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Eric Emo: Playing on the other side    Dec 12, 2011 - Jan 14, 2012


Playing on the other side
12.12.2011 - 14.1.2012

RODIN/BOURDELLE/EMO

The exhibition will be opened by H.E. Ambassador of the French Republic, Ms. Nicole Michelangeli

Opening of the exhibition: 12.12.2011 at 19h
12.12.2011 at 18h

the lecture RODIN AND PHOTOGRAPHY

will be given by Hélène PINET, Head of the Service for Archival and Research, scientific advisor responsible for photography collections in Museum Rodin, Paris.

“Quite a number of years have passed since I first began learning my profession in the photo laboratories of the department of photography and black-and-white image development. During my time spent in the dark room, I discovered the world of images from its dark side. My study and experiences with photography are primarily connected to my acquaintance with Jacqueline Guillot, photographer for the French monthly fine arts publication Connaissance des Arts, whose assistant I was honoured to be for many years. Thus, I was able to become familiar with the nature of work in museums, galleries, houses, abodes and castles alike. I learned how to set up proper lighting, how to frame the shot and how to reveal just enough content for the photograph to complement a published text.

Only having acquired this experience did I venture into professional waters as a freelance photographer. Chance meetings during the outset of my career led me to take numerous portraits of actors, artists and musicians. This allowed me to cooperate with the musical group Les Arts Florissants led by William Christie, with the choir Groupe vocal de France and with theatre groups In Extremis and TJP in Strasbourg. During that time I also ran several secondary-school workshops (in the secondary schools Finosello in Ajaccio and Rimbaud in Douai), preschool workshops, and educational seminars in the French Cultural Centre in Jakarta intended for professional photographers and students of photography – where our fifteen days of intensive work culminated in an exhibition of photographs made in situ.

The task I was entrusted by Museum Rodin introduced me to an unconventional observation of bronze sculptures. I was instructed to photograph details of all the inscriptions on the sculptures and their circumference. As I rotated the works of art, I discovered their hidden facets. When one, for example, observes a sculpture that represents a visage, one never thinks of looking at its back side. We simply look at what we are expected to see, the familiar. But I was enticed by the other, obscure side. Step by step, I recorded the memories of the sculptures’ interior. In those spaces, which exist as a negative of the sculpture, the essence of the matter and the creation we are witnessing may be found, the intimacy of the sculpture. Different faces altogether arise from the protrusions and impressions in the bronze. Radiography allows us to witness the inside of our bodies, MRI the inside of our organs. The same holds true for the plaster moulds used to cast bronze. Insight into them offers exploration, observation, understanding of what remains hidden to the casual glance, what lies beyond the outer image. It has to do with the observing, photographing and re-interpreting of their reality. These are no longer functional objects but unique shapes that tell a different story. For the photographs that present the works of Rodin, I used black-and-white with a grey colour scale, which enabled me to establish a certain distance, a different view, a metaphor of reality. Soon after, I discovered the works of Bourdelle. I was aware of the relation between these two artists, and so I wished to also treat the latter’s sculptures and plaster moulds as well: the theme was thus similar, although I this time used colours and worked in a different time frame. I took the photos of Rodin’s sculptures during the limited time planned in the contract, while the Bourdelle Museum afforded me the luxury of an abundance of time. The violence expressed by the colours in these photographs speaks of the chemistry of bronze, of the creative process, and reveals a rich world that rivals the smithy of the god Vulcan himself. The shapes formed by the plaster are abstract and may practically be seen as a contemporary sculpture in itself. The casts are made independent, and the interior of the moulds now remains barren. They exist only through their plastic reality.

For the past three years, I have been working as a photographer for the agency “La Parisienne de Photographie” and spending time in the museums of the city municipality of Paris, where I photograph art collections and materials for the preparation of catalogues. I explore the diversity of worlds: Musée d’Art Moderne (Museum of modern art), Petit Palais, Cognacq-Jay, Carnavalet, etc.”

Eric EMO

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