Ritual d'été/Summer Ritual
Every year for 6 years, during August, I carried out a series of ritualistic actions that confront the human position to live daily life as a tourist. There is an auto-biographical base that retraces my feelings of being perpetually caught between two identities and generally the complications of having emigrated from the UK. These actions are often aware of the specific geographies of my environment.
The first three actions were specific to the South of France.
The actions have included, the demand for lost sunglasses in bars and restaurants in the south of the country with the use of phrase book french . Getting lost under the scorching heat and make engravings of the landscape on pairs of sunglasses. A hunt to get photos of the British flag worn as an accessory. A song about
soils in different countries. And ofcourse, tanning tattoos of French words made in Whitley Bay for ArtHouses 2018.
Summer Ritual #1
South of France
The first Rituel d’été
( extract from my synthesis about sabotage entitled LEAM pg. 12)
Sunglasses - The idea came about because I was discovering many towns in the south of France during the summer months, I had no money and I had just sat on a pair of sunglasses that I had left lazily on a car seat, the worst thing was that someone had lent them to me. In this moment of mini-crisis, I searched every corner of my brain until I came up with a plan. The first time I executed this plan was in Avignon, walking through the crowds of the theatre festival. I found the courage to walk into a bar and, with weak French and a look of fear, I told them that I had lost my sunglasses. Miraculously, they pulled out a pair of fake Raybans. The same day, I managed to get two more and started to develop my spiel. 1I developed the role I would let LEAM take over in his character. The deception of waiters / waitresses / barmaids / receptionists in pubs, restaurants and hotels soon became a special talent of LEAM and myself. It was powers of negotiation that were used to make them believe us.
I would often bite my nails when they pulled out a pair of dust-covered glasses or a pair of women’s , I just had to keep a straight face. I started to say that they were my pair of friends. On other occasions, I really took the bull by the horns and asked them for the biggest victory I could have imagined, sometimes they saw through what cost me a few pairs of 2sunglasses.
It was obvious that Liam would not be able to lie to the bar and restaurant staff, he would be too overwhelmed with guilt and hesitant in a situation where moral codes are contradictory. I was unknown to these people, I found it easy to decry them because they were the actors and judges of success. But success is not just a pair of sunglasses, success can also be achieved by a failed attempt. For example, on the Marseilles waterfront, in the heat of August, during the midday service, I stood infront of the only fan in order to attract the attention of the waiters; finally, the smell of my factor 50 sun cream reached the nose of a seasoned professional. He called my bluff and told me that he would have remembered my face if he had seen it before! I felt his anger,he was like a character from the original “French Connection”. It was nice to see his nostrils open like that.
2 The CIA Freedom Fighters Handbook is full of techniques on how to use idleness and procrastination as well as household objects as weapons of sabotage in causing civil unrest.
3 Lost property boxes are like travel trophies dedicated to idleness and misadventures. Walter Benjamin Arcades Projects, historise and memories coded in ‘useless’ things that are obscured by the monolithic history of capitalist ‘progress’.
Copyrights Liam Witter 2021 All rights reserved