Thursday, July 15, 1993

by Professor Douglas McKee

Born in New York City to modernist, utilitarian, dissatisfied French parentage, Batente was shunted around between boarding schools in the Genève-Lausanne area until the age of fifteen. It was within the resonant wooden halls of these cloistered, repressive institutions that he first developed his hatred of heirarchy and his corresponding affinity for obsolete forms of expression, forms whose possibilities were ultimately as useful as poetics.

When his parents died, he returned to New York City. He was still young; less than a photographer but more than a mere steamer-trunk-full of aesthetic European. As a reproduction of a reproduction of the cosmopolitan, he was easily negative: blurred, inverted and unique, like cast reflectors, or wrapped summer.

In New York he was the studio; the camera was his likeness; the world around him became portraits of an object interrupted. Aroused from the torpor of puberty by issues of abstraction and method and provocative technology, he began to use black and white values based on words, abstract inspirational words which were thinly-veiled stories of his energies. He also experimented with asemic essays and the use of intensified expressive manufacturing.

After relocating to a larger and more bucolic studio complex in Brooklyn, he became almost exclusively concerned with assumptions of construction, transformation and larger layout: presence written by anagram; poetic and medical idealism; expressive intimacy; these were the Ham & Eggs of his lengthy American Breakfast. During this period photography for him became ever more insistently a minimum of procedures. Creative thought replaced the permanent object. Process was as a metaphorical sum, a subjective statement about transformation in culture.

Thus diffused, Time becomes precisely an invisible statement, part of Process’s lengthy lecture to Fact. With the collusion of such corrosive collaborators as Thomas Alva Edison, Henry Ford, Laszlo Moholy-Nagy and Josephine Baker, Queceux developed a hideous* series of sound & light pieces with futuristic surfaces. Pieces like the mysterious puzzle in a kiss manipulated the duration of perversity while simultaneously masquerading as the assonance jargon of a critical community theory.

In other words the artistic process itself became the omniscient anti-narrator of its own anti-textual disjuncture. In Queceux’s subsequent breakthrough and reformulation of “Decorative Expressionism,” the illustrated becomes significant, the social active and the cultural enthusiastic. Queceux’s sense of humor speaks, as it were, for itself.

Rather less is known of Queceux’s contemporaneous private life, but it seems to have been, for him, relatively disembodied and satisfying. But peace was not to be his consistent lot. Upon hearing graphic reports of the Battle of the Somme, he enlisted in the Air Corps. After many months of ideal flying he joined the battles high above Alsace-Lorraine. By this time the war had developed a naïve hallucinatory quality and the days dived into weeks, glided into months.

His dramatic sexual needs increased logarithmically during and after America’s war in Europe. Indoctrinated into ritual forms of discourse, he was for a brief time Michel Foucault’s lover. Bresson made a somewhat more lasting impression in his bed. Queceux’s long relationship with Virginia Woolf was both subtly absurd and unremittingly overwhelming. Shrouds of these caresses imprinted Queceux’s body, encapsulating the real within the installation of perspective, as if his past sexual performances were superimposed upon a bifurcated negative. This blurred negativity reminded him of wrapped summers along the Hudson, and, in full nostalgic retreat, he moved once again from France to New York, where he soon set about diligently producing the body of work upon which his reputation will be forever based.

The subsequent “marriage” to Arthur Godfrey and its painful dénouement are well-known, as are the details of his third relocation to France, where he now maintains a small house and studio near the Clos du Lilas and exists solely on erotic commentary and trace material intention. The work on view in this, his first U.S. exhibition in over sixty years, is based on potentially inert parameters accidentally over-stepped during experimental phases of smaller projects.

*in the Lovecraftian sense.