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La Conciergerie : Ahmet Ertuğ : Journey into stones and light


“There is something stimulating, and always intimidating for me, about exhibiting in historic places. Especially at the Conciergerie, a few meters from the Sainte-Chapelle in Paris, which in my eyes is the monument of monuments in terms of Gothic spirituality.”

“Monuments of monuments” is Ahmet Ertuğ’s obsession. From February 9 to May 20, a beautiful mise en abîme takes place under the ancestral vaults of the Gens d’Armes room of the Conciergerie. If the walls  have witnessed the discussions of the royal banquets of the Middle Ages and the secrets of the prisoners of the Revolution,  they listen today to the cheerful comments of the curious and history enthusiasts who discover the monuments captured by the Turkish photographer.

Thierry Grillet, curator of the exhibition, with the Center des monuments nationaux which conserves, restores and organises shows in the Conciergerie, offers a selection of twenty large format prints of the work of Ahmet Ertuğ and in doing so invites us on a contemplative and exceptional meditative. Between France and Italy, in the style of the “Grand Tour”, this journey initiated by young aristocrats between the 17th and 19th centuries, this trained architect makes us discover or re-discover spiritual places, places of study, and of power, temples of knowledge, or even rooms and facades with eccentric details. These photos are arranged on easels around the columns of the room, and invite the visitor to wander in spirals; a way for the artist not to follow “the geographical map, but [to] obey the internal map of what makes, in [his] eyes, the beauty of an architecture.”

These classic masterpieces of heritage all respond to the three principles established by the theorist Vitruvius in De Architectura: solidity, in particular by “the choice of the best materials”, utility, “by arranging the places in such a way that one can use it easily”, and beauty, “by giving the work a pleasant and elegant form which flatters the eye with the accuracy and beauty of the proportions.” And it is particularly this last point that Ahmet Ertuğ manages to magnify. As he himself explains: “I am following in the footsteps of the architect who built what I see before my eyes and from whom I am separated by several centuries. I wonder where this man would have stood to admire his work and that’s where I set up my camera. The whole soul of the place is resurrected in my final image.”

Thanks to his expert architectural eye and his photographic talent, Ertuğ captures and freezes these buildings with true technical prowess. Hall of the Giants of the Palazzo del Te, room of the World Map of the Palazzo Farnese, facade of the Basilica of Saint Mark in Venice, gallery of Sculptures of the Palazzo Grimani, Laurentian library in Florence, headquarters of the Société Générale or even Sainte Chapelle…. Like a surveyor, he scrutinizes every corner of space, analyzes the perspective in the smallest details, seeks the vanishing point to position himself and transcribe all the power and beauty of these places. Thus, these monuments are revealed in a new light, offering an enveloping view that the human eye cannot grasp alone. Through the use of large negative films and extended exposure times, every detail, every contour is captured, allowing the viewers to immerse themselves in the location and linger there. The inscriptions on the columns, the roughness of the floors, the precision of the sculptures… So many elements which transport us to the very heart of the design of these mythical places, revealing the finesse and talent of their creators and those who bring to us  this common heritage.

Marine Aubenas


Ahmet Ertuğ : Voyage dans les pierres et la lumière
Until May 20, 2024
La Conciergerie
2, boulevard du Palais
75001 Paris

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