Billebaude n ° 15


Release the November 13

Fauve is he a beast or is he a beast a man? A prey or a predator?

How to capture its shimmering nuances? What does the beast say about our wild and animal fantasies? This new issue of Billebaude explores the polysemy of this term, with its gray areas, at the edge of the human and the animal, in which to rethink what fascinates us but also what brings us closer to otherness, however familiar. other living people.


Billebaude Collection

96 pages, 230 x 300 mm
Public price TTC France:

François Sommer Foundation

Anne de Malleray
Director of collection
Tel: 01 53 01 92 40

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Does Fauve refer to animals - the felines with which it is commonly associated, such as those in the Fauverie du Jardin des Plantes - or does it refer to humans and the fantasies that we project onto animals? Fauve is he a man or is he a beast? A prey or a predator? How to capture the shimmering nuances of the fawn? The confusion in which this word plunges us led Pierre-Louis Duchartre to confess impotence by formulating in his Dictionary of hunting this non-definition: "Fauve as an adjective and then as a noun is a good example of words which , by dint of having been inflated with different meanings, have burst. " 

This issue explores the polysemy of this term which remains "half-open", according to the expression of the anthropologist Nastassja Martin, with its gray areas, at the edge of the human and the animal, where to rethink what fascinates us but also what brings us closer to otherness, however familiar to other living beings.

Untranslatable in other languages, the fawn first designates a color chart - a pale beige before becoming a yellow tending to red or brown, in a long series of semantic shifts to which the historian Michel returns.

Pastoureau. In hunting literature, "wild beasts" primarily referred to ruminants with tawny coats - stags or roe deer - to distinguish them from "black beasts" and "red beasts".

It was later, in the eighteenth century, that it passed from prey to predator - tiger, lynx, wolf, bear or lion… - and finally to humans who let their animal impulses run free.

The imagination that revolves around the "beast" is marked by a representation of the savage as devouring and unleashed bestiality. A set of fantasies of which we seek, with the historian Pierre-Olivier Dittmar, to understand the origins in Western philosophical traditions and the Judeo-Christian heritage, which established the separation between animal passions and human reason, lust and morality, measure and instincts, up to the reversal of the stigma by the “Fauves” painters at the turn of the twentieth century. To feel the beast, to tame the beasts to put them in cages, to subdue them, or on the contrary to release them, the symbolic charges - negative or positive - of the beast are reflected in the diversity of uses of the word and many popular expressions.

We explore this imagination in literature, through “wild embraces” which in their nuances tell a story of disturbing and uncomfortable associations between desire and animality and with contemporary writers who sketch new avenues, as Anne emphasizes. Simon.

We are trying, according to the philosopher Baptiste Morizot, to “untwist” this imaginary, by multiplying the stories which give access to the way in which the other living beings are “familiar aliens”, radically different, while being close. "We are the same, without being the same", says Nate, tracker San, in the article that anthropologist Pierre du Plessis devotes to the shared hunting stories between humans and lions in the Kalahari and to the friendship between the lioness captivates Sirga and her healer Val, whose hugs have millions of views on YouTube.

Fauve, because it has never ceased to designate the one or what is interstitial, in the margins, also indicates the intensity of the encounter with the Other. The one in which you venture without knowing what you are going to find in your face, the one from which you do not come out without a metamorphosis, as Nastassja Martin tells it, or the artists Abraham Poincheval, Jesse Darling, Cécile Serres and Antoine Boute. It is no longer a question either of domesticating or of letting go of the wild animals, but rather of going "in their vicinity", according to the formula of Baptiste Morizot, to rediscover ways of being animal like the patience of the panther, and to come back. more alive, woven with animality in us.


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