Matter and Form, Self-evidence and Surprise: On Jean-Luc Moulène's Objects, 2019

    In this unique essay, first delivered as a lecture during a panel discussion with the artist and philosopher Reza Negarestani, Badiou identifies and “dialecticizes” five Moulène objects with five conceptual formations from the history of Western philosophy. Aristotle’s complex of matter and form is called to mind to describe the inner logic of a routed, hard foam sculpture. A bronze statue with holes next activates Plato’s notion of participation of the concrete world in the “injured Idea of the Beautiful.” A small metallic and incomplete “angel,” further, engages Leibniz’s affirmation that “everything that exists is composed of an infinity of things.” Badiou’s musings then bring him to Victor Hugo while considering a broken and repaired plastic chair. A terrible Hand made of concrete, that seems to have “burst out of the earth,” cannot help but manifest something akin to the Freudian unconscious. Finally, a large-scale “red and blue monster” awakens in the philosopher the rudimentary mechanisms of the Cartesian cogito, the famous “I think, therefore I am,” with stunning inversions and variations.


    By Alain Badiou, Sequence Press, 2019