presented by MICHEL NURIDSANY
Born in 1938. Lives and works in France.
Journalist, artistic director of the Rencontres d’Arles in 1995.
Photography does not interest me, any more than tubes of paint, terra cotta,or the marble used for statues. What grabs me, pleases me, amuses me, surprises me, fascinates me, is art. Whether it springs from and develops through photography or painting, destroying them or adding to them in the process, means nothing to me. When I was director of the Rencontres d’Arles in 1995, I got rid of photoreportage, which is just journalism; instead I invited artists who make use of photography and introduced the Rencontres to video. The festival was sealed off: it needed some fresh air. That was thirteen years ago. The artists using photography who interest me nowadays are mainly those who studied under the Bechers in Germany and, most of all, Thomas Demand. I’m also fascinated by what is happening in China and I’ve been making visits since 1996. Dong Yonglong, who is 22 and still a student at the Beijing School of Arts, seems to me really worthy of our attention. However, I decided to show Adrien Missika, for his unsettling effect, for the kind of uncertainty principle he creates with landscapes that could be either fabrications or unedited snapshots—you can’t tell at first glance or even later, once you’ve decided on or discovered the facts. Goethe said, ‘Everyone can see the subject, but meaning only appears to those who are committed; whereas form is a mystery to almost everyone’. This profound notion seems to be at the core of this young French artist’s approach. I met him in Bourges and I can say, after a long conversation with him, that I really like the poison he has inside him.
The photographic installation Space Between (2007–2009) comprises diverse images: some taken from documentaries or archives, others made from scratch, and even some downloaded or rephotographed. There are photographs of a meteorite made from Sagex, fake craters on Mars, a contre-jour against a vinyl tarpaulin which produces the illusion of a sun rising over a peaceful sea. This series confronts our desire for knowledge with views of an artificial or real world. The images offer practically no spatio-temporal reference points. The story could be happening here or on another planet, now or in the distant future. Here and there, a few human traces are shown (a spiralling road, a concrete circle) but remain too enigmatic for us to situate them in time or space.
The project is hung as a set of photographs which are of different sizes but printed and framed in the same way. The hanging confuses the viewer by adding some real shots among the staged ones. In this fiction-in-images, no hierarchy is established among the materials found, made or shot on-site. The images are thus linked like a comic strip. As its name indicates, the show explores the space between images and objects (their relationship to the way they are hung and to the exhibition space) and the space between the images themselves. All of these photographs are thus merged along the same vertical plane, combined into one story.
Adrien Missika’s work—investigations of archetypes, the world as dystopia and graphic representation—’derealises’ reality and then imitates it artificially in the studio. It is also a way to encourage discussion of photography as a medium and its ability to show the truth.
Adrien Missika is represented by Blancpain Art Contemporain Gallery, Genevia.