Jean-Luc Nancy and Phillip Warnell on set for Outlandish, Strasbourg 2009.

My dear friend and long term collaborator Jean-Luc Nancy died on August 23rd, 2021. Below are a couple of obituaries, and a short unpublished poem Nancy wrote in 2015.

Art Forum
Art Review

Oh, the animals
never will it be said too much...oh!
They are so close, so far so mobile, so immobile
they are so speaky silent, oh!
more so, they are so cinematic
or cinegatoriffic
claws in the camera obscura
eyes aglow in darkness
Oh, what cinemality!

Oh les animaux,
jamais on ne le dira trop : oh!
ils sont si proches si lointains,
ils sont si mobiles si immobiles
ils sont si prolixes silencieux, oh!
ils sont surtout si cinéma
oui tellement cinématographiques
même cinématogriffiques
voire cinégatorgriffiques
ils entrent dans la caméra oscura
leurs yeux brillent dans l'obscurité

Oh les animaux!

Jean Luc Nancy

(translation © Phillip Warnell, 2016)
Please also see the full text for ‘Strange Foreign Bodies’ via the link in the menu

Outlandish is screening at a FID Marseille hommage to Jean-Luc Nancy in October 2021
Outlandish will also screen at a colloquium in memory of Nancy at the Pompidou Centre/L’ENS, Paris on 22/23 Jan, 2022

Jean-Luc Nancy : Anastasis de la pensée

... not touching this body, to touch on its eternity - Jean-Luc Nancy (Noli me tangere)

The philosophical corpus of Jean-Luc Nancy is now the contact between us and him. Nancy has given us a singular-plural of body of works in the history of philosophy. Nancy was never distant from the central concerns of philosophy—time, being, spanne, the negative, form, categories—and from philosophy itself even when it was in fashion to be non-philosophers. While being at a remove from the centre of the inventive era of philosophy in Paris by withdrawing into the distant of Strasbourg, Nancy was revealed to be the very heart of that era. He drew out the sense of the philosophical corpus of Descartes, Kant, the German Romantics, Hegel, Husserl, and Heidegger, and also that of his contemporaries — Derrida, Lyotard, Lacan, Deleuze. His thought explored and released the spores of other beginnings which were metaphysical, political, literary, and aesthetic. He nurtured friendships and created events which kept open the possibility of the arrival of the other in the philosophical tradition for a chance of anastasis.

Nancy’s corpus opens on to another beginning of philosophy through the examination of the constructions of its identity and history, towards the revealing of the sense of the “end” of a particular history of philosophy. Nancy shows philosophy to be that which exists necessarily through its conductance of eternity. To remember him is to begin with him again, so that he may arise in the future of thinking, so that we may think together towards the anastasis of philosophy — “Anastasis comes to the self from the other or arises from the other within the self” (Noli me tangere, 19). To begin this task we will hold three days of celebration of Jean-Luc Nancy with the reading of texts by his friends, films about him, musical performances, and discussions exploring the themes which concerned Nancy throughout his life —body, touch, world, sense, community, democracy, value, poetry, cinema, the arts, religion, technology, death, time.

Link to programme

I produced three films, unpublished texts and a photo-work with Jean-Luc Nancy. Our collaborations commenced in 2007 with the production of a group portrait (which didn't quite take place) around the sole surviving example of Franz Mesmer's uncanny 'baquet', housed in Lyon. Strapped to the device, a kind of parlour room prompted, uncanny self-diagnosis would take place, each participant holding a skeletal, metal arm protruding from the vat, containing magnetised water. Ultimately, the baquet supposedly caused bodily transparency, and with it promoted an ability towards group therapeutic aims.

In 2009 we made Outlandish: Strange Foreign Bodies which featured a text specially written for the film by Nancy of the same name. Nancy himself is an onscreen presence in the film, reading the text in a series of episodic passages. The project also featured a co-authored artists’ book, ‘Outlandish’, with texts by Nancy, Warnell and contemporary art curator Andrea Lissoni (Haus der Kunst, Munich).

In 2014 we made Ming of Harlem: twenty one storeys in the air, to which Nancy contributed a 101 line poem, 'Oh, the language animals'. The poem works as an insert in the film, voiced by composer Hildur Gudnadottir. The poem has been reproduced in numerous books/publications, including ‘Animals’ (MIT/Whitechapel contemporary art docs, editor Filipa Ramos).

Outlandish (artists’ book) Phillip Warnell & Jean-Luc Nancy, 2010. Published by Wellcome Collection. 

In 2017 a third film was released, The Flying Proletarian, in which Nancy also contributed an original text, ‘The Canton’. It features a voice-over/character, delivering the text intermittently during the film.

I have written a number of book chapters and texts on their collaborations and film works, including a recently submitted PhD  completed in 2020, titled
'Anatomy of the Incorporeal'.

‘Placebo’ (with Mesmer's baquet), photographic slide projection and light box, 2007
Photographic slide projection and lightbox guide (see Installations)
Exhibited at Leamington Spa Museum & Art Gallery, 300m3 gallery Gothenburg