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Archivist and The Other Hats

I have often spoken about the privileged relationship I have built with Nil. Despite our differences in age, background, profession, and life paths, these have never been obstacles to our connection; on the contrary, it may be in the crucible of our differences that our symbiosis was built.

Since the beginning of the project, I have taken on the role of archivist by regularly visiting Nil once a week. While I have often talked about our work on her archives, I

have rarely mentioned the other “missions“ that Nil and I occasionally undertake together. Given Nil’s age and the whirlwind of demands and requests generated by her receiving a Golden Lion, some tasks become more challenging for her. She gladly takes advantage – with my full agreement and pleasure – of my presence to take care of these few tasks.

For example, just over a month ago, Nil needed to change her phone. We quickly put on our boots and coats and headed to the nearest Apple Store. Nil knew exactly what she wanted to buy, but I had the impression that my presence gave her both motivation (the Apple Store on the Champs-Élysées is certainly not the most relaxing place!) and peace of mind. Once back home, I made sure to properly set up her new phone and transfer all of her data. Setting up the Face identification was a good laugh, haha! Nil loves it now.

Image 1 : Nil at the Apple Store, examining options for her new iPhone 

I have also accompanied her on grocery shopping trips, picking up some fruits and vegetables, cold cuts, and milk for the week.

Image 2 : Nil shopping for groceries.

More recently, Nil kindly asked me to help demystify some complex administrative documents sent by an American museum that had acquired one of her installations. Nothing too serious, but an additional task for a busy artist like Nil, adding extra stress.

Image 3: Nil and I are making a short video for a mutual artist friend

I also help her respond to her emails, give her a hand with administrative tasks. Last time, we had an issue with her phone: a call to Orange to fix the problem. One day, I stopped by the FNAC to buy her the SSD she wanted. We even traveled together to Switzerland; I accompanied her every step of the way, from her home to the hotel in Geneva.

Video 1 : Nil and I in the train from Geneva to Paris

Nil and I have our weekly meeting next Saturday. There’s a good chance we’ll spend an hour or two at the Apple Store buying new gadgets. Indeed, Nil feels more and more urgency to replace her computer and/or buy a laptop. I sent her a list of recommendations that we will review together and I will be happy to accompany her again to the Apple Store.

I take the time to write about these “off-project“ moments because they seem just as significant as those shared during the project’s construction. I feel that with Nil, my role exceeds the strict boundaries of professional tasks, inviting me to take on other responsibilities and explore unforeseen territories where the archive, ultimately, intertwines with daily life. Accompanying Nil on her weekly shopping trips, taking the train with her, helping her write her emails may seem trivial at first glance, but it is here that the seeds of trust and complicity are sown. It is in these moments that the “other hats” I wear become symbols of our partnership, revealing another essence of our collaboration.

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