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Immixgalerie : Collectif Atelier B_Photo : Archives and so on


Until March 30, Immixgalerie presents a collective exhibition entitled: Archives et ainsi de suite. With the works by Christelle Boulin, Jean-Luc Chekroun, Françoise Constant, Nathalie Guepratte, Gloria Karayel. Curator Gloria Karayel wrote this text:

There are no happy coincidences in this exhibition. No suitcases found in flea markets which would reveal precious negatives. No photographic discoveries to enrich the new owners of an old house. Nor are there any clichés of adventure found after so many years of being forgotten in a drawer. If we speak of archives here, it is not from the raw material: historical document, accidental find or memory of the past, but from its art transformation into a photographic object. In this sense, the archive is more the place where the documents are kept than the document itself. Keep? Not really. Finding old photos, a few papers yellowed by time, objects that belonged to someone who is no longer there, that’s just a starting point.

The object archive

In “The Word of Things” (Nathalie Guépratte) everything begins with an architect’s plan, that of a house that the artist’s grandfather had built. This project, which became a place of life, has since been transformed into a memory, a mental image, a thing from the past linked to the present through the unique presence of a found object. “This small construction, which I have never inhabited, reestablishes a link between the world inside me, resulting from the history of the family, and that outside” says the artist. Like the house which no longer belongs to his family but which has nevertheless become this archive where “things from the past” are preserved, the artist does not show his souvenir objects but their framed photo, in a manner to step back from feelings, but also to tell something that the thing alone cannot say. By taking the place of objects as “vehicles of memory”, their photos reinject subjective memories into collective memory and fuel the complexity of the relationships between reality and its representation.

The form of the archive

What then is the nature of these legacies which inevitably fall into our hands when our ancestors disappear? Are they really there to document a past that no longer exists? To tell us a little story in the big one? Giving us family secrets? “The satchel” (Jean-Luc Chekroun) circumvents the banality of “giving things to be seen” through formal means. By moving away from the memorial aspect, objects that once belonged to others become raw material to be manipulated, modified, even constructed. One step after another, as in the making of a film, the artist chooses his framing, directs the camera movements, takes care of the cutting and editing based on a given scenario. “Since my father died, I have kept an old satchel next to me that belonged to him. I never wanted to take an inventory of it or explore its contents in detail. I am not expecting an answer that could shed light on the past. I rather wonder about its future, its destination, its persistence after me.” Without unveiling, without revelation, without idealization, the artist offers a story which is only photographic form.

Build the archive, archive the memory

From the small to the big story, “Memory repetition absence” (Françoise Constant) is a return trip into the past with a detour through imagination and self-reflection. From her experience of reading “Kaddish for the child who will not be born” by Imre Kertész, the artist constructs an archive that is both imaginary and factual, terribly personal in her duty of memory in order to fight against forgetting a common past that once seemed indelible. If the raw material does not belong to her, the creative gesture is a lived experience, the powerful feeling of being part of a story greater than oneself. Like an imaginary architecture, this triptych is a sort of memorial, the construction of a historical imprint under the sign of empathy. Humbly, to remember is to be part of humanity.

Meta archives

The same photo taken a hundred times to capture an emotion never before achieved. Always returning to the same place, starting from the same framing, constantly repeating the well-known route in order to find these images that we know by heart, being incapable of changing point of view. Obsession, repetition, frenzy, accumulation, inability to stop. Again and again, every hour of the day and every season of the year. And feeling invaded afterwards, by all these images that come together, being overwhelmed by the emotion that they provoke, each of them. Ultimately, not knowing how to choose, nor having the courage to throw away. “Obsession, indecision” and “Recto / Verso” (Christelle Boulin) are two meta-photographic works, two attempts to describe the sensation of visual overflow when faced with one’s own photo archive. In the era of compulsive images which were born with digital photography and which intensified with the unlimited storage possibilities of the cloud, photo archives are no longer a past but a continuous present, an endless scroll sometimes banal of images, which we will perhaps catalog in the future.

The invention of an archive

Once upon a time there were archives which no longer have a future, nor a present for that matter. These are the archives which were destroyed, erasing in the process all traces of That-has-been. No more images to bear witness to or to document, no more possible recognition of a reality, a thing or a past event. To compensate for this absence of visual memories in a story that was (or could have been, one could say), “Before the Civil War” (Gloria Karayel) invents an archive from scratch. From a mental image, like a visual memory of the artist, the re-created photographic gesture takes over memory and imposes itself as a possible transcription of a story that we had wanted to forget. But once again, more than the collection of ancient things (Archéo), it is the act of beginning and ordering (Arkhein) that is at stake: creation, rather than conservation.

Gloria Karayel


Archives et ainsi de suite
Until March 30th, 2024

116, Quai de Jemmapes
75010 Paris

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