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On The Surface (Palimpsest IV)
2023 - 2024
At the end of the 19th century, Eugène Atget embarked on a systematic project to photograph the old districts of Paris that were destined to disappear due to urban renewal, as well as the storefronts of small businesses doomed by the rise of department stores. Accumulated over nearly three decades, his images document not only the aesthetics of these spaces but also the social and cultural history of a society undergoing profound changes. Today, we witness a similar phenomenon with the gradual disappearance of downtown shops in small towns and medium-sized cities, giving way to large commercial areas on the outskirts. With the advent of digital simulation and printing techniques, it has now become common practice to conceal these vacant stores behind trompe-l’oeil creating the illusion of active shops, thereby reducing the sense of decline for the neighbouring population. These trompe-l’oeil are here the subject of this series, combining the surface of the storefront glass and the photographic sensitive surface to create a mise-en-abyme blurring the line between reality and representation, thus hiding away from sight the desert of the real.
This series is part of a larger body of work initiated in 2019, titled Palimpsests. This term refers to a parchment where the original writing has been erased to make way for a new text, with the initial text remaining however partly visible by transparency. Indeed, these projects take the form of contemporary rewritings of iconic works from the history of photography, translated into the new context of digital society. Initiating a dialogue with techniques and theories of the past, they offer a reflection about the concept of post-photography and question the evolution of the medium in the era of its alleged disappearance.
Eugene Atget, Shop windows :