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Maison Auguste Comte

9> 17 mars 2019


Press dossier

The doors of a house open to welcome those who arrive and to greet those who leave. This is their dual function. They remain open waiting for the loved one or close behind him to hold him back. Whether he is alive or already dead, what matters is the ardor of passion, as was the case with the philosopher Auguste Comte, who in the last ten years of his life transformed his house into a temple where we can still feel the flame today. of the loving passion vibrates. Shocked by the untimely death of his muse, Madame Clotilde De Vaux, he conceived a cult practice of memories in his home. The experience of mourning was marked by rituals rooted in his daily life, dedicated to invoking a form of return from the absent and to consolidate an indissoluble bond that death claimed to break. In his dedication to the Positive Political System of 1846 he wrote: "Far from forgetting you, I must strive to assume that you are alive, in order to continue to identify ourselves more and more." This private cult of death is at the origin of a reformulation of all positivist philosophical thought which will become a religious proposal under the name of neo-fetishism-positivist. This house, preserved with devotion by the disciples of the philosopher, obsessed by the presence of the spouses Auguste and Clotilde, today arouses strong reactions from its visitors. This place, which has become a house-museum open to the public, arouses strong reactions from its visitors. So it was also for Gustavo Giacosa, curator and independent director, specialist in brut art, who proposed to the Maison Auguste Comte International Association to invest this space with an exhibition entitled "Ghosts". With the exhibition "Ghosts", Giacosa aims to address the theme of the house as a meeting place for the absent. Overcrowded with people, homes are spaces that invite and gather energy. Believe it or not, these presences / absences await us in the ravines where we are gripped by the ancestral fear, never completely overcome, of the dark and the unknown. The project takes up the challenge of temporarily reviving the original furniture and decorations of this magnificent 19th century residence with a selection of photographs and contemporary works of art that evoke the coexistence of the dead and the living.


This collective exhibition focused on photography presents the works of the artists Carolle Benitah - Stéphane Blanquet - Marcelo Bordese - Antoine D'Agata - Jean Michel Hannecart - Edmund Kesting - Michel Nedjar - Eugene Von Bruenchenhein together with anonymous photographers of the 19th and 20th centuries. Photography has always fascinated artists with its ability to capture the supernatural. Since the 19th century and the advent of ectoplasm shooting during mediumistic sessions, many photographers have experimented with new effects such as stereoscopic images and double exposure images. Taking advantage of the objectivity touted by the machine, they exploited these techniques for profit. The avant-gardes of the twentieth century, and in particular surrealism, have delightfully recovered these special effects. Since then we have become accustomed to interventions in photography which, using the most varied techniques, are at the service of the artist and the exploration of their shadow areas. The "Ghosts" exhibition presents a selection of anonymous photographic snapshots from the late 19th and mid-20th centuries. Some of these photographers have followed the path of technical processes such as overexposure or solarization, others that of error and technical imperfection. They all seem to enjoy changing perspectives by revealing these ghosts who remain on the other side of the mirror.

While the photographic technique has evolved over the years, the interest in depicting ghosts as a manifestation of the invisible remains the same. Going beyond the literal representation of the image, contemporary photography allows parallel stories to be told. It transcends reality, intertwining elements initially disconnected from each other, as in the chiaroscuro montages of the great experimenter Edmund Kesting. Linked to the Berlin avant-gardes of the 1930s, his work, considered "degenerate art" by Nazism, was again banned in the postwar years by the Communist government of East Germany. Witness to the wounds of his time, he uses the double exposure technique as a form of criticism and social commitment. The exhibition features a diptych of photographs in which ghostly skeletons dance on the ruins of a bombed-out Dresden. The last work of the Argentine artist Marcelo Bordese, before suspending his artistic activity to devote himself exclusively to prayer and meditation, was the seizure of photographs of ancestors in old family albums. A final gesture with which he would pretend to ruin the illusion of history.

Self-image and duplications also occupy this repressed image seeker who is Jean-Michel Hannecart. In 2015 he began a series of paintings on the theme of the bearers (bearers of memory, water bearers, bearers of happiness ...). Functioning like a diptych, these vectors (rap) are connected by the tear of the gaze. It is no longer an illusion but an otherness that makes an act of revelation. For the exhibition he decided to use this same technique to pay homage to the ties established between Auguste Comte and Clotilde De Vaux. For an overlay work, the tear reveals another face. To see the two lovers, they must be reunited. However, like their love story, this union seems impossible.


The photograph found is also a source of inspiration for Stéphane Blanquet who proclaims: "nothing more fun than having fun trying new things like taking a photograph and drawing it". It is following this process that in 2015 he produced a series of erotic drawings which are presented accompanied by inspiring photography. Blanquet occasionally plays on the ghostly effects of a distorted mirror. Looking and being observed are as one in Eugene Von Bruenchenhein's photographs as the two heads of a mythical bird. The self-taught photographer and his muse scrutinize each other, they are seduced during the photo session that Eugene prepares as a private ceremony. He draws an unbroken line of erotic tension with his camera. Wizard of darkness, Antoine D'Agata dives into the darkness to reveal wandering souls with blurred outlines. He says that in his photographs "the logic of the senses prevails over aesthetic dogma and tendentious arrangements of space and time." According to him, "the dissolution of forms erodes arrogant photographic rules, contaminates our understanding of reality and instills fragility and doubt" .

Amputated space, manipulated time, photography seems to be one of the most effective means to break into the cracks of reality. A lie that would allow ghosts to return to complete their work or repair their shortcomings. Gleaner of the roads of the world, Michel Nedjar is a do-it-all artist who expresses himself as much through drawing as through sculpture or experimental cinema. Nedjar transforms and sublimates the emotional charge of the found object with technical processes close to shamanism. He composes montages of photographs stapled, drawn and stitched together, working on the tactile aspect of the photographic image until it shows its hidden side.

Carolle Benitah digs into her childhood memories to weave an act of reparation. Armed with courage and needles, she confronts the images of a past always united with the present, on which she embroiders her "revenge". The thread passes through the image to obscure, circumvent, prolong and revive episodes of a not always happy past. The photos and the video presented by Gustavo Giacosa question the two themes that emerge in this exhibition: the house and the couple. Inspired by the mythical couple of Orpheus and Eurydice, the film "I ponti suspended" is a still image of a slow descent towards the house of Hades. Are the two lovers alive? Died? Nothing will prevent their engagement. The ghosts are still there: these foreign presences are waiting for us for a face to face without an appointment. Dressed in light, they come back to us to reveal an old wound that we thought we could forget. They keep reminding us that everything that arises from oblivion comes back to find a voice.

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