The Invention of the World

Die Erfindung der Welt

L’invention du monde

CR 306. Year 1985

Wv 306 La Invention Du Monde 001

"The Invention of the world" is the story of a man no one knows. The only reason the location of the story is not doubtful is because the subject is the world and its invention. No doubt the world is the name of a place (but we do want to get by without many names in our story). After all, memory is a popular form of error.

These fables which I shall call mythical - for they adopt the language of myth and tell of legendary events, even if fictional and entirely invented by the artist - help Jochen Gerz to surmount a major difficulty: to express our wayward culture with the very words that made this waywardness possible. “… his mechanical interest in language at the very time of writing had come in between like a memory or a dam: as if everything that went beyond this interest, all relations with a “history”, however brief, were like a lack of attention…” Gerz says in Agnes ou le Temps français, a work parallel to the mythical accounts. These works, as poetry, provide him with a liberty of expression that frees him from preoccupation with rational linguistic meaning and enable him to stay the closest possible to this “espace du vécu” he has always sought.

Anne Dagbert 1986

...Jochen Gerz’ verbal images often work with time-related metaphors of contemporary astrophysics for example. They like to use paradox. The melancholic undertone of the overall context arises out of the realisation of some kind of futility of determining the things around us, as well as the exact opposite: the impossibility of not wanting to do so.

Lucie Schauer 1985. Translated by e_CR editors.

…Es geht um Kunstwerk und Urheber, sowie um die Erkenntnisfähigkeit von beidem, zweitens um die Rivalität von Zeit und Zeitlosigkeit und schließlich um die Möglichkeit von Bild und Sprache selbst. … Die sprachlichen Bilder von Jochen Gerz arbeiten häufig mit zeitbezogenen Metaphern, zum Beispiel aus der Astrophysik der Gegenwart, sie bedienen sich gern der Paradoxie. Der melancholische Unterton des Gesamtkontexts rührt sowohl aus der Einsicht einer Art von Vergeblichkeit, die Dinge um uns herum dingfest machen zu können, wie dem genauen Gegenteil: der Unmöglichkeit, dies nicht zu wollen.

Lucie Schauer 1985

Mixed Media Photograph

4 framed b+w photographs, each 40,5 x 50,5 cm, 1 framed text (relief print), 13 x 18 cm, 1 framed text (typed on paper), 18 x 24 cm, total 165 x 166 cm

The texts are typed in German, English and French.

Musée d'Art Moderne de Saint-Étienne.
Collection Robelin, Paris.


Ravenna 1985. Rennes 1985. Saarbrücken 1985. Frankfurt 1986. (Rennes 1987. Berlin 1987). Hamburg 1989. Saint-Étienne 1995. Clermont-Ferrand 2019. Lyon 2022


I: Ravenna 1985, pp. 60-61. Saarbrücken 1985, pp. 5-8, 11-17. Calais 1986, p. 43. Berlin 1987, p. 308. Essen 1991, p. 17. Paris 1994a, p. 46. Saint-Étienne 1995, p. 182. Clermont-Ferrand 2019, Lyon/Paris 2022, pp. 126-127

II: Giessler 1985, p. 6. Sorg 1989, p. 36

V: Wolf 1992, pp. 39-40

VI: Düsseldorf 1997, p. 124

Access to general bibliography

My name is Jochen Gerz