Pierre Joseph — Maintenant
Past: January 24 → March 8, 2014
It is no small feat on the part of Pierre Joseph to have indexed his works to a constantly renewed now. He does not simply take up the meaning that Walter Benjamin attributed to the dialectical image, whose ’legibility’ is a function of its encounter with a ’present’, Joseph subverts the terms of it: it is the now, in its contextual, technological and cultural modalities, which determines the modalities of the artwork.
Although Pierre Joseph was one of the artists in the 90s involved in a redefinition of the practice and the thinking behind the work of art, he still persists in the undertaking. Thus the main work in the exhibition Endless Photographs is a series of snapshots taken in the Normandy forest near where he lives, using one of the latest models of camera, but with no attention paid to lining up the shots, no adjustments, and using modern methods of production for printing and production (developing and framing via a web site). What he reveals with this method is a now deprived of the romantic atmosphere of all forests, and of this forest in particular, which Barbey d’Aurevilly had described in a supernatural light in his novel The Bewitched (1854).
In creating some new ’living reactivatable characters’, after nearly ten years, Joseph seems to be applying this act of temporal redefinition to his own work. Although, at the time, he was referencing video games, the meaning is brought up to date in terms of today’s digital world, and also by questions associated with the ’tableau vivant’ or ’re-enactment’ (once again contemporary), which he recontextualises as soon as he raises them. Pierre Joseph seems, then, to invite us to entertain such a plasticity of meaning that he allows doubt to creep in as to whether there is any meaning at all, and the work invites one to ponder on the profundity of everyday things that he alone has understood. Looked at from this angle, his research aims less to discover anything, than to short-circuit all idea of virtuosity in order to reach this unattainable degree.
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