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6, rue Jacques Callot
t +33 1 53 10 85 68
f +33 1 53 10 89 72
05.02.2016 - 26.03.2016
Bernd & Hilla Becher, Jean Dupuy, Michel Journiac, Peter Moore, Hermann Nitsch,
Ria Pacquée, Gina Pane and Alina Szapocznikow
“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
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 alteregos: 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.
Alexandra Schillinger, firstname.lastname@example.org, t 01 82 28 38 22,
assisted by Lola Ector; email@example.com
Opening hours: Tues-Sat, 11 a.m. - 7 p.m. and by appointment