“‘And the fact is,’ continued Des Esseintes, following this line of argument, “the fact is that since suffering is a consequence of education, and spreads and intensifies in proportion to the number of ideas that are generated, the more we endeavor to polish the intelligence and refine the nervous system of the poor and unfortunate, the more we shall be developing the germs, always so fiercely ready to sprout, of moral suffering and social hatred.”
Joris Karl Huysmans-À Rebours,1884
Against the Grain is a novel by Joris-Karl Huysmans published in 1884. The distinctive feature of the novel is that almost nothing actually happens: the narrative focuses principally on the main character, Des Esseintes, an esthete and eccentric anti-hero, and his catalog of tastes and distastes.
Expanding on the neurotic and manic nature of Des Esseintes, the curators elect to illustrate both the agony and capriciousness often seen in those who are zealously inquisitive. The juxtaposition of unconventional art forms is in itself a performance on the unraveling of the subconscious when in a state of limbo.
Furthermore, Nayssan and Maggiar have chosen to illustrate their own deep contemplations by creating an immersive experience in which observers will be carried up a freight elevator over four floors. One performance or installation will unfold on each floor, lasting only momentarily like moving tableaux, only to vanish as the elevator ascends and descends.