Alain Fleischer

Galerie Michèle Chomette

This exhibition, entitled “La Vague gelée/The Frozen Wave: cinéma et photographie,” presented fifteen works stemming from Alain Fleischer’s ongoing reflection on the reciprocal relationship between film and photography. This meditation has nourished Fleischer’s work for years, his writings as well as his cinematic and photographic productions. Novelist, essayist, filmmaker, photographer, aesthetician, Fleischer tracks the reality of things beneath their surface, and in so doing, brings to light the limitless strata of appearances, in a mise en abîme that is also a deliberation on time. The installation La Vague gelée, 1998, which gives the show its title, attempts to make visible the fixed origins of the filmic image. The work is composed of three negative enlargements of film stills of waves and a cinematographic projection of the same waves, which for several seconds correspond exactly to the fixed forms of the still images. Obsessed by the memory of a frozen wave in the sea of Iceland contemplated in the great cold, Fleischer wanted to re-create the fleeting moment when physical conditions make the hardening of a wave possible. He says of the work, “It is film captured by photography; it is photography as the memory of film.” The instant when liquid solidifies also functions as a metaphor of epiphany, the sort of revelation that is fixed and inscribed in a flash before disappearing.

This way of apprehending time by situating oneself in an eternal, nostalgia-free present is found in the majority of Fleischer’s works, complex arrangements that bear the traces of various passages of beings and objects. What he calls filmograms are exemplary in this regard. A filmogram is a fixed black-and-white image, obtained by superimposing a short cinematographic projection onto a screen of sensitized paper; in the resulting image, the characters and objects that are motionless in the film have more defined contours than the people and things that, having moved to some degree across the screen, appear as an enigmatic blur. Gianni Guitare, 1998, composed of four filmograms, describes a sequence at the seaside (probably near Rome, where Fleischer spends a lot of time); the guitar player finds himself before a very somber beach scene, while the trace of laundry floating in the breeze and the jetty in the distance gradually fade. The viewer re-creates a minimal narrative on the basis of uncertain and fluctuating signals. In a filmogram titled Un film en six tableaux (A film in six tableaux), 1998, a projector separates the (projected) negative silhouette of a woman on the beach from the more “distinct” presence of a standing young woman, reinforcing the mystery that underlies this entire series of works. Which of the two women (or media) is the double of the other?

Anne Dagbert

Translated from French by Jeanine Herman.