Ensuing Pictures : The Peer-to-Peer Exhibition
By Emmy Lee, text for Capture Photo Festival catalogue, Vancouver, 10.2013
Like Mark Lewis, his nominee Marion Tampon-Lajarriette moves deftly between photography and film, aware of and evoking the histories of both. Lewis first discovered the younger artist’s work in Toulouse in 2008, when they were exhibiting together in the Printemps de Septembre festival. Tampon-Lajarriette is the only artist in Ensuing Pictures exhibition based in Europe, where her exhibition history is concentrated.
Tampon-Lajarriette’s work creates a tension between the real and the imagined. Selections from her evocative Metamorphic Rocks series (2013), which are included in Ensuing Pictures, were created while on a recent residency in New York. Three of these works are black-and-white photographs that conjure planetary landscapes, their textured surfaces suggesting a rough, worn terrain; a fourth work is rendered in muted earth tones and also seems otherworldly but has the added effect of a glowing sunset on the horizon. These images were shot by the artist in the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Greek and Roman antiquity rooms where she translated the surfaces of ancient relics into topography by playing with framing, focusing in tightly on the slope of a figure’s head and the mass of curls depicted, or a worn eye socket that resembles the site of a crater’s impact. Shooting across one sculpture’s surface and into a museum spotlight created the effect of a sunset for her picture Igneous Rocks (Venus Genetrix) (2013). No one would describe these images as documentary, although the artist has, in effect, simply photographed artefacts and though these faces and bodies are made to recall landscapes, they are, in fact, representations of the human form. Her use of proximity and cropping obscures as much information as it magnifies, giving a detailed but biased representation of her subjects. The distorted reality of these works is a testament to the powerful ability of the artist to conceal and reveal. Tampon-Lajarriette further heightens the surreal, astronomic quality of some of this imagery by applying a stereoscopic effect; the slight blurring and red-green visual treatment associated with three-dimensional vision and science-fiction films such as It Came From Outer Space. With these images, Tampon-Lajarriette equates the mysterious nature of these antiquities to the unknowable nature of the universe itself.
The distinction between taking a photograph and making a picture is an important one. While each of the emerging artists in this exhibition starts with a camera in hand, where they end up is radically different: (…) Marion Tampon-Lajarriette demonstrates that under her lens, earthly objects can become otherworldly. What unites these emerging artists is their desire to create pictures‒works that realize a particular point of view‒rather than mere photographs.