What they know about him or her, what they know about them goes beyond the outline of a face or the surface of the skin, beyond a gesture, a look, or a characteristic attitude. Condemned to represent, with no intention of doing so, they portray them above all as they imagine them to be. Identification is no longer relevant, but rather the individual obliterated by an image that can no longer be called his own, at which, as Michel Foucault put it, “one can only laugh philosophically - that’s to say, somewhat quietly (1)” .
It’s in this way that the ironical figures in Akos Birkas’ 16/9 paintings have something of a freeze-frame about them, where the sole presence of faces explains the social relationship of the group. Taking equivocal likeness even further, Marylène Negro’s 168 portraits of fashion models (scale 1), in the form of a fade in-fade out video," Eux", snatch something from us as they fade in a dizzy loop. Sarah Dobai photographs models whose attitude, determined by the artist herself, personifies a particular situation or a given moment, often close to abandon. In this “other dimension” a process is established, fixed by the artist with extreme precision and of which we are not immediately aware. In his photographs of marchés à réderies (flea markets) Gilles Saussier reveals the quasi-fantastical nature of the close link that exists between inhabitants and the objects they have dug out of the collective memory (2) . The portraits of women painted by Judit Ström have their eyes closed. She sees them as “listeners”, portraits of rock stars. In the artist’s own words : “It’s a way of escaping, withdrawing, of immediately creating a contrast with our environment, with the chaos that surrounds us.” Anne Durez has pushed the experiment to physical absence by filming someone fainting in real time using a 4’54’’ sequence shot : ça y est begins with the body falling and travels through the various stages of regaining consciousness visible on the person’s face as they come round. What is surrendered (or set free) here is barely perceptible, bordering on the intimate and anonymous in what can only be called a “portrait” for which Isabelle Waternaux provides the essential components : whether it be the whole body (see the recent video with the dancer Rachid Ouramdane) or only its upper section, simply motionless (the double photographic portraits in the Ecarts series), the faint expressions of the eyes cause one to resist the psychological temptation to confront the other. Bernard Zürcher