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Topography of Art : Contours of Reality


What do we see when we look at a photograph? Contemporary artists and photographers Mathieu Bernard-Reymond, Michel Campeau, James Casebere, Gregory Crewdson, José Damasceno, Denis Darzacq, Alexandre Dufaye, Mickaël Marchand, Sarah Pickering, Catherine Rebois, Patrick Tosani and Bernard Voïta have come together to confront, question and consider the “Contours of the Real”. This new exhibition raises questions about representation, one that brings into play the real, reality, fiction or even pretense…

“Certain photographic stagings managed down to the smallest detail are often so acute that they restore a preponderant perception of reality, if indeed we agree on a definition of reality and the real. Since its origin, one of the essential concerns of photography has been its particular relationship to these notions. The photographic descriptive power also refers us to intensity, especially since the staging of reality arouses confusion. And if the real does not exist in itself, on the other hand, the perception of reality does make sense…

… Fiction would tell imagined facts while truth would tell the facts as they happened. Is it so simple? It is obviously impossible to deduce that the fictional narrative is false. Telling or representing is already giving an interpretation of reality. Fiction is not a story that talks about facts that did not happen. Everything is fiction and we need the story to grasp the world, it is articulated more precisely through perception. The real is above all what we discern through our senses, what we hear, what we see and what we consider…

… Photographic vision, for its part, does not reproduce the human gaze, on the contrary it gives to see the invisible. This is a precision given, already at the time, by Étienne Jules Marey, doctor, physiologist, photographer and French inventor: according to him photography would develop a more mental than visual approach. Photography, for example, cannot show movement as we perceive it. Chronophotography by breaking down movement, thanks to a photographic gun, also invented by Marey in 1881, gives a scientific version of mobility and perception. It effectively demonstrates that photography gives us to see the invisible, what the eye and our brain can no longer discern or capture, but which photography succeeds in capturing. We can deduce from this that photography gives us to look at matter, invisible to our eyes, but really decipherable, graspable and intelligible which speaks to us of another truth or better still of a supplement of reality. Photography is read and translated, it is not a simple object offered to the gaze…

…Furthermore, the power of fiction is to let us understand its possible reality. Thus, the fictions that we create are not opposed to the reality that is given to us. These fictions pursue, prolong, underline and clarify things. Reality and fiction sometimes mix and why not? Under these conditions, new things become conceivable and worth considering… and it is indeed all these perimeters, outlines and “Contours of Reality”, in their different aspects, that the artists invited for this new exhibition consider.” 1

Catherine Rebois

1 Catherine Rebois, Extracts from the text of the catalog “Contours du réel” edition Topographie de l’art / Le livre d’art, Paris, February 2023.


Contours du Réel
Mathieu Bernard-Reymond – Michel Campeau – James Casebere – Gregory Crewdson – José Damasceno – Denis Darzacq – Alexandre Dufaye – Mickaël Marchand – Sarah Pickering – Catherine Rebois – Patrick Tosani – Bernard Voïta

Curator: Catherine Rebois


Contours du Réel
from February 4 to April 5, 2023
Topographie de l’art
15 rue de Thorigny
75003 Paris
01 40 29 44 28

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