Text by Christian Caujolle, Post, Actes Sud, Arles, July 2016
The images are sharp. Absolutely sharp, formidably precise. They are simple images. Photographs which focus on an object. A single object, centred, marked out. An object that photography sets up in a space, its space, definitive and uncomfortable. No approximation, no effect, no gloss. The clarification and distancing of things. Putting elements into place. The pieces of a puzzle that is yet to be assembled. To be gathered together. To be reconstructed.
The sharpness of the images combines with the permanence of the light that makes it possible. With its consistency, its repetition. An extremely white light, paradoxical, flattening at the same time as sculpting. A formidable light, excavating details but not enhancing them. An operating room light. Surgical.
Photography and sculpture have more to do with one with one another than painting and photography. Here more than ever. Sculpture invents space, its space. Objects, contrary to appearances, are not its subject. Indeed these objects allow space to be structured rather than other objects to be represented and displayed. Here the photographs are softly toned, to gather the force of the whiteness, to denote the sculptures. They observe and clarify the space, not the objects. Confined space. Framed, which leaves barely any escape. No escape in fact. Impossible. Because there is necessity. Everything is necessity. For survival.
The compressed car evokes César’s artwork. An upright hand marked by a trickle of blood refers back to performance art. The chicken on its stand draped in black velvet, back to a fine arts and art school tradition. We could multiply useless repetitions. Yet, it is not about this at all. The jacket is too large for the fair-haired child.
Everything is sharp. Precise. There is unease. Discomfort. Brusque. Without apparent emotion. Devoid of all pathos. All explanation. Permanent but never spectacular tension. Irreducible tension.
Absolute necessity. Because the elements must be named so that they can then be uttered clearly. The wound of a coat streaked with blood. Spattered. But sharp. Irremediably sharp on its wall. In an impassable way. A matter of necessity.
Self-portrait. Danger of genre. Constant risk. That of narcissism. That of complacency. That of false identity. Of the displaced protection of one’s image. Nothing of that sort here. Yet it is a selfportrait. It is nothing but a self-portrait. Because there was no other type possible. Because it was necessary to go through a moment of reconstruction. To allow for reconstruction. Self-portrait in snatches, fragments. But sharp. No romanticism. No gloss. Sharp. Always sharp. No narrative either. Each image is a frozen tale. Not a story. Not a development. A statement. Sharp. A need for statement. There is memory. The shaping of memory. Memories, old or new, which create their space. Sculptures. The light sculpts memory laid bare. Then the fragments must be combined, assembled, pieced together, put aside. To reconstruct and not construct. We do not start from nothing. We never, in fact, start from nothing.
Accepting the representation of self. Until the mould. Until the idea of the identical which grazes identity. Like the minute distance that separates the sculpture of a face from the death mask. Diversity of expressions in order to signify life that continues. White against a white background. But the white does not exist. Plaster against a light background. Painful and calm variations of the portrait. Seen from the front, from above. Both in relief and flattened on a background. Pinned, by an unknown entomologist, like the variations of a species. Again a statement of different phases. Re-creation. Memory as well. However, nothing scientific, apart from the appearance. But, there again, necessity. To assume. Therapy? Perhaps. Some expressions take on a new meaning: looking at yourself from front on.
An indisputable approach because it is indispensable. Vital. Steady images respond to traumatism. Or accompany it. Or substitute themselves for it. Or express it. No other possibility. Just images which also refuse to choose their status. Neither symbolic nor metaphorical. Merely indispensible. There.
Feelings, although they are not expressed, are evoked. Imagined by a me who looks. Fear. Suffering. Constant cold. Clinical white that is never white but always clinical. Spaces that are never vast. Which never breathe. Constrained spaces. The way everything is constrained after the accident. In the process of returning. The most difficult will probably remain the piecing together of the grey monochrome puzzle. Difficult or impossible? Very difficult, in any case, to finish.
Terrible accident. Spectacular. Everything is broken. Everything. In a great noise. Later, today, now, there are the after images. White. Absolute silence. Sharp.
Christian Caujolle, journalist, writer, founder of the Agency and the Gallery VU