Nihilistic smoke

Julia Katharina Thiemann

"We found the meaning and for this reason the sense of everything. All kinds of experts declared how brilliant the hill of meaning was. An American museum wanted to pay many milions dollar for it." (Janne Teller: Nothing.) Baptiste Debombourg's work "NOTHING" (2013) from the series "social philosophy" consist of cigarette butts, which form the word "Nothing". Compound by utilized, useless and normally as waste declared finds Baptiste Debombourg evolves something new from the discarded, namely – nothing.

The noun phrase "The Nothing" names the opposite of being, thus the inexistence, and therefore is an abstract concept as the human perception tends to notice the existing. The absent can be imagined, but normally we don't have a conception of the negation of being. At the same time "nothing" names in common speech something futile, something without inner sense or content which just is exterior shine.

So Baptiste Debombourg turns one's attention to leavings of our everday consumption often careless thrown down, which could depict a message on the ground by chance. Systems of valence and rules of our everyday acting as well as of the art are undermined on different layers, of materiality, working process and mode of presentation as well as of the content. Refering to nihilism transfers Baptiste Debombourg the nagation as condition of being and approach to the world, a negation of any awareness and social order, into an artistic gesture, which reflects itself. Thereby the remained products for one-time usage – the filter of the addictive consumer good cigarette – are like repositories of life, of desires, dreams, lifestyle or nervousnesses. By confronting such dreams of consumers with the Nothing Baptiste Debombourg combines not only abstract philosophical concepts with everyday life, but provoces at the same time in a playful manner a critical reflection of the beholder.

In Jean-Paul Sartre's argumentation of the ontological motivation of freedom on the basis of everyday phenomena in which the human is constituted in and by his existence which holds a moment of freedom, Baptiste Debombourg's work as well can't be Nothing, given that it is constituted by it's existence and has a moment of a liberal gesture in it, which tries to free from the rules of the artworld. With his work Baptiste Debombourg forces a new view of our world, the space that surrounds us and of objects careless thrown away, which engrave our everyday life.
Text written in the frame of contextual installation in Julia Katharina Thiemann's cabinet in Hannover
Julia Katharina Thiemann is is an independent art historian, art critic and curator, she worked as curator in Modern art Museum of Weseburg in 2015, in the Kunstverein Wilhelmshöhe Ettlingen in 2017, She is actually the chief operating of the Rudolf Scharpf Gallery in the Wilhelm Hack Museum in Germany.