no physical presence.

FUTURE: And you have!

PAST: Perhaps not in the literal sense, but I’ve had it, and I bear the burden of it. The weight of history, of memories, of nostalgia… the lot, and may I remind you, all of these bear an influence on the both of you! You in particular I hasten to add.

FUTURE: I realise that and am aware that you have much to show us (FUTURE looks at PRESENT) and we have much to learn from you, but with regards to the burden of time you’re only carrying it because you choose to, you can relinquish it to us now if you so wish.

PRESENT subtly nods in agreement. FUTURE continues.

FUTURE: It’s your own personal nostalgia and history that is preventing you from your own relief if you ask me.

PAST: But my guidance is endless and I bear a certain responsibility with that.

PAST appears agitated by the challenge and a despondent look crosses his face.

PRESENT: If we’re talking about responsibility, try being the here and now, it’s no easy-ride. I am the living moment.

FUTURE: The ‘moment’. That’s exactly what you are, a moment. You come and go in the blink of an eye – where is the responsibility in that?

PRESENT walks towards FUTURE looking as though he’s deliberating his attack. PAST sits back again, though slightly irked he takes the time to listen and digest the discussion. FUTURE continues his argument to stall PRESENT.

FUTURE: I’m the imagination, the expectation and hope! How can I possibly fulfil all of these roles? It’s a huge burden, made more difficult by being undefined and nebulous.

PRESENT: Don’t you see you should be taking comfort in the luxury of all these things you talk about. Rejoice in the excitement that you’re always beginning and are not immutably fixed.

FUTURE: The same could be said for you, you have the delight of being the ‘now’. A moment existing as merely an instant, then it’s gone. How could one be anxious?

PRESENT: I am what make’s you. You are all my ‘instants’ and all my ‘now’s’. Would you like that I am reckless with this time.

FUTURE: It would not matter. These ‘moments’ or ‘instants’ you speak of are so fleeting they are almost nothing. They only take shape because I imagine and anticipate them and he (points to PAST) remembers and chronicles them.

PRESENT: Ah, but don’t you see what that means. You are both illusions that exist through me.
All three characters are now congregated around the steps. PAST having taken some time to listen to and contemplate their thoughts begins his ruminations. The discussion is moving towards being personal and he wishes to avoid all out confrontation.

PAST: This argument is going nowhere. If the truth be told (looking at FUTURE) you don’t know yourself. How can you feel troubled by that which is unknown?…

FUTURE interrupts PAST preventing him from continuing.

FUTURE: No but I know you! And I can choose to forget you, re-invent you and disregard you if I do so wish!

PAST: That may be. But I’m fact! I’m not that easy to forget and or erase.

FUTURE: You’re only ever just passing time. Where is you’re challenge?

PAST: Passing time! May I rectify that? I’m preserving time. As I said before I can make your life easier!

FUTURE turns away for the moment and begins to wander across the courtyard muttering to him self. PRESENT bides somewhere in between trying to make out both FUTURE’s inaudible utterances, whilst also remain attentive to what PAST has to say.

PAST: As I was trying to saying… How can you (looking at FUTURE) feel troubled by that which is unknown… you are placing an incredible pressure on ones-self in doing so. You too (facing PRESENT) need to remember to simply possess the here and now, there isn’t the time to brood over your anxieties…

PAST stalls a second and continues.

PAST: … I know I should also take heed of what I am saying, and what you have told me, and relieve myself of my own apprehension and fear.

PRESENT looks a little perplexed and tired.

PRESENT: How can I hope to deal with such complexity?

PAST: You don’t, at least not alone anyway. We are all one and the same.

PRESENT: My head hurts.

A church bell is heard chiming in the distance as the three characters begin to drift into their own thoughts and the discussion for the time being draws to a close.

PAST begins to recline upon the step once again with a dignified look of resignation. PRESENT remains much the same, middling somewhere between the two with a look of disorientation. FUTURE appears still to be muttering to himself but with a noticeable twinkle in his eye.

Time (Past, Present & Future) is permanently at the FRAC Lorraine Gallery for discussion.

Inspired by the work Time (spoken), Ian Wilson 1982. Verbal intervention purchased by the FRAC Lorraine in 2008 & presented in the group exhibition A Serpentine Gesture and Other Prophecies 15 January – 01May 2011