CORNETTE (UNTITLED I—XII) Chromogenic prints
65 x 48,5 cm
What to wear,
what not to wear. Right now, I want to be wearing a cornette. That is a kind of
folding headgear. More specifically I want to be in its folded form. It is a
form that allows something to be revealed and concealed at the same time. I
believe this is possible without losing control. In fact, it is all about
control. If control is a variable that regulates the flow of visibility, we operate
with multiple controls. The behaviour of those controls also includes their own
visibility. The behaviours of controls sharing a form often correlate: some
controls are always hidden while other controls are visible; some controls are
repositioned while other controls are shown; some controls are both shown and
hidden at the same time.
Wimples. They all look alike on white walls. But not all
walls are the same. The wimples are the walls and change with them. They
are their own changeable walls.
Seam. Or what is in the seam. Fold it with your eyes closed, stitch a seam
along each fold, like the inside of someone’s thoughts. Must you know the
answer to everything?
Fold. Nothing but cloth, folded in layers. The significance of the fold.
That which is folded in and that which unfolds. That which is revealed and that
which stays concealed. Now we see everything at the same time. Now we see
Sign. Extrapolate that the sign reveals/conceals itself in a form that is oracular rather than ocular. Heraclitus
says: “The lord whose oracle is in Delphi neither indicates clearly nor
conceals but gives a sign.”
 The historical
interweaving of the cornette with white walls is traced out in Elizabeth Kuhn’sThe Habit: A History of the Clothing of Catholic Nuns (New York: Image,
 One of the meanings of the veil is encapsulated in a formulation by Paul
Celan: “Half image, half veil.” This enigmatic phrase bordering on the
elliptical comes from one of the poet’s few prose pieces, Conversations in the Mountains. What is fascinating about the work
is not least the story of its origin. It was written in August 1959, shortly
after a missed meeting with a nameless person on a mountain road. (Cf. James K.
Lyon, Paul Celan and Martin Heidegger: an unresolved conversation, 1951-1970(Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2006), 163.) The meeting that
did not take place is significant. Life is filled with missed or impossible
meetings. You only have to take the subway to witness some of them. The meeting
that does not take place triggers a chain of possible outcomes of that meeting,
which in turn gives rise to intensities such as longing, imagination and
wonderment. Missing someone you have never even met. There are, however,
different ways of not meeting, which the pandemic situation has inventively
demonstrated. (Someone aptly described Zoom meetings as a contemporary form of
séance. Someone is trying to make contact. Are you there? We cannot hear you.
Do you hear us?) If we return to Celan’s work we get into a conversation
between two cousins who: "have no eyes, alas. Or more exactly: they have,
even they have eyes, but with a veil hanging in front of them, no, not in
front, behind them, a moveable veil." (here and in what follows: Paul
Celan, "Conversations in the Mountain”, in Collected Prose (Manchester: Carcanet, 2003), 22—23.) Everything they see is mediated by the
veil, it winds "itself around the image and begets a child, half image,
half veil." Neither words nor pictures suffice for the absolute alienation
that is the world. In other words, the veil is a trope for nothing less than