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Our "coup de coeur"

J'ai pas la conscience tranquile

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Ben Vautier

J'ai pas la conscience tranquile

Coup de coeur June 2024

I was 17 or 18, late 70s, the future seemed open, for sure he would be happy. I was walking in the alleys of the International Fair of Nice at the Palais des Expositions. Household appliances featured, useless gadgets of all kinds, everything an interior can accommodate more or less happy. And up there in the middle of the balconies a crowded, crazy and abundant space, that of Ben. Taken aback, I met Ben and Annie, so beautiful, so extraordinarily beautiful and cheerful. Their young children, Eva and François (aka Cunégonde and Malabar) offered, for a small room, sandwiches they had prepared. They laughed loudly, heckled, philosophized, talked about art, got carried away, I didn’t understand anything. A shock. Suddenly I felt old, intimidated and galvanized.
And then I knew them, frequented them. Annie, adorable and fine, knew how to put at ease visitors, she was the embodiment of grace. Ben, he frightened me a little, he had the verb high, the sense of the sometimes murderous formulas, the taste of controversy, his vivacity of mind astonished me. And again the delirious and colorful house, with facades covered with subversive works, everywhere a crazy flea market atmosphere. Ben was driving a crazy tavern covered with multicolored writings, the amazed passers-by followed her with their eyes. Admit that there was something to mess up a small provincial!

"Anniiiie !" , "Anniiiiie !" , "Anniiiiiiiiie !" She sometimes rebuked Annie. But she was still there, to classify and reclassify (because Ben had a passion for classification, archiving). Annie her muse, her advisor, her scratchy hair, her cordon bleu, her confidante, in short her pillar. Who else could have channelled this hyperactive troublemaker, his anxieties, his anger, his legendary bad faith? She and I used to joke about it. And sometimes, when we had finished battling him and me, little moments suspended and miraculous, he abandoned the provocative positions and gave me some sensitive advice, always just.
This June 5, 2024 Annie is gone. Gone? Oh, no, Ben won’t let her go without him. "Anniiiiiie, wait for me, I’m coming !" Yes, the immense loss is softened, we know them together, it is perhaps better that way.

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