Webbie Debbie
François-Xavier Guiberteau

Webbie Debbie

I arrived during the night. The light now begins to rise; I wake up. I
leave the fruit bowl and navigate between the lemons and the clem-
entines. My body hair gently caresses the skin of the colorful citrus.
I find myself on top of the slightly shaking gray fridge, I feel its slight
sucking sound. In the middle of carafes and bowls, where smells
of thyme, garlic and bay leaves come from, I am surrounded by
dust and crumbs, I have difficulty seeing clearly. I start climbing one
of the hanging cupboards to get out of there. I bounce off the wall
socket and climb upwards. At the top, some objects hold the guard.
Unlike most spiders, jumping spiders are visually oriented diurnal
predators which memorize their environment, distances and orien-
tations. These eyes of a very great visual acuity allow them to see a
movement, a sexual partner, as well as a vision of colors.
A few more steps and I’m there. I climb on the first one that resem-
bles a jolly good man. He is made of old green plastic and his face
is all rusty. I move on to his porcelain neighbor, then a fiddling hare,
finally to a churchman dildo. They are lined up, inanimate, and
they are all staring and smiling in the same direction. I sneak up on
them. They let me get on top of them. I’m careful not to disturb them
as I grope around, gently placing my little paws on their surface. I’m
being sweet. I take pleasure in going through them. They have a
fresh look, some shine and reflect the sun. I like their cheerful col-
ors and generous forms, their joyful curves and the lightness of their
delighted features. I hop from one to the other. Hoping not to tickle
them. They are nice without reacting. They don’t refuse me. I don’t
inspire them nor to scream, nor to fear. I am not their prey and they
are not mine. Finally at the top of one of them, from a white clown
that almost touches the polystyrene ceiling, I can see the area.
The jumping spider of the Salticidae family can see, it can even see
very well because of its advanced eyes whose main pair retina is
mobile. It is thus able to zoom.
I see below a bearded teapot who seems to want to start singing
with a microphone in its mouth, further on I see a fruit on the top of
a small donkey, finally a miniature figure barely bigger than me, a
centimeter at most, accompanied by a small leather mouse. Thus
arranged, their parallel stare, their interrupted actions, their long
and dark shadows cutting with the luminosity of the board, they
form the enigmatic assemblies of a secret ritual. I can finally see
where their gazes land. They all seemed to be looking into the
void. Laughing about not noticing anyone. But in the distance their
colors and shapes shine. Other friends and kind folks seem to have
gathered, alone or in couples, lying in colorful niches. Driven by
my curiosity, I jump off my mount, thanking my new friends for their
caresses. Move forward, Debbie! Clinging to my only silk thread I
descend into the void. The air cushions my fall, making me deviate
slightly. I go from the soft shadow of the heights to the bright light
of the day that illuminates the ground. Through the window the
sky is blue, bright and dry. I see it gradually taking up all the space
through the window. I fall and I feel good. I fall softly on the ground
heated by the sun. I let go of my thread which now floats above me.
Salticidae are small. Their body length varies between 1 and 25
mm. Often stocky on short legs, they are recognizable by their rapid
and jerky movement. Unlike other suborders, they do not weave
webs. Like other spiders, it produces silk, but it produces only a
small thread that it sometimes leaves behind and uses it to secure
itself during its movements.
From leap to leap I get closer. I am one with the ground, a false
parquet floor in dark wood color which is, the more I sink into the
depths of the room, strewn with small spots, drops of dry colors
pave the way. I begin to recognize shapes. From afar they look like
the objects above the cupboard. They do not say anything either,
they do not move. The more I advance the more these characters
grow. They get longer and longer. At their feet it is impossible for
me to have a full vision. They get lost in the ceiling. I jump, I jump
as high as possible, projecting my hemolymph in my two back
legs which propel me in the air. I see them fully, these faces, these
shapes, I recognize them. I jumped again. There they are! They
now surpass their models in size and color. Some have changed
their expressions and seem pensive, almost sad. They seemed to
be happy when I first met them. The plans and perspectives of the
niches in which they are located extend the space of the apartment,
creating a double optical illusion. The same scene, the same small
theater whose colors, shades and tints encompass me. Each of my
eight eyes sees an element, a detail, a line, a different version of
the environment.
Four of these eyes are located on the front of the head, of which
the two of the centers, which are bigger, allow a binocular vision.
The others are arranged in crown on its sides, giving it a monocular
vision, except the last two which are used to observe what occurs
behind it. The Salticidae thus have a field of vision to 360°.
On the floor, surrounded by white paper between the pots of color,
a faceted and colored surface stretches out. I go from one flat to the
other. Pink orange. Soft blue. Light green. From light to dark, from
pale to saturated. Kaleidoscope, I turn around and each of my eyes
is bathed in color. I leap with excitement to the point of dizziness;
and have to stop. It pings in my head. My paws go numb. I become
a prism. I send back distorted images in the 4 corners of the
apartment. I become a tiny broken mirror in the center of an ocean
of sensations. My hairs stand on end, my two biggest eyes open
wide in trance. In this bath of visions, I gather in the middle of this
mute gathering. I advance in line by spasms followed by astonished
looks. I advance without really realizing it. I now have the head
downwards, the eight legs stretched to the ceiling. Some of the
inverted figures are making sense again. The others do not seem
so disturbed by the reversal of space. I can finally see the image on
the floor: a car lost in the middle of a sour dream. In one movement
of the head I can see the same face three times. I jump from one
surface to another. From one color to another, from one face to
the next, re-drawing the curves that I had liked so much, the now
flattened convolutions. Climbs the verticals and horizontals. I get
dizzy. Suddenly a sound. Trembling, footsteps. The sound of metal.
It opens, expands. A man appears in the opening. Hits the ground.
Quickly to hide. The exit. Run, jump, leap, save yourself. The
opening closes, slams and shakes. Too late. The man advances,
the metal clinks. Jump, jump, hide behind a pot. He moves forward.
Maybe I should go to the window, leave him, and turn back. I climb
the shelf, the rows of books, one after the other. Using the scraps
of paper, the colored and patterned cards stuck between the pages
as a step. From one leap to another, I reach the top. I pass behind a
sheet of paper crumpled into a ball, I have to make my way through
the folds. Past the last pile of books I find the friendly look of my
friends. They are up there. Their looks encourage me. Come on
Debb’ a few jumps and you’re at the window.
I see it. That’s not unusual. Often these little spiders come into the
apartment. They have to go through the window, I leave them open when
I leave. With the plants on the balcony, I got used to seeing insects come
in. But I must say that I like them. Although I’m not a big fan of spiders
like most people. All those legs, all those eyes…can quickly make me
cringe. I remember this one spider that once crawled into my t-shirt before
I put it on and feeling something move and shaking the t-shirt, a big black
spider fell to the floor. But it was much bigger than this tiny thing that is
now in front of me on the immaculate work surface. I see it all the more
as the light of the window makes a growth appear, its shadow which then
doubles its size. Otherwise it would have disappeared as if camouflaged
in a crumb or a paint stain. I approach to see it more closely. Bent in two,
I bend over to study it in more detail. She seems to be looking at me too
without moving. “Stay, cutie pie. You have as much right to come live here
as I do.” I stand up.
He stands up. His enormous head and his two giant eyes drifted
away. I am as much as petrified by the face to face that could
announce the end of my life as much as the intense curiosity that
it has provoked in me. He turns, I can continue. I get back on the
road, climb, bounce, cross a large void, weave through the fires
and splashes of grease and cooked egg. I get back to the humming
fridge and the fruit bowl. The window is closed. The light is fading.
I find a sheltered corner under the curve of a lemon protected by
the voluntary gaze of an electronic outlet. It also has big eyes, so
it will watch all night long. I don’t know how long I will stay. From a
distance the thing doesn’t look so impressive. From above it doesn’t
look much bigger than the others; they even look alike. They seem
to be part of the same family. It undresses, is now almost naked.
It is hairy, and so am I.


This exhibition is curated by Belsunce Projects, at Pina Wien.
Pina is a non-profit exhibition space directed by artists and curators Bruno Mokross and Edin Zenun since 2017.
It was founded as pinacoteca by Susanne Richter and Claudia Brandl-Linder in 2013.

Große Neugasse 44/2
1040 Vienna