Matthieu Gafsou lives and works in Lausanne, Switzerland. After university education and recieved a Master’s degree in History and Film Aesthetics, Philosophy and Literature, he studied photography at the School of Applied Arts in Vevey between 2006-2008. Today we take a look at his photographic survey of the city Chaux-de-Fonds.
About the Indefinite
Photography always implies a relationship between a body – the man with a camera – and the world. Even today, photographic gear remains heavy and cumbersome, an impediment. Landscapes, too, are related to the body: we are wandering somewhere about the world when suddenly, without any perceivable signal, reality emerges with force and becomes an image. Landscapes, wherever one might be, are disorienting. In front of a landscape, we are no longer somewhere. A landscape imposes itself through over-exposition, through endless scrutinizing.
Matthieu Gafsou’s pictures constantly bring us that exact moment when the image happens. They are not, or not mainly, thematic. They do not pinpoint a reality that has been categorized or fixed. On the contrary, what they show is a state prior to any concept, prior to what we would call “house”, “street”, “ground”, “sky”. They remain on the surface: a place where, on a scopic, phenomenal level, all things happen as soon as the eye meets the world.
Rather than drawing guidelines for a “sociological” approach (by which these pictures have evidently been marked – fashionable classifications come to mind; the fallow, the postmodern, the staged, the uncompleted, the virtual), it seems preferable to dwell on the temporal tragedy they so violently lay bare. Pale, bland, discolored, this violence is made all the more powerful. What we are seeing is the sharp point of a tragic spectacle; the tip of a present which will never happen. The images capture this non-existing present, this absence inscribed in everything that lies beneath the blaze.
Big, monotonous skies serve as a screen to Matthieu Gafsou’s journey; a backdrop for the drifting remains of a staged and standardized nature. It is because of the gap suggested by these remnants of nature that today’s world – ever poorer visually, ever more homogenous, ever more atopic – still seems so interesting, that it still offers so much to discover.
For the sake of a nature that lives and acts within him and urges him to keep moving, Gafsou unrelentingly widens the divide between excess and emptiness, (fake) beauty and ugliness, order and disorder. Let us not be mistaken: the hyperrealistic aspect of his work – which makes it so absolutely contemporary – must not be considered as purely aesthetic; it makes the artist’s critical and political viewpoints stronger, and reinforces the fact that through his photographs, he calls on our responsibility towards the visage we give to the world, day after day.
Since 2006 Matthieu Gafsou has participated in numerous group and solo exhibitions in Europe and the United States. He received in the 2009 the famous “Prix de la fondation HSBC pour la photographie” and was selected in 2010 in the exhibition reGeneration2, organized by the Musée de l’Elysée (Switzerland), which presents photographers of tomorrow’s coming from the whole world.