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Nicolas Baudouin


“Spirits of our time”

This series of post-photographic portraits obviously pays homage, a century later, to the work bearing the same title (in the singular) by the artist Raoul Haussmann.

Haussmann’s Spirit of Our Time (1920) is one of the first sculptures in the history of Western art made up exclusively of various objects recovered by the artist and assembled together to produce a singular and ironic work.

The Spirits of Our Time series of portraits also proceeds from this act of appropriation by assembling two images: a figure and a background, a portrait and a landscape. The figure will have been chosen from among the hundreds of thousands of images available for free on a website offering royalty-free images and it will be embedded in a “landscape” chosen from among the thousands of my photographs stored on my computer. The image thus composed will therefore have a hybrid quality in which will combine the purely photographic appropriation of “taking a photo” and the more radical appropriation borrowing from another photographer the human presence that was lacking in my landscape.

The results of these montages are part of an atypical photographic genre, sometimes reminiscent of the prosaic and somewhat artificial side of the image of a photo novel or of film set photography; the beginning of the narrative seems to be expressed without fully satisfying expectations; familiarity combined with frustration disturb the viewer. These images do not have the accuracy of the traditional portrait but they retain the flavor sometimes disturbed by a new indeterminate ingredient.

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