I call you from the crossroads
Come and be good to me
And treat me right
Who knows the direction the winds will blow?
Come and kiss me softly in this hard life
Whisper sweet things and just let go
Anohni – KARMA (2017)
In his painting, drawing, photography and sculpture, Abel Techer embodies gender performativity, as theorized by Judith Butler in Gender Trouble (1990). In 2015, he produced a new self-portrait. It is an untitled work in which the artist represents himself bare-chested, from a slightly . view. Staring directly at us, he pulls at and plumps up his breast. Hanging on the wall above and behind him are two woollen pompoms, the signs of a fragile masculinity. In the bottom left-hand corner of the composition, a pair of scissors, evoking snipping, castration, transition. We are offered several possible narratives, in which we are free to project ourselves. This work, presented at the Maëlle Galerie, is a plastic and political encounter with Abel Techer.
Five years have passed since. While Abel Techer continues an experimentation framed by questions of self-representation, auto-fiction and gender performativity, his recent works attest to a radicalization of his position concerning the refusal of a suffocating binarism. To determining and reassuring norms, Abel Techer prefers turmoil and a plurality of alternatives. Head shaved, the artist turns his body into an object, a plastic mannequin that he dresses, undresses, accessorizes and makes-up, over and over. The body is hairless, ageless, and uncontextualized. It is a body freed of a toxic identity to which we are all are meant to conform: assigned male or female from cradle to grave. It is a body staged in the depths of fantasies or phantasmagoria, the site of which is childhood. Soft toys, knickknacks, motifs and pastel colours point us to this territory in a permanent state of flux. A time of transition, of transformation, in which bodies are not yet completely normalized. A time of play, fears, dreams and becomings.
Abel Techer speaks of incomplete bodies: «The body, like representation, is in construction, or deconstruction. It’s a transitory state, a shifting platform.» The choice of an academic treatment stems from a desire for a place in a history of art until now written and constituted by the advocates of patriarchy. The classicism of the paintings and drawings is a plastic and political statement. Through it, and through a highly subversive gentleness, Abel Techer introduces insolence, joy, vulnerability, irony and impropriety. In so doing, he, in intaglio, signifies the exclusion of bodies deliberately side-lined by an overly authoritarian and malevolent history of art. In the wake of his elders, the artist is committed to an art conceived outside the norms and traditions. An absolutely queer art.