Valérie Belin (France 1964 - )
All Star Series, 2016
Archival Pigment Print
173 x 130 cm
Ed. 6 + 2AP
The works of Valérie Belin have been exhibited around the world (Centre Pompidou, Paris; MoMa, New York, Musée d’Orsay, Paris; Musée de l’Élysée, Lausanne, Ullens Center for Contemporary Art (UCCA), Beijing) and are held in numerous public and private collections. Winner of the Prix Pictet in 2015 (Disorder), she was made an officer of France’s Ordre des Arts et des Lettres in 2017. In July 2009 she was made a chevalier in France’s Ordre des Arts et des Lettres.
Initially influenced by various minimalist and conceptual tendencies, the French photographer Valérie Belin became interested in the photographic medium in its own right; this is at once the subject of her work and her way of reflecting and creating. Light, matter and the “body” of things and beings in general, as well as their transformations and representations, constitute the terrain of her artistic ideas.
Valérie Belin draws no distinction between the human and the inhuman, between the animate and the inanimate, between man and the object. Her objects (still lives of remarkable industrial artefacts, mass consumer items) take on the identity of being alive, whereas the humans populating the territory researched by Belin are often typed, or even cultural stereotyped, as if already unreal and reified (“made concrete”), by the photographic device - including the assumed artificiality and the waiving of what makes us human. There is “a continuum of presences and phenomena, caught by the photograph”.
In The Avenger the artist explores the world of comics, which she uses as a graphic, expressive material for setting up an “encounter” with figures that she has herself created in “depressive” style. The figures, who seem to live in a closed world, find light only through the fictive glow of comics: the spark of a gaze, reflections, the glint of a dagger, white smoke from explosives. The spiralling composition of the comics elements objectively translates the circular, obsessive character of the mental world in which these characters live. With these figures, the world of comics and its joyous dynamic transmute into a mental substance. Thus, the profusion of comic-book narrative elements (freefalling Superman, punches being landed, bubbles, block capitals, etc.) is condensed into a disorder or even a chaos that saturates the characters’ mental space.