presented by CHRISTIAN MILOVANOFF
Born in 1948 in Nîmes. Lives and works in France.
Photographer and lecturer at the National School of Photography in Arles since 1983.
ON THE LOOKOUT AND SEEING THINGS CLEARLY.
Close examination of Olivier Metzger’s photographs renders our perception broader, richer and sharper. The world that emerges from them is familiar but at the same time singular, strange. Despite their apparent simplicity, they convey an impression which mingles déjà-vu with something as yet unseen, blending documentary with fiction or making play with both so that they become accomplices. An ordinary, often isolated figure; a normally empty or deserted place, sometimes harshly lit; an object used in unfamiliar ways or simply, hieratically there; all of these things photographed in turn or together—such is or might be the recurring protocol of Metzger’s photographs. Or, put differently: an ambiguous dramaturgy indicative of a watchful, even canny eye focused on the contemporary context. As far removed from the verbose, attentiongetting criticism of our current techno-liberal world as from any form of nostalgia—or its opposite, blind worship of the present—Olivier Metzger is simply there on the lookout, insistently recording everyday moments that the acuity of his eye and the optical precision and graphic quality of the photographic print render unbelievable and strange, as if he were patiently waiting to shape moments when everything commonplace becomes disturbing because too familiar, and faraway because too close. Themes emerge, forms come together in perfect clarity: a shark whose threat, it seems to us, could just as easily come from its plastic carapace or its ridiculous posture on a trailer; a driver waiting in a car at night; an orange reflector framed to emphasise its pointlessness; a striking image within an image of a man surveying video surveillance screens; a teenager on the edge of a parapet surrounded by a tidy collection of empty bottles; a white Citroën DS 19 lost in the night.
Through nocturnal tracking shots whose attention fluctuates, Nightshot delivers several unlinked shots, fixed in the darkness like photograms from the print of a feature-length movie. In a casting of roles that are captured in the often subdued reality of suburban wanderings, bodies and settings are confronted with an incongruity that arises in often unexpected ways. These apparitions—frictions between reality and its doubles—initiate in their contexts a narrative that the viewer is free to extend: scenes left hanging, fragmentary compositions, ambiguous dramas
Through the grain, one senses a perspective pitched somewhere between modernity and obsolescence: in-between spaces and the discreet or ostensible presence of nature. These mute representations, part-fiction and part-reality, could well tell us something about the world in flux around us, and to which they subscribe.
Olivier Metzger is represented by Bertrand Grimont Gallery, Paris.
All photogrpahs come from Nightshot series.
Prints by PICTO Méditerrannée.