Players of dice thrown at random

Marine Hugonnier rereads Mallarmé

Stéphane Mallarmé, the great Symbolist, pursued two chimeras: suggesting the object without naming it and going beyond writing by fusing poetry, music and art. Two milestones that he achieved with one of the most revisited and analysed poems of the twentieth century: A throw of the dice will never abolish chance.

Published in Cosmopolis magazine in 1897 and as a book in 1914, it brought poetry into modernity. Futurists, Dadaists and Surrealists helped popularise the work. Also, painters like René Magritte, Conceptualists like Marcel Broodthaers and artists like Marine Hugonnier. Mallarmé played with the printed characters, renounced arranging the verses symmetrically, set very long pauses alongside very short ones and offered a guide, a score, for reciting the poem aloud. In the 1960s, Broodthaers eliminated the words, replacing them with black marks. Later, in 2007, Hugonnier intervened in the poem by relating it to artists such as Richard Hamilton, Odilon Redon and Kurt Schwitters. In the work from the MACBA Collection, Un Coup de Dés Jamais N’abolira le Hasard – L’Espace Social N2, the artist incorporates into the poem images that evoke Hamilton’s aesthetic universe, reminding us that we are all players of dice thrown at random.

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