"Playing with photographs"
by Rachel Rom, October 2016, Berlin
Photography as source of inspiration by itself for LeBoudoir2.0:
The failed encounter of reality and photography is actually the starting point of my interest in the media. I don’t like talking about my work. In fact, I almost never do. I feel like the more I say, the less there is. I tend to go further, I feel like an idea can loose its power the moment it is said or written. I am very superstitious like that. To me, there’s more poetry to an idea that is never revealed.
Photography can be morbid in a many ways. It freezes time and sells the contrary of life. And If you try capturing the present, you might end up with the empty trace of something that no longer exist. In that sense, photography only speaks about the loss of what it reveals.
So I play around with space-time and layering, changing the original purpose of photography, which is to capture and pretend to preserve life. I distance myself from the subject, hoping to reveal its trace in the process. I fragment, re-photograph, remove portions and use layering to deconstruct their original form hoping to create singular objects-in-process.
I « let go » my subjects instead of capturing them. The idea is to try taking the moment in which a person looses itself: the absence. It soon became clear to me that the further away I’d be from my subject, the better chance I’d have to really see them. The nature of my approach resides in my missed encounter with the subject, indispensable to achieve this void, inside of which it is revealed.
In fact, I invert the process of photography: I keep my images in constant evolution to defy the stillness of the media and preserve something real that tends towards dematerialization. The absence of form.
So, the way I see it, if art is alive, it escapes its author: it grows, adapts to its environment, fades out and eventually disappears, and what’s left of it, is only its trace, whatever form it may have. A lot like human being, in fact.
For a while, I was exhibiting my absent blurry portraits as such, but something bothered me with the idea of reproducing my photograph and sell them more than once, it occurred to me that if I saw them as original pieces, they would have to be transformed into growing objects. And I’d have to add time-space co-ordinates to each their titles.
That’s when I started to re-photograph them. I would print a portrait. Frame it. Nail it onto the wall and a couple of years later I would re-photograph it, frame the new portrait, hang it and so on and so forth..; The way I see it, as the image fades out and the object expands in layer, the trace of the original subject intensifies.
A few month later, I met Christoph Tannert in Paris Photo, talked to him about my approach and he invited me to exhibit at Künstlerhaus Bethanian.
I started reflecting some more on the echo of a photograph and I created four vectorial installations among which Remanence in its first layer form. I decided to re-photograph portraits of my mother when she was my age, in order to metaphorically meet her, then. (I had just become a mother) I used fading polaroids and « out framed » them.
The installation then travelled to Paris where it was inverted and turned into a wallpaper to create a « mise en abime » of the Berlin Show and the wall of that show was then cut out and travelled to Paris Photo Los Angeles where the polaroids were blown up and nailed onto the walls.
And here’s basically how I draw a line from one body of work to the next, building upon each work and allowing the passage of time to influence and change each piece.
Another exemple is my « invisible wall » series, which images are exhibited here on the floor. They are photographs of migrants taken by photojournalists around the world. I appropriated and re-shot them (with my phone) on the screen of my computer to speak about powerlessness.
I print them huge, stick them on the floor and re-shoot them again as they are slowly damaged, until they disappear under our feet. They are here for a short time, but eventually fade out like any emotion we feel.
I try to challenge photography insofar that I break away from the tangible. I create objects that force interrogation and keep them alive, I deconstruct their original form hoping to reveal my research in the process. A simple phone snapshot taken to document the creation of a bigger piece will be exhibited next to it and considered its equal in my show.
Art is a research process and I am hoping to confirm my idea that if the author remains distant, art creates itself more freely and find its own identity. It exists prior to the artist’s intervention and only achieves full realization in its unfinished state. In its questioning.
There is no author, no period nor answer. Like an idea that would forever remain an idea because it would lose all of its meaning if carried out.
In the mean time, I keep working on objects that tend towards the absence of form, because without an ending, they can never wear out and if they remains open, they can only renew themselves.
So… because the work escapes the author, it exists only in its evolution. Taking nourishment from time. Hence, the photographic act is reversed and It can last.