- Tue 22/02/05 - Sun 01/05/05
- MAMCO| Rue des Vieux-Grenadiers 10, CH-1205 Genève
- Curated by :
- Rainer Michael Mason
Sophie Ristelhueber (born 1949) has, in her own words “been connected for some twenty years to places touched by major upheavals (from different causes), such as a civil war (Beyrouth, Photographies, 1984), an earthquake (Arménie, 1989), the first Gulf War (Fait, 1992), conflict in the Balkans (Every one, 1994 and La Campagne, 1997), and the important symbolic frontiers of Central Asia, before the events of September 11 brought them to the world's attention (L'air est à tout le monde, II, III, IV, 2000, 2001, 2002), then Mesapotamia, from Babylon to the most recent crises (Dead Set, 2000 and Irak, 2001).”
In a series of fifty-four photographs and a small artist's book where they are reproduced under the sober title WB, from the initials used in the region to signifiy the West Bank, the artist states “you can find, in a very concentrated form, all the obsessions of my previous work: traces, scars, destruction of the human presence, or constructions of all sorts of obstacles to separate one human being from another.”
The images that Sophie Ristelheuber brought back from the West Bank on three separate visits (November 2003 and February and March 2004) are also those of her interior landscape. She has chosen to accompany them with this simple text, printed on the back cover, which includes a freely translated quotation from De Rerum Natura of Lucretius: “What am I doing, flattened on the roof of this car? Perhaps I tell myself ‘it is sweet to see, from the safe and distant shore, others in distress amidst billows and in raging gales; not drawing delight from another’s misfortune, but rejoicing over being spared such desperation’? Doubtless, as an artist, I am at war, too.”
These images show a countryside where the roads between villages and cities have been cut off. Cut off, in the simplest possible way, by little trenches dug by a mechanical shovel, or obstructed by piles of rock or concrete blocks. On either side of these obstacles the roads are empty and amazingly present, petrified and purposeless. These roads have been deprived of their destinations: they no longer lead anywhere, anymore.
The art of Sophie Ristelhueber is to speak of a distant land – which is all of ours. Her large photographs of the landscape of separation could be called No(w)here, from the title of Markus Raetz, because it can signify simultaneously both “nowhere” and “now, here.” The French artist, with her ever-present strength, knows exactly when to remove herself from the scene and allow the stones and the empty fields to speak for her, “being the receptacles of (her) revelation” as Hofmannsthal says in La Lettre de Lord Chandos (1902).
For the first time, in 1995, the Cabinet des estampes exhibited the work of Sophie Ristelhueber under the title Les Barricades Mystérieuses II. [rmm]