Tatouage, manipulated photos



To tattoo is to apply signs on the skin (permanent or not).

The skin is one of the most important cults of our times, hence a contradiction between the glorification of the skin on the one hand and its mutilation on the other. In the end the two extremes meet. Look at other cultures where tatouages are symbols of rites or stages of life.

The photographical surface

The photographical surface is as sacred as the human skin is. Many photographers consider it a sacrilege to touch the surface of a photograph. Think of the tradition of the white cotton gloves.

However, the photographical surface has always been “desecrated”. From the early days of photography onwards, in pictorialism, in the photo montages of the Surrealists and in modern times there have always been photographers experimenting with the surface of the photograph.

These experiments consisted of simply indicating the cadrage, writing on a photograph, painting and cutting.

It took until the Interbellum before the several trends in art began to discover and appreciate applied photography. Especially the surrealists and the Dadaists have used the applied photography as a source of inspiration. Their conceptualization was inspired by industrial photography, family photos, press photography and scientific images.

Involuntary photographs

I refer to Brassaï's "Sculpture involontaire", 1933, which is a series of photographs of simple everyday objects which become mythical and surrealist sculptures simply through the way they have been photographed. There is a link with Marcel Duchamp here.

In the world of applied photography (medical, legal, scientific and press) there are numerous examples of involuntary surrealist photographs. Many of these applications have been a source of inspiration for the surrealists.

Surrealism and Photography

Surrealism is not dead yet. It lives on in the work of many artists. Consciously and very explicitely or unconsciously and undeliberately.
This latter group of artists is closest to the true tradition of Surrealism. They're not always obvious expressions of Surrealism but their motives are very close to the ones of the original Surrealists. However, no photographer has ever been member of the Surrealist movement.

According to this line of reasoning we have brought together three contemporary photographers each with their own approach and imagery.

Very diverse but then again surprisingly kindred.

Discover this exhibition ...

Xavier Debeerst

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