Cervo, Beyond Culture

The Cabin Essence - Artists in Residence - Report by Max Lobe


My CERVO experience: soaring high

Three weeks in the Essence cabin, the Matterhorn greeting me every morning - what an honour!

Happiness is also to be found in the mountain ridges and the altitude.

The balcony has allure, wood, there's a lot of wood here, a whole art of living, the oriental influence of the restaurant, tea opens the door onto a sunny alleyway, Morocco, as if it were suddenly snowing in the centre of Marrakech, at the end of November.

After three weeks of looking for an angle of attack, planting and replanting the decor, pages and pages in the spa, I'm now sweating doubt.

Will I succeed?

The subject is huge. The father. You have to know how to move mountains.

I remember the massaging fingers. The fingernails are well trimmed, round around the edges, everything you could love when it glides, glides, glides down your back, there, yes, there again. The movement makes a noise, like a caress on the lobe.

What if the father I'm looking for is like the one in Paul Austin's The Invention of Solitude, the transparent father who doesn't size you up, none of the fathers are like the one I'm looking for.

I make myself a cup of tea, the blanket draped over my shoulders, I pull open the sliding door, hello Matterhorn! the chair-transat has the comfort of a hammock. In it, I put all the memories I have and set them down at the foot of the mountain, with the computer on my lap.

It takes a good ten unhappy memories to suddenly, at last, fall into place, an oooh!, ouiii!, je me souviiieeens! Daddy likes to dance like this, one-two, one-two, funky-makossa, Daddy dances like a cross-country skier, it's snowing up there on the CERVO, and I sway to the music of Eko Rooselvelt, one by one imprinting the faces of my fathers, from God the father to the fathers of independence, not forgetting the sire.

My experience at the Cabine Essence at the CERVO is like looking beyond the mountain.

A word about my project

What does a kid do when you put him on the bench? He dreams. He dreams, blissfully, lying on his back, his arms crossed behind his head, his hair frizzy and his gaze riveted upwards, the mango tree abundant and fragrant, the grass fresh and the sun gentle.

On 1 January 1960, Ahidjo declared Cameroon independent. Father Gwet Njé was in his village of Longassè, and the news had the aftertaste of defeat.

With funky-makossa as a backdrop and in the company of his friends Corneille, Henri-Michel and DG the Russian, Father Gwet Njé spent his time drinking while criticising the country's "wobbly approach".

From his flat in Geneva, Benjamin Müller tells the story of a family whose roots lie in the struggle for Cameroonian independence. How did this help shape the black, gay and Swiss man he has become?

Rudolf Duala Manga Bell, Um Nyobè, Ahidjo, Paul Biya, Max Lobe paints a portrait of the men who made Cameroon what it is today.

What is this thing called La chose père? What kind of disco ball could it be?

With this novel, Max Lobe confirms his mastery of storytelling, language in motion, as in a dance, satire as freedom of tone.