Photography to the Test of Abstraction
Posted on November 10 2020
For the fourth edition of the Normandy Impressionist Festival, the Fonds Régional d’Art Contemporain (Frac) Normandie Rouen, in conjunction with the Centre Photographique d’Île-de-France (CPIF) and the Micro Onde — Centre d’Art de l’Onde, is organising a programme of three joint exhibitions devoted to the question of abstraction in the field of contemporary photography. It is the first time that this significant and topical challenge in the world of photography has been the subject of a major exhibition in France.
Three interrelated exhibitions to be held simultaneously at the three venues will shed light on the manifold approaches used. These tie in with the development of the status of the image, the rise of new technologies, as well as with established trends now running through photography. This wide-ranging project provides a unique opportunity to investigate the possibility of abstract contemporary photography, and looks at four themes.
At the Frac Normandie Rouen, the first theme introduces an acknowledged propensity for an almost archaeological approach to photography, and its scientific components, right up to the advent of an iconography specific to analogue photography.
By contrast, the second theme brings together artists whose search for abstraction proceeds first and foremost through approaches that use sometimes complex technological processes. These techniques relate to an infinite variety of printing methods, such as creating high-performance computer programs, thereby enabling a new language to be developed, without any apparent point of reference in the material world.
The third theme highlights, in turn, the overtly formal strategies, altering the prism, to the same extent as sculpture and architecture, and provides activities covering surface and space.
This theme, initiated at the Frac, is developed primarily at the CPIF through the light spectrum governing the way the works are hung. Chromatic decomposition is the pretext for bringing together digital experiments and analogue manipulations, and for re-examining the relationship to reality.
Lastly, at Micro Onde, the fourth theme developed deals with a resolutely experimental and material approach to photography and takes root in the famous photograms of crystals and skies produced in the late 19th century by the Swedish playwright August Strindberg. It highlights both materialogical thinking and scientific and photographic experiments that initiate new relationships to the image and to science.
Relying on extensive loans of works from France and abroad, younger generation artists such as Anne-Camille Allueva, Pauline Beaudemont, Matan Mittwoch, Constance Nouvel, Sarah Ritter and Laure Tiberghien will be presented, together with essential leading figures of contemporary photography, including Stan Douglas, Paul Graham, Barbara Karsten, Zoe Leonard, Thomas Ruff and James Welling.
A bilingual work published by Hatje Cantz and written by specialists in the field will be useful aid for a greater understanding of a subject that is still only rarely discussed in France.