Galerie Papillon in Ostend regularly surprises its public with offbeat choices. The exhibition Passages in September 2022 chooses two exceptional photographers: Cecilia Paredes and Frederic Fontenoy. Although they seem very different at first glance, both integrate a very personal story into their worlds.
Cecilia Paredes, a Peruvian-American artist, works mainly on themes such as migration and displacement. She is best known for her series Paisajes (Landscapes), photographs in which she literally and figuratively blends into the wallpaper. One of her works was featured in the Directors’ Fortnight at this year’s Cannes Film Festival.
Cecilia: When I was 33, I left Peru for good for political reasons. But Peru has never left me, I have a strong bond with it, and I am aware of all the political conflicts that have caused this love-hate relationship. I have lived most of my life abroad. Costa Rica is also a place I can call home, because I lived there for 24 years. It wasn’t until I moved to the United States in 2004 that I started working on projects about migration and how to approach new territories. This led to the creation of the Paisajes series, a series of photo-performances in which I integrate myself into the setting by means of body paint. I am interested in nature and the relationship between man and nature. I am also a political person, so society and culture are intertwined in my thinking with themes like abuse, dictatorship and ecology. Chico Mendes, a Brazilian environmentalist who was murdered, said that an environmentalist who is free of any accusation is equivalent to a gardener. My work denounces injustice in a poetic and metaphorical way, so that each viewer can interpret and understand it in their own way.
Frederic Fontenoy is a Parisian photographer. Since 2006, he has been working on secrets. In his most recent works, one image is even hidden behind another, much like Courbet’s Origin of the World, which has been hidden from the uninformed viewer for decades.
In an attempt to find himself, Fontenoy rips off all the shutters of his family past. He follows in the footsteps of his grandparents, on his mother’s side a Jewish grandfather who had to go into hiding during the war, on his father’s side an eccentric Havas journalist who, like Tintin, travelled from Moscow to Shanghai and finally disappeared in the rubble of the Third Reich’s capital, Berlin. In his wake, a whole network of French intellectuals from the interwar period disappears like an opium hallucination. But other secrets lurk in the family shadow, such as the lovers of his wife Lizica Codréano, an avant-garde Romanian dancer, not to mention the artists of the interwar period whose work is frequently cited in these highly stylised black and white photographs. Is this master of photographic storytelling a slave to his family history? Far from it. He shapes it as he pleases, unravels it, opens the door to his personal perspectives, mirrors the entire history of the 20th century to create a totally unique and immediately recognisable universe that is both inviting and intriguing.
3 September – 30 October 2022,
Ostend, Madridstraat 2.
Friday to Sunday from 14:00 to 18:00.