Edition 2019




Here comes photography. Before the first appearance of a technological image came the emergence of its idea: its conception. By exploring the period of its invention, Hanako Murakami offers a true epistemology of photography.

At its core, the exhibition evokes the first hundred and thirty-three experiments known to be by Niépce, present in their storage boxes and laid on a transport crate. Rather than presenting a didactic body of knowledge – which is now available thanks to art history – Hanako Murakami intends to give a tangible dimension to this absence of any material proofs of the medium’s origins.

The inventories produced by the artist take on a systematic and rational appearance, using both obsolete techniques and modern technology, thus transcending their material aspect. The sound of the turning pages of the original 1839 book, through which Daguerre unveiled his invention and its process, is associated with a list printed in lead type, which lists the nomenclature of all the names representing what was not yet called “photography”, just after its birth.

An electron microscope examination of a daguerreotype reveals the first contact between a sensitive plate and light. By sweeping the object, the electron beam alters it irreversibly. According to the ancient Greeks, this melting point comes from both a chemical and metaphorical burning.
One gaze literally burns the “Other”, that which is represented.

With Conception, Hanako Murakami brings up to date the mythical potential of the beginnings of photography. Each element in the show helps to offer a definition as a visual meeting place, on a surface, with the world. By combining a scopic journey into the depths of the matter’s physical truth with a poetic evocation of its very essence, the artist creates a mental image in our mind – an image that all photographs contain in their latency.
Pascal Beausse

Exhibition curator: Pascal Beausse.

  • Institutional partners

    • République Française
    • Région Provence Alpes Côté d'Azur
    • Département des Bouches du Rhône
    • Arles
    • Le Centre des monuments nationaux est heureux de soutenir les Rencontres de la Photographie d’Arles en accueillant des expositions dans l’abbaye de Montmajour
  • Main partners

    • Fondation LUMA
    • BMW
    • SNCF
    • Kering
  • Media partners

    • Arte
    • Lci
    • Konbini
    • Le Point
    • Madame Figaro
    • France Culture