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Torn, crumpled, sanded, lacerated, stitched images… Fragments, relics, vestiges…

Intertwining the times of making the image, from its destruction to its metamorphosis, and merging the background (the subject) and the form in a process of surprising metonymic contamination (the content becoming a container), Dune Varela’s photographs create a perceptive disorder. 

© Dune Varela

Details of ancient statues printed on marble, ancient photographs of temples printed on broken stones or mounted on aluminum plates and riddled with bullets … We do not know in these images of ruins in ruins, erased, perforated, torn, altered by the gesture of the visual artist, after having been by time, if their stigmata are of the past or the present, if they are in the image or on the image …   

© Dune Varela

Apprehending the image itself as a vestige, as a ruin, the photographer seems to want to appropriate, to mimic, the process of time imprinting – since the dawn of time – on the stone its scars, from geological “sculptures” to ancient monuments subjected to erosion and destruction.

 “Photographs of vestiges, vestiges of photography,”1 the images are based on a contamination of the photographed object (temples, ancient statues, and other ruins) to the medium, to the matrix of the work, like an incorporation of the represented object to the image, to its representation. A mimicry which, far from purely aesthetic research, can be crying out of truth. Thus, the images of the Temple of Bêl in Palmyra, before its destruction by the “Islamic State,” printed on broken stones… Or the bars of buildings printed on concrete before being sanded in places… Or a face replaced by a black halo on a boat of refugees …

© Dune Varela


A mise en abyme of destruction but also of time, the fragments of this archeological imagery, like artifacts, false vestiges of an imaginary lapidary museum, are decoys. Printed on marble or ceramic, the photographs become sculptures, they are stone, they are plaster, they become matter… To give back a materiality to the image is indeed the main stake of this work, which is situated halfway between archaeology and photography (two inventions of the 19th century), and sculpture. By printing fragments of screenshots on pieces of ceramic or old prints altered on glass plates, Dune Varela exhumes images that she then manages to superimpose as many archaeological layers to lose us in the strata of time.

Lacerated seas and drifting icebergs sewn back together, fires, explosions and other scenes of cataclysm printed on linen weave, with great poetry, another narrative of time: that of repair. The stitched images reflect all of our fragilities. 

© Dune Varela

1 Michel Poivert, Counterculture in photography, Textuel

Finalist in the Schneider Foundation’s Contemporary Talents competition