Romain Noël, Pop Love Apocalypse, Klima, no. 2 (2019)


The first time that I discovered the work of Mimosa Echard was at an exhibition entitled Friends. Visiting this exhibition was not like an everyday experience, but rather like entering a friend-body, the meat of a friend-body, and all which that implies in its cruelty and tenderness. Walking into the bloody interior of this body, I literally fell into friendship. A few months later, laying on a cloud of grass, I realized that it would be a shame, if not theoretically inacceptable, to consider the work of Mimosa Echard through a prism other than that of friendship. It was summer, the sun was shining, the smell of burning grass formed the word “happiness” inside of my nose, the wind made the leaves of trees look like clouds of hummingbirds, and I understood, or believed to understand (that this understanding is a belief is of little importance to me) that this category of friendship is not unworthy of entering the history of art, far from it. To honor this unjustly underestimated category, I decided to tell various stories, more or less legendary, in which my relationship to the work of Mimosa Echard unfolds.

I remember, for example, being struck by the pertinence of onomatology – or the study of proper names. That it was there under the impersonality of a surname, or a splinter (écharde in French, evoked by the surname of the artist, Echard), was enough to please me. I immediately understood while exploring Friends for the first time, almost accidentally, that the world of Mimosa is a wounded world (like the lacerated torso of Bruce Lee lurking under the material in one of the works on display), and that this wounded world was a world both desiring and desirable – the world of desire itself which lacks everything, always replaying its wild liturgy. Behind this name’s thorn appears the arrow of love, whose Orphic cults have made the key to their initiation. I thought back to a scene in the Golden Legend in which a lion terrorizes a city. Saint Jerome, having left the solitude of the desert, approaches the lion and gently removes the pain causing thorn from his paw, making a lifelong friend. I realized that Mimosa must have experienced this thorn, the kind that puts us besides ourselves as if taken by passion, slipping under her own skin more than once. I also thought that she must personally know many lions like this. Many objects, shadows, bacteria, and flowers too. In other words, many friends, both visible and invisible. In my mind, the name Mimosa Echard transforms into Wounded Flower (Fleur Blessée), Thorn Bush (Buisson d’Épines), Deep Wound (Plaie Profonde), or even Bloody Bloom. These names are not ridiculous for those who have known, if only for a moment, the anonymous passion of the tumultuous matter.

During our last exchange, Mimosa Echard exposed a kind of theory of pop to me, which allowed me to understand not only her appeal for certain motifs, but also the gestures at work in her visual practice. Yet, Mimosa never stands in the place of positive knowledge. She does not separate her visual work and theoretical thought, allowing them to meet through discourse. No, Mimosa’s thought is a radically aesthetic one, in the etymological sense of the term: a sensitive, sensual knowledge where ideas seem to come from an uncertain area of the unknown. This is why the term “exposition”, as I said Mimosa “exposed a theory” to me, must be understood in its first sense, as it appears in the expression “exposure to sunlight” or in the biblical phrase “Moses exposed on the Nile” (literally, placed outside, offered to the river’s sting, endangered[1]). In thinking, Mimosa navigates a tumultuous river that she voluntarily exposes herself to. Sharing her fundamental intuition about pop with me, Mimosa only replayed live the gesture of self-exposure before my eyes, as if nothing had happened.

Pop, she said, is in essence like a tackling: it catches things and slams them on a ground, just as a wrestler does to their opponent, or lover. Pop, as Mimosa Echard practices and thinks it, consists in putting things down, making them lower, at the hand of creatures that, like her, tread the uneven grounds of planet Earth. In that respect, pop regains its original meaning – popularity. By practicing the tackling of pop, by putting down forms and destroying references, Mimosa appropriates alienation itself. She uses these foreign bodies that shape our existence at the global scale. In this way, she invents a space where things both animate and inanimate, living and non-living, can meet, forming the people of the Earth.

Since Adorno and Hokheimer’s reflections on cultural industry, social critics have repeated that mass culture (and popular culture) exercise a detrimental and alienating power over individuals. I do not know if Mimosa Echard’s theory contradicts this hypothesis, but it surely surpasses this. Mimosa is not fearful of aliens, quite the contrary. Her use of pop may even tend towards a kind of Alien International, or to pop people who are masters of the art of forming new relationships and transforming alienation into adaptation. By working material, Mimosa tackles everything to the ground so that it all can meet, and that through these encounters, dark spirals of desire can secretly arise. This is why, as suggested early, the people at play in this strange theory of pop are a populace of lovers, friends, a people that have no other laws than the desires that circulate them, like fluid between bodies. What is shocking in this theory is the fact that it is not at all about using pop to create an ironic distance from or critique of things, but rather about abolishing all distances to let things mix together, like in a cauldron brewing a potion – which would be of course a love potion – or a relational mixture, like the pastes, waxes, resins and glues that play the role of paint and compose the worlds present in Mimosa’s work. Revolt has donned the tight pink costume and falsely naïve look of a pop star in Mimosa’s practice. Indeed, a unique violence unfolds behind the light sails, rose tints and silky textures. The theory of pop previously exposed explained this ambivalence: it is not about referencing pop but rather to proceed through a tackling, crushing and destruction of the reference. I suppose that behind these tender and joyous motifs employed by Mimosa Echard hides some kind of cruelty. Behind desire, the black hole of longing. Behind pleasure, the possibility of burning. Behind passion, the spectrum of suffering and wild breath of impulse. Behind the fairy, a witch swimming in the devil’s bath. Behind the drums of Orgonon, ox blood1. As if the work of Mimosa needed to find its balance between tenderness and cruelty, love and violence, eros and Thanatos, and so on, where pink turns to black and black to pink, and where the world, I believe, spells its truth.


The 25th of April 1982, eleven years and ten days before I was born, the magazine Gai Pied published an interview with Michel Foucault entitled “Friendship as a way of life2.” In it, Foucault confirmed that the problem was not to “discover in oneself the truth of sex but rather to use sexuality henceforth to arrive at a multiplicity of relationships.” Continuing that, “the development towards which the problem of homosexuality tens is the one of friendship.” He presented this as “a relationship that is still formless” that need to be “invent[ed] from A to Z” which corresponds to “the sum of everything through which they can give each other pleasure.” He thus was opposed to “a kind of neat image of homosexuality” that cancels “everything that can be uncomfortable in affection, tenderness, friendship, fidelity, camaraderie and companionship, things which our rather sanitized society can’t allow a place for without fearing the formation of new alliances and the tying together of unforeseen lines of force.”

If this reflection about homosexuality is her starting point, Mimosa tends towards something much more vast in reality. Foucault himself insisted on the fact that homosexuality is only an “historic occasion” to invent new rules to the game. This mediation on friendship did not propose either a theory of relationships as such, nor a well-defined political program, but rather an invitation to seize a certain affective strength in our own lives that would also be a form of micropolitical engagement. I refer to this text because I believe the work of Mimosa Echard precisely explores the territory of friendship just as Foucault envisioned it, but in her own way. On one hand, Mimosa explores the territory of friendship in order to invent something such as a new affective and relational language, and on the other hand, she assumes the side that is perverse, deviant and beyond control of this exploration.

What happens here is a sexualization of friendship that is also reciprocally a friendification of sexuality. In this sense, even the most minor relationship established between one body and another, between one material and another, resembles a perverse or deviant sexual practice capable of opposing to the virtuous circle of heteronormative sexuality. This is why Mimosa’s work, exactly as in the interview with Michel Foucault, friendship is endowed with a rebellious, anti-social charge similar to paraphilias, non-normative sexualities classified in the beginning of the last century by Richard Von Krafft-Ebing in Psychopathia Sexualis. As noted by Foucault, “Institutional codes can’t validate these relations with multiple intensities, variable colors, imperceptible movements, changing forms. These relations short-circuit it and introduce love when there’s supposed to be only law, rule or habit.”

For Mimosa, “introduc[ing] love when there’s supposed to be only law,” is done by letting secreted bodily fluids overflow to experience pleasure. This pleasant overflow, has long been called ecstasy, a term that connotes in its etymology “the coming out of oneself.” To overflow the body, to come out of oneself, is a way to refuse the patriarchal dogma demanding women to contain their fluids and emotions. Mimosa Echard’s practice is ecstatic and torrential: the bodies liquefy, come together and unfurl upon a world in which oppressive norms persist in the in relentless reproduction of the same lie by pleasuring themselves.

Mimosa Echard revealed the secret of pleasure in a series of sculptures entitled Nymphes. Mimosa’s nymphs are statuettes in hair removal wax whose pastel and creamy tones range from yellow to green and pink. They were made from a mold of a sex toy that resembles, once again, a splinter or a weapon. In Greek and Roman mythology, nymphs personified the creative and productive activities of nature. Known for their numerous adventures, their name gave birth to the term “nymphomaniac,” which signifies hypersexuality. In myths, the nymphs were often associated with satyrs and fauns, who shared overwhelming libidos. Furthermore, in biology a nymph is the intermediary state between larvae and imago (the latter corresponding to the final state of individualization of the insect, as seen with butterflies). This is why the nymphs of Mimosas are simultaneously xenofeminist dildos and amulets that practice that art of transmutation. Pleasure, as Mimosa seems to whisper, could thus be a state obtained when the bonds of desire manage to put objects or forms in contact, and where the affective and sensual power engendered tends to metamorphose the bodies creating the experience. Art gives access to a world where everything interpenetrates and transforms, an orgiastic world where desire shows its fangs and pleasures compose a revolted alphabet in an obscure voice.

Dear Richard von Krafft-Ebing, I am writing you today from a long off future to ask you some questions that torment me. What is the mania in trans-material friendships? What is the name of the creature whose nymphomania and object of desire is everything that composes all of the worlds? What is the name of the deity that, as certain legends go, hides in the trees to touch him/herself, and in doing so, learns how to touch others in order to increase the desire through which the world is transmaterialised? What is the name of the evil suffered by those like Michel Foucault and Mimosa Echard that tries “to make [themselves] more susceptible to pleasure”?


There is a wager, in the Pascalian3 sense of the term, in the work of Mimosa Echard. Except here, the wager does not concern the existence of god, but the capacity to feel, suffer, be affected, and finally love and be loved. The initial postulate that animates her work presents an equivalence of empathy and plasticity. Plasticity refers to the ability to give and receive form. Empathy is based on the physical and psychological possibility of sharing pathos. Thus, between the beings, things and particles that compose matter and give the world its shifting shape, there would be a zone of affectivity where these beings, things and particles could encounter one another. In my opinion, the work of Mimosa consists of waging that such a zone exists, and that this pathic zone is simultaneously one of friendship, desire, pleasure and plasticity, an interstitial zone where forms are affected, affects are informed, and where material works to become the world. As friendship, love and sexuality, would consist of transforming one’s own life into such a zone, a zone both erogenous (generator of pleasure) and cosmogonic (creator of the world).

For this reason, it seems to me that the work of Mimosa Echard could allow us to understand the ultimate sense of the mystique, which is not in relation to god but to the practice of exploring this zone of affectivity where the creature is in contact with another creature, that she sometimes calls god, other times world, matter, or refuses to name, since the simple fact of experiencing this zone of affectivity is in and of itself amply sufficient.

Mimosa Echard’s materialistic ecstasies betray an attitude of rebellion that is not in line with recent developments on feminist/queer materialism, notably with Karen Barad’s “trans-materiality” and Stacy Alaimo’s “trans-corporeality”. For Barad, “Matter cannot help but touch itself in an infinite exploration of its (im/possible) be(com)ing(s). And in touching it/self, it partners promiscuously and perversely with otherness in a radical ongoing deconstruction and (re) configuring of itself. […] Ever lively, never identical with itself, it is uncountably multiple, mutable. Matter is not mere being,but its ongoing un/going.4” Following Barad, Stacy Alaimo asserts that “by emphasizing the movement across bodies, trans-corporeality reveals the interchanges and interconnections between various bodily natures. But by underscoring the trans-indicates movement across different sites, trans-corporeality also opens up a mobile space that acknowledges the often unpredictable and unwanted actions of human bodies, nonhuman creatures, ecological systems, chemical agents, and other actors.5

In this perspective, it may be that the queer has less horizon for the constitution of an exclusive identity than the invention of an art of links which is a way of resisting institutions in the name of an enlarged conception of friendship. Foucault wrote, “Homosexuality is an historic occasion to re-open affective and relational virtualities, not so much through the intrinsic qualities of the homosexual, but due to the biases against the position he occupies; in a certain sense diagonal lines that he can trace in the social fabric permit him to make this virtualities visible.” Coming back to the work of Mimosa Echard, it is precisely in the name of the reopening of these “affective and relational virtualities” that I would like to state that such a mixture of porous membranes and softened aliens, of desirable matter and secret revolt, gives the feeling of an emancipating power of a queer apocalypse.

Etymologically, the apocalypse consists of an unveiling movement. At the worst moment, a veil rises and reveals the secrets of the universe. Rather than showing us what is behind this veil, Mimosa Echard reveals the texture of the veil itself. For her piece LUCA, the exhibition space is structured by partitions of assembled fabrics. In the same sense, in the exhibition Spitting an image of you, the gallery white cube was slivered in two parts by a similar gigantic curtain. What was revealed than was some thing like the skin-being of the world. However, the skin in question is a true patchwork, an assemblage of disparate elements. Writing this, I realize that each time I speak with Mimosa, the word “membrane” comes up in some way or another. By uniting skins that are membranes, Mimosa only replays the movements of desire, which is a movement of friend ship, love, sex and pleasure, but that holds a dark secret in itself, the necessary possibility of suffering. Mimosa’s body of work consists of making contact between membranes, creating encounters between forms that are initially divided and separated, as they are originally. But these membranes are like rocks, it is enough to rub them together to create heat, sparks, fire. This fire made by forms rubbing against each other, that affect each other, is the fire of passion. The veils that Mimosa reveals to us are burning veils. The curtains are burnt curtains. The membranes are hot like the dog’s belly sleeping in the sun in Dürer’s Melancholia, and in the heights of the central curtain in Sptting an image of you. That is all Mimosa Echard has to offer in terms of apocalypse. Nothing could be more fulfilling.

I call the movement queer apocalypse through which, at the moment of extinction, a certain zone of affectivity is revealed like a privileged place of resistance against the destructive forces of necropolitical capitalism. If we were to act out an apocalypse of this genre, I would like to think that the work of Mimosa Echard would be of great assistance and that Mimosa herself, worried about secreting new forms of love, would appear at the end of a dark alley or through a cloud of dust in a vaguely monstrous form of an apocalyptical beast.

I realize as soon as I shut up that the only way to be faithful to this body of work in the form of a pop love apocalypse, I must write a fantasy novel that would be like a long theoretical poem in the form of an obscure zine or imaginary exhibition catalogue. Maybe one day I will write this book that I dream of. But maybe I already began writing it without even realizing it, the day that I visited the exhibition Friends. The force fields created by the works on display traced upon my brow the letters, which like in the Kabbalistic myth of the golem, animated me and changed me into a friend.

  1. According to Wilhelm Reich, the orgone would be “the medium that communicates emotion and perception, through which we would be connected to the cosmos and related to all that is alive”. In I still dream of Orgonon (2016), Mimosa Echard reinvents the orgonite, a material capable, according to Reich himself, of producing orgone. Mimosa Echard’s orgonites bring together, in plastic cans and bottles made of synthetic resin, various materials from the worlds of plants, minerals and animals.  

  2. Michel Foucault, “De l’amitié comme mode de vie”, Entretien avec R. de Ceccaty, J. Danet et J. Le Bitoux, Gai Pied n°25, avril 1981, pp. 38-39, in Dits et Écrits, Tome IV, texte n°293, Paris, Gallimard, Bibliothèque des sciences humaines, 1994.  

  3. Pascal’s argument tries to prove that a rational person has every interest in believing in God, whether or not God exists.  

  4. Karen Barad, “Transmaterialities. Trans*/matter/realities and Queer Political imaginings”, in GLQ – A Journal of Lesbian Gay Studies, volume 21, “queer-inhumanisms”, june 2015, p.411.  

  5. Stacy Alaimo, Bodily natures: science, environment, and the material self, Indiana University Press, Bloomington & Indianapolis, 2010.