Alain Declercq — Blast
Past: September 13 → October 12, 2013
Alain Declercq: Fighting Fire with Fire
There is something apt in the timing of Paris-based artist Alain Declercq’s forthcoming solo exhibition at Galerie Loevenbruck, as it emerges within the escalating furor unfolding out of the release of highly confidential documents by former US intelligence operative Edward Snowden. In the latest highly-sensitive documents the extent of surveillance undertaken by the US National Security Agency on the diplomatic offices of its European allies is beginning to reveal the disturbing scale and breadth of its operations, much to the embarrassment of the US Government and the dismay of surveilled allies.
As if in anticipation of this international subterfuge Declercq has been mining the realm of surveillance and military technologies over the past decade. Over this time the artist has engaged in many covert operations to reveal sites that are illegal to photograph and rigidly monitored (such as the Third Tunnel built by North Korean forces to invade South Korea in Please Don’t Take Pictures of the 3rd Tunnel, 2009), and events that prohibit photography (such as the trial of Djamel Beghal, an alleged Al Qaeda member in Beghal, 2005). But the most significant focus of his enquiry over this period has been within various sites of the US, ranging from government buildings, prison complexes or, most pertinently, the headquarters of US intelligence agencies. Through these intelligence-gathering operations, always covert and frequently using makeshift techniques of discreet image-making, the artist has developed an archive of forbidden images of rarified events and sites. It could be suggested that Declercq has set himself the task of contributing to the supervision of the US government’s information-gathering strategies and protocols, so that their infiltration of personal details and the protection of the agencies working toward the dismantling of systems of privacy might be held to some form of public account.
Declercq’s latest exhibition for Galerie Loevenbruck assembles two of his most recent researches, the new photographic series Blast (2013) and the related sculptural works (Glass Blast, 2012). The works in Blast continue the artist’s engagement in photographic processes as an outcome emerging out of an action and a means of capturing an event, phenomenon or activity. The series documents a series of explosions overseen by the artist to create a pictorial archive of chemical compounds currently or historically used for weaponry at the moment of their combustion. These serve as a kind of aestheticized facsimile of the explosive qualities of napalm, TNT, phosphorus and C4 among other explosive agents, capturing the moments when they shift from a state of stability to volatility.
The photographs that comprise Blast are flanked by another form of facsimile, in the vacated forms of Glass Blast, a series of blown-glass staffs that recreate these explosive moments three-dimensionally. Here the delicate forms of molten glass have been manipulated through the millennia-old techniques of glass-blowing to create a freeze-frame of these same moments of combustion, as if to curtail the devastating effects of the explosive chemical transformation at the critical juncture of stability and instability.
— Mark Feary, juin 2013.
Mark Feary is currently curator at Artspace Visual Arts Centre in Sydney. He has held programming and curatorial positions at West Space and the Centre for Contemporary Photography in Melbourne as well as working at the Australian Pavilion at the 2003 and 2005 Venice Biennales. He has undertaken a curatorial internship at P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center in New York, participated in the 2009 Gwangju Biennale International Curator Course in Gwangju, South Korea and recently took part in the Focus Program organized by the Institut français.
Opening Thursday, September 12, 2013 at 6 PM
6, rue Jacques Callot
T. 01 53 10 85 68 — F. 01 53 10 89 72
Tuesday – Saturday, 11 AM – 7 PM
Other times by appointment