Mois de la Photo à Paris 2012

Le réel enchanté / Enchanted reality

Commissaire : Stéphane Wargnier

Collectif Modds

Ryszard Horowitz - Galerie Basia Embiricos

Richard Mosse - Centre culturel irlandais

Peter Bialobrezeski - ENSA

Frédéric Nauczyciel - Musée de la chasse et de la Nature

Nicolai Howalt et Trine Sondergaard - Maison du Danemark

Alain-Gilles Bastide - Galerie Dufay-Bonnet

Thibault Brunet - Galerie Binôme

"Le réel enchanté" - Galerie Roi Doré

"Thanks to Luigi Ghirri & Italian emerging photography" - Hôtel de Sauroy

Sophie Elbaz - Musée d'art et d'histoire du Judaïsme

"Distances différentes" - Institut sudéois

Susanna Pozzoli

Art and nothing but art, we have art in order not to die of the truth.

Do we have to look reality in the face? The analogical nature of photography means that since the very beginning it has been concerned with how far it can distance itself from its documentary function. Recording the world as it is, from Atget to Ristelhueber, from Evans to Parr, draws lines and defines families within the history of photography, which is proud of its contingency, if not its triviality. Post-Enlightenment “modern ethics” supported the photographer in his obligation to record the unadorned, brutal, sometimes raw and cruel reality the subject inhabits, his life bereft of the meaning the beliefs of the old world were able to bring.

Contemporary photography, by blurring the frontiers between_artistic ambitions and descriptive rigour, has given a central role to “documentary utopianism”, a banner under which all sorts of approaches have marched, such as social, vernacular, ordinary, anonymous or neutral photography. The fact that photojournalism has entered galleries and museums has completed their transformation into places where people can go to keep abreast of the world's deep disenchantments.

And yet, in sharp contrast to the moral desert of mere testimonial,_an entire section of photographic production strives, as Lautréamont_put it, to “show everything as beautiful”. For professional reasons (the demands, for instance, of advertising or fashion) or strictly personal ones, “prettifiers” build up an aesthetic, playful, positive or simply likeable image of the world. “The idea of reality is overrated”, says Greger Ulf Nilson, introducing the exhibition on young Swedish photographers_he curated. Openly referencing art history, their aesthetic strives to transcend fashion and achieve a kind of anachronistic harmony. Déborah Turbeville's photographs combine mise en scène and mise en abyme, recomposing the past on vintage-looking prints. François Fontaine gives disturbingly sensuous form to the mental images that haunt our dreams, inherited from the cinema. Richard Mosse, in contrast, grapples with_the urgency of ultra-violent current events, the purpose of his unsettling images of warring rebels in eastern Congo being to keep the atrocity of reality at a distance.

Sometimes, a unique photographic style can transfigure the most arid, banal or clichéd subject: Pierre Porcher transforms Le Corbusier's architecture into painterly abstractions; Todd Hido reveals the strangeness of landscapes; Peter Bialobrzeski sublimates the artificiality of Asian cities. By circumventing mimesis, photography is also able to keep up appearances and show us a reality enriched with meaning and poetry. Some pictures are able to regale the eye with the tragedy that surrounds it and usher in a fresh, new way of seeing. Such pictures make us love life more than we love pictures.

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