That particular night in November, two or three years before the evening when I thought I heard laughter behind me, I was returning to the Left Bank and my home by way of the Pont Royal. It was an hour past midnight, a fine rain was falling, a drizzle rather, that scattered the few people on the streets. I had just left a mistress, who was surely already asleep. I was enjoying that walk, a little numbed, my body calmed and irrigated by a flow of blood gentle as the falling rain. On the bridge I passed behind a figure leaning over the railing and seeming to stare at the river.
On closer view, I made out a slim young woman dressed in black. The back of her neck, cool and damp between her dark hair and coat collar, stirred me. But I went on after a moment’s hesitation. At the end of the bridge I followed the guys toward Saint-Michel, where I lived. I had already gone some fifty yards when I heard the sound—which, despite the distance, seemed dreadfully loud in the midnight silence—of a body striking the water. I stopped short, but without turning around. Almost at once I heard a cry, repeated several times, which was going downstream; then it suddenly ceased.
The silence that followed, as the night suddenly stood still, seemed interminable. I wanted to run and yet didn’t stir. I was trembling, I believe from cold and shock. I told myself that I had to be quick and I felt an irresistible weakness steal over me. I have forgotten what I thought then. “Too late, too far …” or something of the sort. I was still listening as I stood motionless. Then, slowly under the rain, I went away. I informed no one.
Albert Camus, The Fall, extract, pp73-75
During an exhibition which took place in the public space, we used a known bridge to be one of the famous localities of the city. So we took this bridge as a paradigm of the passage, the traverse. The bridge is a symbol, it embodies a fundamental perception to life and death. In Camus text: “The Fall”, the main character witnesses a suicide a young woman attempts – could he do anything? – and finally let the girl commit suicide and remains anonymous. The bridge is only a place crossed by anyone but at the same time, it is a paradigm of what we do represent as individuals to the others people. All of us remains, against all odds, anonymous.
The text, in this installation, is encrypted in Braille. This code, usually used for blind people, characterizes the disparity between the visual and the signifier. Walking on a significant without being able to understand its substance, it concerns all of us. This installation should almost be perceived as a memorial to anonymous, fully integrated into the urban environment.
Note that this installation has been designed in two hours, at night, using a stencil of 5 meters and acrylic paint applied to the roller. For two years, it is still visible. Hardly affected by the passing of cars or sweepers, the code remains. Apparently nobody decided to clear it… Since then, a new version has been produced in Montreal. See below.