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 21st, 2021. Below are a couple of obituaries, and a short unpublished poem Nancy wrote in 2015.

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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

I gave a paper on my collaborations with Jean-Luc at ENS Paris in 2023 and in December 2022  wrote an article, Les Amours Partagée, on my work with Jean-Luc Nancy, published in Que Parle Journal (Duke University Press).

I produced three films, unpublished texts and a photo-work with Jean-Luc Nancy.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.

Currently, I am working on a legacy project (film & text publication) involving Jean-Luc’s archive and materials (2024).

‘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