Jan Fabre - Sanguis / Mantis

Sanguis / Mantis, 2001

Author: Jan Fabre

Blood on paper. 8 drawings.

Each 32 x 24 cm.

DVD documental in black and white of the performance.

Drawing 1: There is no getting used to art.

Drawing 2: Saint John the Baptist’s head. Cruel show.

Drawing 3: Cruel show.

Drawing 4: Every Artist/animal for Himself, like shipwrecked sailors.

Drawing 5: One does not get used to art:
The world is despairing, for the world cannot be changed
In the world we are subject to chance, the artist relies only on one fate, on conquering that fate
Each Artist/animal, by Himself alone like a shipwrecked sailor.

Drawing 6: There is no getting used to art

Drawing 7: The man healed by the miracle is in ecstasy.

Drawing 8: Each Artist/animal, by Himself alone like a shipwrecked sailor.

The performance that led to the sculpture and series of drawings titled Sanguis / Mantis was performed by Jan Fabre in Lyon just before the debut of his show, Je suis sang, which opened the Avignon Festival in 2011.

History has always repudiated blood as an essential element in the composition of works of art. Therefore, when Jan Fabre is preparing Je suis sang (Conte de fées médiéval), an epic poem dedicated to universal blood, he is inviting the spectator to experience something new which may cause rejection or incomprehension, but never indifference. Fabre gets into a polished-steel suit of armour which resembles the head of an insect. It is a hermetically sealed space that prevents him from perceiving anything on the outside. Hearing is the only sense that allows him to move. A nurse then extracts blood from the artist, filling twelve test tubes which Fabre will use to do his work, in a cathartic process of purification and regeneration of his own blood.

In Sanguis/Mantis, Fabre is converted into a knight, an insect, an animal, but he also embodies the artist who coexists with the art merchants who, like leeches, help him and suck his blood at the same time.

The Sanguis/Mantis (2001) series and the Je suis sang (2002) represent a visionary reflection on “the liquid body”, works of art created with the artist’s blood.

In his own words:” I like to celebrate the body and its secretions, whose meaning surpasses that of words”. These two series are completed with the Sanguis/Mantis sculpture which Fabre used for the performance of the same name at the Polysonneries Festival in Lyon in 2001, and a DVD documentary on the performance with a montage created especially for this exhibition.

Dominique Frétard describes the staging of Sanguis/Mantis like this, “twelve tables arranged like a labyrinth. On each one, pencils and brushes of different sizes and neatly arranged sheets of paper. The artist sits on a stool across from the nurse. First blood draw. First red-stained bandage. First sample tube. First drops of blood smashed against the paper, spread into indecipherable drawings. First text written in capital letters: “One never gets used to art” signed by Jan Emiel Constant Fabre. A drawing, like an SOS, that pertains as much to an old manuscript as to a bottle thrown into the sea. Writing, drawing with his blood. Really. To share the difficulty of being an artist. Always depending on yourself. Being alone. Well-known or unknown artist: same pain. We get carried away by the intensity with which Jan Fabre, from his first steps, gives in to his destiny. The sweat seeps out of his armour, which at once protects and bothers him.”