Série Islande #11
LE DEHORS ABSOLU
Exhibition from 21st September to 3rd November 2007
Opening Thursday 20th September from 6 pm to 9 pm
Les filles du calvaire Gallery is pleased to present the solo exhibition of the French artist photographer Thibaut Cuisset dedicated to the double series from Iceland and Namibia desert: Le Dehors Absolu, two areas non modeled by the humankind.
[…] Up to now, then, Thibaut Cuisset was a photographer of landscapes. Yes, sometimes there were openings to something beyond, as at the end of the Paysages d’Italieseries (1993), where views of Calabria or Sicily suddenly revealed stretches of wilderness, rather like the final sequences of Pasolini’sTeorema, where we see the father staggering towards the ashes of Etna. But those views were in the end no more than visions of the frontiers and delimitation of the actual landscape – that in relation to which landscape can exist.
However with the double series presented here, showing the Icelandic coastal area (2000) and the Namib Desert (2004), we seem to be
completely in another country, out of the landscape. We could almost say, pushing the language a bit (but this would be more appropriate), that these are landescapephotographs. There are virtually no markers here; we seem to have entered an unknown exteriority, without the slightest sign of a frontier or trace of limitation. We may just make out a few electricity poles or a track in the desert that must enable transport or travel to some elsewhere, but this elsewhere is not in evidence and indeed we have no sense of where it
Thus there is nothing gratuitous in Cuisset’s title for this double series:Le dehors absolu.Absolute exteriority. The expression, of course, comes from Pessoa. Jean-Christophe Bailly used it in relation to Cuisset’s series of photographs of the Loire in a text that he entitled “La Loire deThibaut Cuisset” (2001). Pessoa uses these words inThe Book of Disquietto refer to the overwhelming emotion felt by the narrator when, leaving his home one day, hesees, as if for the first time, the sight of the city running down to the river (this happened, of course, in Lisbon) and experiences genuine ecstasy: pure exteriorisation, a movement out of the self.
But this emotion is more than inward, it is, to use Augustine’s words,interior intimo meo, more inward than my inner self, in that impossible place that Lacan calledextimité(extimacy), which prohibits any kind of return to the self, the place where, no doubt, the pure space of the outside is opened, in its very ab-soluteness – its undivided liberation, its detachment, its expanse and its extension that is always anterior, and as such cannot be appropriated or mastered.
« Psyche is expanse. Doesn’t know a thing », says a totally enigmatic posthumous note by Freud.
Sill, that is perhaps also what is at issue here.
For what happens when Cuisset tries a change of scene (dépaysement), as a go atlandescape (dépaysagement)? Already, when he was photographing landscapes, he was always careful to avoid any suggestion of the sentimental or picturesque – the vaguely “Romantic” silliness of the landscape as “mood painting”, as projection or reflection.
That indeed is precisely why Jean-Christophe Bailly invoked the category of “absolute exteriority”. Cuisset’s manner, which is so immediately recognisable, his eminently singular art, consisted in responding as rigorously and plainly as possible to what was seen by the lens’s view(finder); in other words, in objectifying the view that was offered, in immobilising and fixing, in a suspended moment, the landscape, thereby wresting it from any determination other than its pure and simple being-there. Hence, also, the strangeness and fascination of these images, which are like what in cinema are called still shots, but isolated from the moving continuum and from the life that are the sole conditions for constituting their fixity.
An immobile cinematographer is, by definition, an impossibility. It is an absurdity.
Further – but this is obvious –, however still they may be, these cinema shots can never fix what they record, cannot fix, for example – and since we are talking about landscape – the grass bending in the wind and the quivering leaves, the clouds moving across the sky, fleeting shadows on the ground. Unless, that is, a real photograph is inserted. It sometimes happens. But a cinema without what Deleuze called “the movement-image” is a pure impossibility.
Now, perhaps it is this same impossibility that the test oflandescapeconfronts, and that makes them, in relation to photography itself, a limit experience.
Extract from the text of Philippe Lacoue – Labarthe,
Thibaut Cuisset, Le Dehors Absolu, Filigranes Editions, 2005