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Geert GOIRIS

La Maison Européenne de la Photographie 4 janvier - 16 février 2014


Tout ce que je photographie est réel, même lorsque cela paraît impossible.

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Geert GOIRIS II PrĂŠsentaion du photographe II Portfolio

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PRÉSENTATION DU PHOTOGRAPHE

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BIOGRAPHIE Geert Goiris est né en 1971 à Bornem en Belgique. Il vit et travaille à Anvers. Son travail est présent dans les collections suivantes : Seattle Art Museum, Seattle; Hamburger Kunsthalle, Hambourg; Musée de la photographie, Anvers; Centro de Arte Caja de Burgos, Espagne; Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris; Centre National des Arts Plastiques, Paris; Direction des Affaires culturelles de la Ville de Paris. Expositions : DARKCLOUD, Art : Concept, Paris; Whiteout and other stories, Hamburger Kunsthalle, Hambourg; Le Silence. Une fiction, Villa Paloma, Nouveau Musée National de Monaco (curator: Simone Menegoi); Fresh Hell, Carte Blanche à Adam McEwen, Palais de Tokyo, Paris. Qu’il s’agisse de paysages architecturaux ou minéraux, d’endroits clos ou de portraits sensibles, les images de Geert Goiris insistent sur l’étrangeté d’un instant et sur la fragilité de nos pensées. Ainsi, l’observation d’une image devient de plus en plus intense quand on y aperçoit quelque chose d’extraordinaire, d’inattendu. Les photographies de Geert Goiris structurent ce qu’il appelle le “réalisme traumatique” qu’il développe dans son travail, créant un monde entre rêve et réalité, un environnement mystérieux voire mystique aux accents dramatiques qui nous incite à nous pencher de plus près sur une réalité inhabituelle, sur l’étrangeté potentielle de telle ou telle chose qui sortie de son contexte nous déstabilise.

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INTERVIEW The particular phrase imagine there’s no countries seemed very fitting as a title because this simple sentence has great implications, and calls for imagination. " Imagine there’s no countries " Eran Guterman: You set off on iconographic expeditions and research missions, letting viewers take part in extreme experiences to imagine the solitude that exists in each of us. The viewer is transported from a “passive” state to a state of a solitary “active explorer.” How do you see solitude, yours and the viewer’s ? Geert Goiris: The reason why I often choose extreme places and experiences to photograph is not because I want to present myself as a daredevil who goes to all these amazing places, but rather to show wilderness: the world without us, without humanity, just the surface of the land itself, as terrain unfit to sustain human beings. Being in these hostile surroundings shows how much is at stake. In fact, I find frontier territory revealing. The values and rules of organisation we tend to live by, the essence of society and survival is very visible in these places. There is 10

obviously an ecological position behind this, but I hope it is not limited to that alone. So the explorer I would like to be is a wanderer who circles around our society and tries to look at it from the periphery, from a slightly oblique angle. An outsider by choice, mapping the outskirts of the known world. I enjoy isolated places. I find the solitude and tranquility inspiring and better for concentration. The viewer walking into an exhibition is also in a state of alertness, not unlike the frame of mind I try to get into when I am photographing. So essentially we both are in a receptive mode, solitary but permeable. Looking at photographs taken during an expedition is never going to become the same as taking part in this expedition. As Hamish Fulton said: “an object cannot compete with a experience”. Moreover, what we call “experience” is fundamentally undividable, despite the so-called shared experiences, we are


all trapped inside our own bodies. As an alternative I try to present an image with a personal position embedded in it, one that concentrates more on a particular way of seeing. I like to stimulate the viewer to enter into different ‘force-fields’. Some images draw you in, others resist, but these last ones tend to be more rewarding afterwards.

" Mes images se réfèrent à des fictions familières. Simultanément, elles captent des lieux authentiques. " Jean-Louis Trocherie: A good part of the images you are producing seem to come from a similar disenchantment. What surfaces there over and over are extraterritorial, limitless, original landscapes: ocean, desert, ice floe, mountain. Often these landscapes,

characterized by immensity and boundlessness, are the theater of unstable, threatening atmospheric phenomena, mists… Before the power of these different contexts you draw up an inventory of situations that bear the stamp of either a human or animal presence. It is a frozen presence, however, mute, silent, abandoned, like a liner that has run aground on ice. Through this contrast is there a political or ecological dimension to your concerns?

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Geert Goiris: The visual vocabulary I looked at afterwards, the memory of use is simple and elementary: oceans, whatever is portrayed starts to fade deserts, seascapes, mountains... Some and is replaced by the memory of the of the main motives of the pictures que photograph itself. I often venture out to surface, but always in a deceptively specific places precisely because I want simple way : the mountain or hill is to photograph it, so I am quite concious positioned deadpan in the middle of the about this, and have ambivalent feelings composition. Almost like a child would about it. photograph a mountain: straight in the From some locations, I still have clear middle, without too much distubing recollections, at others however, I was background noise. By using this ridgid so occupied with making the image, framing over and over again, a kind abstracting the space while I was at of catalogue arises, a collection of it, that my memory of it didn’t become anomalies in the landscape. particulary strong. The distance I put between myself and some of the subjects could be almost Regularly using very long exposures, I extraterrestial: like a visitor from out of sometimes stand for an hour or longer space, seeing the next to the camera, world for the first When everything time, would glance seems alien and " j’essaie d’installer un at things. new, there is no doute dans la notion du hierarchy anymore. When everything seems alien and Imagine crawling paysage sublime en y new, there is no of a bunker after apposant une anomalie. out hierarchy anymore. months of hiding Souvent il s’agit d’une Imagine crawling and discovering a out of a bunker after whole new world allusion à quelque months of hiding around you, or to catastrophe, calamité and discovering a wake up from a ou désastre " whole new world within science, the around you, or to fact that something wake up from a is being observed, long coma. These are narrative devices alters the observed, and I see no reason that have been used often in literature, why photographing a particular setting and they have great visual potential as wouldn’t change the constellation itself. well. Céline Poulin: What interests you in those Mathieu Gillot: I’d like to know if Geert very odd moments of our reality that you Goiris has a precise memory of the places photograph, moments that one could he’s photographed and the shots his associate with the “uncanny” that Freud made of them, or if the photographic spoke of, where the border between the image comes to replace the recollection, real and the unreal disappears? becoming the principal element of memory. Geert Goiris: I have used the term “traumatic realism” before: it refers to a Geert Goiris: W.G. Sebald pointed out that mental state indicating a breaking point, a photograph rapidly pushes the memory where fact and fiction fuse in a sort of of an event or place into the background. micro- mystery, where the familiar takes As soon as a photograph is made and on an unfamiliar presence. 12


My images are not a documentary: they do not claim to show things as they are, but more as they seem, or as they might be. I would like to invite viewers to reflect on the idea of seeing something (or someone) for the first (or last) time. And use the camera to record this unique encounter. One of the exercises I ask my students is to imagine that they are going on a long journey: so far and irreversible that it is possible they may not ever return from it. Which images will they take along? What kind of visual inventory will they pack before they leave? On top of that, they also have to think what they want to communicate (to new people they might meet) about the place and people they left behind. So the whole concept of seeing something ‘fresh’ and unbiased is something I find very valuable in a pedagogical framework. Of course it is an illusion to create a ‘naive’ school of photography: nobody can escape the bombardment of images and all the conventions and unspoken rules of image-making. But according to me there is still a largely uncovered potential to look at familiar things in an unprecedented way, which is as close as I can come to the interpretation

PUBLIC COLLECTIONS

CONTACT

Centre National des Arts Plastiques (FR) Fonds National d’Art Contemporain (FR) Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris (FR) Centro de Arte Contemporaneo de Burgos (ES) La Salle Bank Photography Collection (USA) ING, Brussels (BE) Fotomuseum, Antwerp (BE) University Hospital, Jette (BE) Williams College Museum of Art (USA) Flemish Parliament, Brussels (BE) Seattle Art Museum (USA) FRAC Languedoc-Roussillon, Montpellier (FR) Province of Antwerp (BE) Queensland Art Gallery, South Brisbane (AU)

contact@geertgoiris.info Galerie Art : Concept 13 rue des Arquesbusiers 75003 Paris France T +33 1 53 60 90 30 www.galerieconcept.com Galerie Catherine Bastide Rue Vandenbranden 1 1000 Brussels Belgium T +32 2 646 29 71

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PORTFOLIO

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GEERT GOIRIS Un voyage optico-irréaliste, timbré d’une voix discrète et faussement paranormale, le travail de Geert Goiris pourra vous émouvoir et vous transporter dans le hors champ de votre perception.   Dans la solitude ou l’absence d’élements figuratifs suffisants pour la création d’un récit, c’est votre regard qui va alors s’immiscer en prenant part au dialogue auquel les photographies invitent. Les lieux étant avant tout des histoires qui ne demandent qu’à votre interprétation mentale de s’y introduire pour y dénicher les clés d’une autre réalité.

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GEERT GOIRIS «Par mon travail j’essaie d’avoir une emprise sur ce que l’on pourrait au mieux décrire comme réalisme traumatique, avec tout ce que ce mot comporte en termes de rattachement au domaine médico-chirurgical : une cassure qui ne serait pas la fêlure psychologique qui pousse quelqu’un à se confronter à une histoire passée non résolue, mais bien le coup d’œil furtif et transitoire sur une autre réalité.»


Geert Goiris by Clément Bachelard