Bringing together avant-garde, historic and contemporary artists to explore innovative image-based practices (installations and experiments with still and moving images), the Offscreen show offered us a second fine edition. Here, among the international galleries gathered at the Grand Garage Haussmann this year, are the works that caught our eye.
© Thomas Devaux
It was a strange encounter that we made in the third loop of the Grand Garage Haussmann: Orshi Drozdik, a Hungarian neo-conceptual feminist artist born in 1946 and based in New York since the early 80s. Having conceived her personal Mythology in the mid-70s by superimposing photos of dancers and her own body onto which images of Hungarian history are projected, she showed, with her Budapest gallery owner Gábor Einspach (of Einspach Fine Art & Photography Gallery), among other photographic and video documents, annotated photographs of a 1977 performance in Toronto entitled: I Try to Be Transparent. Lying naked on a Plexiglas plate suspended three metres from the ground, facing a mirror, she tried to become transparent so as to be visible in the history of art…this paradoxical process echoes the obliteration of the image in the 1965 film “Site” by Stan VanDerBeek, a pioneering multimedia artist in the field of experimental cinema and computer art who died in 1984. The Film Gallery (Paris) has divided the film into three screens, showing a man dressed in white (in this case, American artist Robert Morris) manipulating large white panels in a strange, wordless choreography, in an attempt to hide the image of Manet’s Olympia mimed by American performance artist Carolee Scheemann.
CUT-OUTS AND CANCELLATIONS
Another play on the appearance and obliteration of the image is the work from Shadows from the North and South series created in 2001 by Graciela Sacco, an Argentinian artist who died in 2017 and is represented by Rolf Art (Buenos Aires). Recycling an archival image from May ’68 showing a man throwing a paving stone in the midst of a political and societal crisis, the installation consists of projections of fragments of the printed image onto suspended plastic plates through which a light source passes. Decomposed and reduced to cast shadows, the image flickers and, at the same time, confronts us with the enigma of the repetition of historical events.
Twenty years on, Emmanuel Van der Auwera (represented by Harlan Levey Projects in Brussels) is also interested in the facts of history.
Having collected images of the seizure of Capitol 1 on the Net, he composed a Vidéosculpture that is as seductive as it is destabilising. Fragmented into thirty screens, partially lacerated to remove the polarising filters, the torn image disappears and appears between the knife-drawn strips. A flickering, oscillating image between abstraction and figuration, which says a great deal about our blinded, over-supplemented gaze, which now only looks superficially… “The screens imprison the gaze […], and the image is no longer visible. Screens imprison the gaze […] I want the viewer to become aware of his or her central role as viewer, to reveal by veiling [because] the veiled image arouses the desire to see”, explains the Brussels-based artist, born in 1982, who, in his “Memento” series, pushes further the erasure and distortion of the image. Playing on these distortions by overexposing a photosensitive emulsion-coated offset plate to “burn” the image, he makes it appear in a kind of ghostly state.
Thomas Devaux (1980), represented by La Patinoire Royale de Bruxelles, performs a veritable transmutation of the image. On the borderline between photography and painting, his elegant Totems show us golden, bluish or iridescent shimmers embedding enlarged and irradiated images of consumer objects. Made by pigment printing on dichroic glass – a precious glass with fascinating reflections 2 – the transmutation is all the more disturbing in that, in addition to burying the image, the shimmer traps the viewer in his or her own image… Mixed with the barely visible fragments of the supermarket products photographed, the latter makes us the willing double victims of consumerism and voyeurism. “My work is about desire, the energies we feel when we desire an object,” explains the plastic photographer who, playing on the mystical aura emanating from the shimmering surfaces of his glass and gold-leafed frames, confronts us with the lure of consumerism, “Cet obscur objet du désir” 3….
The storming of the US Capitol by Donald Trump supporters contesting the results of the presidential election in Washington, January 6, 2021.
Dichroic glass is coated with a thin layer of quartz and metal oxides.
Title borrowed by the artist from Luis Buñuel to present his trilogy Shoppers-Rayons-
Einspach Fine Art (Budapest) : einspach.com
The Film Gallery (Paris) : film-gallery.org
Rolf Art (Buenos Aires) : rolfart.com.ar
Harlan Levey Projects (Bruxelles) : hl-projects.com
La Patinoire Royale (Bruxelles) : prvbgallery.com