‘grasping’ the underlying

Traces. Ink on medium-grain moyen A4 130gsm pape.

‘To grasp the underlying’. Video. 00:33min.
‘To grasp while abstracting yourself ever more, to grasp the tendency, the accent, the pace, the space. To grasp the underlying.’1
Henri Michaux

Michaux (a poet, writer and a paiter) felt the limitation of the governing convention in words, and he decided to explore what happens if you push beyond these boundaries. The most fascinating thing about Henry Michaux’s asemic practice was his methodology of observing and processing elements. For example, he observed animals, mainly insects. During this process, he refused to resemble the image of those animals. This tense of resistance became the main subject of his practice, which he called ‘grasp’. For Henri Michaux, the most important thing was not the outcome, but the process of making these signs.

In April 2020 being confined in my house due to the Covid-19 situation, my garden became my playground. Observing my surroundings, gave importance to the smallest things that were happening around me. Like these ants in my yard, we were sharing our everyday routine. Going back and forth on the same pathway, filling in our everyday needs.

I was inspired by Henry Michaux’s practice and I tried to “grasp” those ants’ movement. Their shadow guided me to explore their flow. Together we explored the paper’s territory. We (me and the ants) created an asemic dialogue, by just feeling the presence of the other. The process of making these signs allowed me to re-approach the part inside me that wants to learn more and reconnect with nature.


1Henri Michaux and others, ‘THREE ASEMIC ANCESTORS’, in Asemic, The Art of Writing (University of Minnesota Press, 2019), pp. 19–60 <https://doi.org/10.5749/j.ctvthhd18.4>.p.21.