Bâton Fleurdelisé

2013

The spatial intervention Bâton Fleurdelisé navigates on the idea of creating space where a viewer is put in the position of shared responsibility for maintaining the created balance. 

I divided the space into two parts. The central part of the work exists as a combination of three materials: potassium nitrate, coal and sulphur. I sieved the unmixed powders evenly and directly onto the floor, creating a field of 3 radiant colours. The thin line of yellow sulphur sets a border that should not be crossed either by viewers or performers. A potential danger can be caused by mixing the materials which would create 221kg of gunpowder. In the remaining part of the space, I put the desk, the chair and the ashtray.

Periodically, around every 3 minutes, a soldier enters the space and lights up a cigarette and inhales the smoke. Finally, he leaves the cigarette in the ashtray then vacates the space. The next soldier repeats the action with a new cigarette or picks up the smouldering cigarette left behind. A burning cigarette is a potential source of the explosion.

The viewers witness a dialogue between a soldier inhaling the cigarette and the space of the room, perfectly covered with the raw materials of gunpowder. By creating a high-risk situation, I test our discipline and I highlight the fragility and transience of our world.

The title of this work refers to Napolean Bonaparte’s quote that 'every French soldier carries a marshal’s baton in his knapsack.' The Bâton Fleurdelisé.