Almost Animated — Bernd & Hilla Becher, Jean Dupuy, Michel Journiac...
Bernd & Hilla Becher, Jean Dupuy, Michel Journiac...
Past: February 5 → March 26, 2016Almost Animated — Galerie Loevenbruck Forte d’une double problématique de l’image animée et de la performance, Almost Animated impose une réflexion ambitieuse sur la pho... Critique
“It is often said that it was the painters who invented Photography […]. I say: no, it was the chemists. […] The photograph is literally an emanation of the referent. […] the photograph of the missing being […] will touch me like the delayed rays of a star.”
Roland Barthes, La Chambre claire, 1979.
Almost Animated is a reflection on the evolution and role of photography in the 1970s and 80s.
After the avant-gardes, photography itself was called into question: its relation to the real — its purported objectivity — was deconstructed by artists conscious of its deep ambiguity. Published by Roland Barthes in the middle of this period, La Chambre Claire (Camera Lucida) was like a thunderbolt. “For the photograph’s immobility is somehow the result of a perverse confusion between two concepts: the Real and the Live: by attesting that the object has been real, the photograph surreptitiously induces belief that it is alive, because of that delusion which makes us attribute to Reality an absolutely superior, somehow eternal value; but by shifting this reality to the past (‘this has been’), the photograph suggest that it is already dead. Hence it would be better to say that Photography’s inimitable features (its noeme) is that someone has seen the referent (even if it is a matter of objects) in flesh and blood, or again in person.”
The exhibition opens with an iconic piece by Bernd and Hilla Becher, Vergleich: Fördertum — Transformator (1970). Over the years the two German photographers began to abandon their systematic inventories of industrial architecture and develop series of views of certain objects, taken from different angles. The almost kinetic result was the result of a paradoxical attempt — stimulated by their research into experimental cinema — to visually “animate” the inanimate, anticipating Barthes’ insight that, “In Photography, the presence of the thing (at a certain past moment) is never metaphoric; and in the case of animated beings, their life as well, except in the case of photographing corpses; and even so: if the photograph then becomes horrible, it is because it certifies, so to speak, that the corpse is alive, as corpse: it is the living image of a dead thing.”
Playing with Dead Things also happens to be the title of a seminal text by Mike Kelley in which he considers from a psychoanalytical viewpoint his relation with childhood fetishes, which were the source of new forms of performance in the 1970s.
This founding theme irrigates the exhibition as a whole, which confronts and superimposes practices from this period when performance was no longer seen as heroic or transgressive, but more as a ritual staging of the pitiless dissection of the Self. This is confirmed here in sequences by Michel Journiac, Hermann Nitsch and Gina Pane, whose practice of body art all had a strong self-analytical dimension. With them are captures of Nam June Paik’s movements by Peter Moore, unreal images of soft chewing gum on black and white paper by Alina Szapocznikow and Roman Cieslewicz (all that remains of the “rumination” of sculptures) and the light, free gestures of Olga Adorno and Jean Dupuy that shift art as action towards a kind of delicate and sensitive self-sculpture. As for Ria Pacquée, she has invented two alter-egos: a masculine one, and a “Madame” who is a concentrate of adolescent anxieties — the famous “lobster complex” of the creature momentarily losing its shell — and uses fantasy narrative as a form of catharsis.
Exploring the relation between photography and sculpture — the Bechers in fact won the Grand Prize for Sculpture at the Venice Biennale in 1990 –, between the animate and the inanimate, between gesture and thought, Almost Animated brings together eight artists whose work is constantly being reread in the light of its contemporary heritage in work by later artists for whom these issues are of central importance.
Acknowledgements: the artists and right-holders as well as Stéphane Corréard, Christophe Gaillard, Galleria Elefante, Anne Marchand and Piotr Stanislawski.
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