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Ou la mort

2014

In 'Ou la mort' ('Or death'), a modified French typewriter from the late 1960s is transformed from an object of everyday use into a symbolic gesture that appears to question the universality of Enlightenment's principles, and their continuity to the present day. The work takes its title from the second, less widely known part of the French Revolution's motto "Liberté, Égalité, Fraternité". However, the motto is impossible to be written anymore with the typewriter, as all the keys required to type it have been removed. At a historical conjuncture in which extreme-right parties and policies re-emerge emphatically across Europe and around the world, the work highlights not only the undermining of democracy, but also the dangers posed by the underminers' methods. As suggested by the modifications made to the typewriter, those methods involve the systematic concealment of the very existence and relevance of values such as freedom, equality, and togetherness. 'Ou la mort' invites the audience to rediscover those ideals by drawing connections between today's socio-political context and historical precedence – notably, the political movements of the late 1960s, including May 1968 in France.

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